“The fact we’re even having this discussion means we’ve been successful,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chair BO River. Curious and generally fearless, they were easy targets for anglers and spear fishermen, especially when they gathered in large numbers in July and August to mate.
After the ban in 1990, the fish began to bounce back, but scientists believe Florida's record 2010 freeze likely sent numbers downward again. Anglers, however, have increasingly complained that the voracious fish are taking over reefs and gobbling up their catches.
A survey FCC conducted in the Keys and Dry Tortugas found just a 2 and 4.5 percent increase. They also said lobster counts have remained stable, indicating that the fish are not affecting the popular, and lucrative, crustacean.
The controversy over whether to allow harvesting has divided some anglers and divers, who consider the gentle Goliath a mascot for the reefs. On Thursday, about 60 speakers, nearly all divers and many wearing Save the Goliath T-shirts handed out by the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, criticized the move as an attempt to appease anglers.
“You’re awarding a trophy fish to essentially a lazy hunter,” said Miami diver James Woodard. UM Rosenthal School of Marine and Atmospheric Science fishery scientist Bill Hartford and Nova geneticist Andrea Bernard said they are working on building a statistical model, similar to methods used to assess blue fin tuna, that can account for gaps in catch history caused by the fishing moratorium and provide an accurate count for adult fish in Florida.
“People got us into this problem and if the fishing opens back up, we'll likely be back in this position,” said Ellie Fodder, a sophomore environmental study major at Becker College who left campus at 3:30 a.m. Thursday with her dive club, the Scuba Jews, and campus rabbi, Ed Rosenthal, to make the morning meeting. Eddie sat down on the deck and braced his foot against the rail, I figured we were into a big one.
When his hat fell off, and he started to make grunting sounds, I was sure of it. Eddie looked up at me with a twisted smile and was just hanging onto the rod for dear life.
Something was living in this wreck 10 miles off southwest Florida, and whatever it was had already beaten us up several times. But on this day we were maxed out on gear big enough to crank one of these monsters up ... if only Capt.
This started out innocently enough a few weeks earlier when a couple of fishing buddies and I dropped a live pinkish on 30# mono down on a wreck 50 feet deep looking for a grouper dinner. Something big grabbed it, screamed out about 40 feet of drag, got into the wreck and cut the line on something sharp.
Something wolfed down the pinkish and took line like the rod was tied to a dragster. It had to be a big grouper, a shark, a giant ray, or maybe a huge barracuda.
The rod bent over 180 degrees, the back of the boat went down 6 inches, and the 150# braid snapped like a rifle shot. The steel hook, thick as a shoelace, broke off at the eye.
I asked the guys in the local bait shops if they knew any captains up for the task of fishing for seemingly unwatchable monsters. The Goliath, once called the Jewish, is the biggest member of the grouper family.
Goliath's can live 50 years and grow to behemoth size. The winds of spring kept us inshore for a couple of weeks, so we enjoyed the opportunity to fish the bridges for pompano and sea trout.
It finally took a rig spooled with 150# braid, a 500# mono top shot, and huge #16 circle hook under 2 ounces of lead to bring a Goliath to the surface. Eddie's wreck, and he pulled a big Spanish mackerel out of his cooler, the one bait he said Goliath can't refuse.
It was a short, furious, and profane battle, a hard fought back-and-forth fish fight, exciting to watch with an uncertain end. Eddie prevailed, and suddenly a giant brown fish appeared on the surface and lay at the side of the boat as exhausted as Capt.
On the next calm day I returned to my wreck lying now in water so clear you could see its dark silhouette on the white sand bottom 50 feet below. I went over the side to find an old shrimper torn apart by hurricanes and fishermen's anchors, its wheelhouse barely recognizable.
And then they appeared, slowly emerging from the shadows of broken masts and rigging. A fearless giant Goliath carries the remnants of three different rigs ripped from fishermen.
Three fishing rigs hung from his mouth, one still with its sinker, medals of recent battles won, and then I recognized one of my rigs, the 150# braid to a black swivel to 200# mono, hanging out of the left side of his mouth. There was the proof: These were the bad boys that had beat us up, and a few other fishermen, too, by the looks of it.
I returned to the surface knowing those hooks will soon rust and the line will fall away, and these Goliath's will own this wreck for many years to come. Goliath grouper can be found across the Caribbean from Central America, around the Gulf, and up the Atlantic to the Carolina's, but they are most plentiful in Florida.
Its massive size and slow growth (it takes five to seven years for a grouper to become sexually mature) has made it highly susceptible to pressure from commercial and recreational fishing, which has led to its status as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Recently, the FCC conducted a stock assessment of the grouper ’s numbers in Florida, and found it to be at much healthier levels than it was when first declared an endangered species.
However, the study was rejected for use in federal waters by an independent panel of scientists due to its limited scope, which only included South Florida. They’ve raised enough concern that the FCC is now considering reopening the fishery, albeit in a limited fashion.
