Our most proven technique to entice the bite is dropping a whole Bonita down. Many times it will get hit on the way down by other fish like rooster fish and giant Almach jacks.
Once it is on the bottom, slowly continue to let out line so it stays in one place. Keep the reel in free-spool and put your thumb on the spool to adjust the pressure on demand.
It is important to know you are dropping your bait off to the side of the structure and not directly on top of it. If there is lots of current, (2mph or more) only let it stay on the bottom for up to 5 minutes at a time.
(If there is lots of bow in the line, a fish can take the bait and get to his home in the rock before you are able to put enough pressure on it to slow him down.) Many times line will just start coming out of the reel after two strong jerks.
The first is the fish inhaling or tasting the bait, and the second is him making sure the whole Bonita is in his mouth or throat. We like to give around 3 seconds before engaging the drag or just make sure you felt those two big thumps.
Once you come tight you need to put as much drag as you can handle immediately and just start reeling. If he is able to turn and get his head aimed straight down you are in trouble and chances are he is going to get into his rock and it is game over.
This is where the low gear function on a two-speed reel comes in handy. Grouper have big air bladders that will expand and lift them to the surface.
Stevens’ gag grouper trips range from eight get of water on flats edges all the way to the middle of the bay. If the wind is going predominately one direction, he’ll arrange a start and pickup going all the way across the bay.
During the trip he’s fishing channel edges and hard bottom with heavy tackle. Heavy spinning gear is Stevens’ preferred grouper tackle, with 40-60 pound rated rods and 8500 or bigger series reels that he trolls big lipped diving plugs on with heavy braided line.
These fish are big and mean and pull hard so you better hold on tight. This past week Stevens was able to put fellow kayak enthusiast Pamela With on four gag grouper, including one keeper sized fish, in just 45 minutes of fishing.
The biggest fish we hooked was eaten to his head by a shark. And when a shark decided to eat his favorite lure, he wasn’t going to let it win that easy.
Photo courtesy Hobin Cat Jeff Marian, 48, of Pedro Island, Mexico, almost got swept off his kayak before he reeled up an astounding 108.6-pound broom tail grouper while aboard a Hobie® Mirage Pro Angler last week. Marian was hoping for a big Pedro Island yellowtail when he cast out his Kicker 25 surface iron in 80 feet of water near the salt factory.
The fish are a common target at the remote island off Baa’s Pacific coast, and a compelling reason he established his kayak fishing service outfitted with Hobbies rigged with Lawrence color sonar and bait tanks. Marian was using his heavy saltwater bass outfit, a Phoenix M1 Inshore Series rod with a prototype Obama Komodo bait caster spooled with 65-pound PowerPC braid plus a 35-pound Jaguar Fluorocarbon leader.
Marian was using his heavy saltwater bass outfit, a Phoenix M1 Inshore Series rod with a prototype Obama Komodo bait caster spooled with 65-pound PowerPC braid plus a 35-pound Jaguar Fluorocarbon leader. Rather than a hindrance, Marian figures the light rod helped keep him hooked up without worrying about going over.
It didn’t take Canada long to realize the massive fish was a world record contender. The group called the IFA for advice, then took the fish into town where they found a scale (which they bought), and started documenting the catch in photos and videos.
“We called the IFA again to make sure we were doing everything we should, and the guy said filet the fish and enjoy your meal,” Marian said. At this point it should be just a matter of time before he joins a small list of IFA all tackle record holders to catch their fish by kayak.
A video of the catch posted to YouTube shows Black scream with excitement as he wrangles with the fish, which broke his rod. A video showing a southwest Florida man reeling in a massive Goliath Grouper from a small Kayak is making headlines nationwide.
As reported by NBC affiliate BBH, Jon Black of the Crazy Lure Tackle shop in Cape Coral says he's reeled in “the largest bottom fish ever from a Kayak off Daniel Island, which is just under a 20-mile drive from Fort Myers. At some point, we began talking about the fish we wanted to try from a kayak.
We talked to friends of ours who had experience with Goliath grouper, and we were always answered with “It can’t be done.” I searched the internet for any videos or forum posts of anyone who had done it, and found none. Also, there would be nothing to keep the fish from dragging the kayak, angler and all, into the pilings and underwater.
We both use Hobin “Pro Angler” kayaks, which are exceedingly stable and buoyant craft. Until we knew what damage these fish were capable of visiting upon our plastic craft, we had to err on the side of caution.
Ben is a renowned Goliath grouper guide and the Host of Chew on This, a television show about pushing the limits of angling. Jim had been talking to Ben about our plan for a few months, trying to fine tune some ideas.
Finally, the day came when Ben said, “Let’s do it tomorrow,” and the waiting was over. We made our way over to the bridge span where we began to prepare for this mammoth undertaking.
The current around the bridge is fairly strong and it would be impossible to keep the kayak in place in front of the pilings. Also, we predicted the Goliath would quickly pull the kayak into the pilings, and possibly under.
Once everything was in place, Jim took possession of the 30ft handling rope fitted with a gaff hook. There was a fish on that quickly, and Jim furiously pulled on the rope to set the hook.
This happened a couple more times, and we were beginning to think that setting the hook would be impossible. Ben hit the gas and the boat lurched forward, pulling Jim from the pilings.
Jim noted that he had control of the fish, and didn’t feel threatened. We would still keep the kayak tethered for obvious safety reasons, but Jim would be on his own against the next fish.
The line ripped through his unprotected hands as he struggled to gain control. At first, the kayak was pulled toward the pilings, but the strong current hitting the face of the concrete pushed him back off.
Jim hoisted him to the top of the water, and its giant head shook violently. This big fish was also tagged and released after a round of picture taking to commemorate the event.
Crystal River is home to some amazing bottom habitat for these gag grouper to hide and ambush their prey and to house them all year long. We are targeting rocks, ledges, springs, holes, and any kind of structure that will hold fish.
Since these fish are so strong on their initial run we use extremely heavy tackle to keep them out of the structure and into your cooler. We are using heavy spinning tackle from 6000 to 8000 sized reels with anywhere from 60 to 80 lb braided line and 80 to 1300lb fluorocarbon leader.