Due to the controversy around the issue, the FCC is hosting more than a dozen workshops to discuss the matter and to get a feel for public opinion. Currently, one idea on the table is to create a four-year paid lottery that would allow 100 people each year to harvest one goliathgrouper.
It would cost $300 to buy into, and the fish can only be caught by hook and line, with no commercial harvest or sale allowed. Studies by Florida State University marine biologists in 2010 and 2011 found that the grouper is still being fished illegally and disagreed with anglers’ statements that the Goliath is a threat to their livelihood.
Furthermore, they found that Goliath improve reef diversity rather than threaten it, countering a claim that has been made by proponents of an open fishery. Regardless, anglers contend that they are competing with the grouper, saying that Goliath have snatched their catch from their lines as they were reeling them in.
Florida's guides are Free and can be acquired locally in most bait shops or at marinas. The FCC website also contains the most up to date information on fishing and boating in Florida.
We summarize the most common rules on this website and offer resources for you to keep abreast of the regulations. For species that do not have an established bag limit, more than 100 pounds or two fish per harvester per day (whichever is greater), is considered commercial quantities.
If you are fishing on a boat, your catch must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins & tails intact). All vessels fishing in federal waters must have aboard venting and hooking tools and non-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural baits for the purpose of reducing mortality in reef fishes, including snapper, grouper and Goliath grouper.
For more information read the regulations before going, there links at the top and bottom of this page to the two Federal regulatory agencies. This requirement is for all adult anglers that require a license (as well as those over the age of 65 who are normally exempt from needing a license) targeting or harvesting sharks from shore, including from any structure attached to shore such as jetties, bridges and piers.
Fishing with a metal leader more than 4 feet long, Using a fighting belt/harness, or Deploying bait by any means other than casting (kayaking for example) while using a hook that is 1 ? Source: http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/zones/ special/welcome.healthier are areas offshore around Florida that are protected by many governmental organizations.
Visit our Fishing Reefs & Shipwrecks page for details on the Special Marine Zones and the rules within them. There are many regularly caught species that do not have specific rules or restrictions such as the Lady fish, Hero Mackerel, Black fin Tuna, Bonito, Great Barracuda and Jack Crevasse.
Live non-native fishes (including goldfish and carp) may not be used as bait, except for variable platys and fathead minnows. Whole pickerel or bream or parts thereof may not be used as bait for trot lines or bush hooks or any method other than by rod and reel or pole and line.
Pan fish less than 4 inches in total length raised by a licensed aquaculture facility may be purchased and used for bait. Although using fish chum, Burley, or Ground bait in Florida is legal, there are some rules to the road.
We have a full section dedicated to Fish Chumming in Florida, give it a visit for rules, tricks and tips. Your fishing license helps support the agencies that enforce the rules and maintain our waterways.
Recreational licenses and permits can be purchased by phone, on the internet, and throughout the area in marina's, bait & tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and at any county tax collector's office. There are also special stamps or permits you must purchase if you plan to fish or trap for Shook, Tarpon, and Lobsters.
It is against the law to intentionally discard any monofilament netting or line into or onto state waters. The Mono filament Recovery & Recycling Program (MARP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.
Black drum flounder permit pompano African pompano red drum (redfish) shark sleepyhead shook spotted sea trout tarpon triple tail The Florida Administrative Code (FAC) defines “multiple hook” in Chapter 68B-4.002(10).
Reef fishing has special regulations for state waters and varies by area. Cast nets may be used as harvesting gear for the following species only: black drum, bluefish, cobra, flounder, mullet, Florida pompano, red drum, sleepyhead, shrimp, Spanish mackerel, spotted Sea Trout, weakfish and unregulated species.
Hand held landing or dip nets no greater than 96 inches in perimeter. Beach or haul seines measuring no larger than 500 square feet of mesh area, no larger than 2 inches stretched mesh size, not constructed of monofilament, and legibly marked at both ends with the harvester's name and address if a Florida resident.
Non-residents using beach or haul seines for recreational purposes are required to have a commercial saltwater products license and legibly mark the seine at both ends with the harvester's saltwater products license number. Beach or haul seines may be used as harvesting gear for the following species only: black drum, bluefish, cobra, flounder, mullet, Florida pompano, red drum, sleepyhead, shrimp, Spanish mackerel, weak fish and unregulated species.
Spear fishing is defined as “the catching or taking of a fish through the instrumentality of a hand or mechanically propelled, single or multi-pronged spear or lance, barbed or barbless, operated by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water.” Prohibited for Harvest by Spearing in Florida African pompanoManta raySturgeonBillfish (all species)PermitS potted seatroutBlue CrabPompanoStone CrabBonefishRed drumTarpon GoliathGrouper SharksTripletailNassau grouper SnookWeakfishLobsterSpotted eagle families of ornamental reef fish (surgeon fish, trumpet fish, angelfish, butterfly fish, porcupine fish, cornet fish, squirrel fish, trunk fish, dam selfish, parrot fish, pipe fish, seahorse, puffers, trigger fish except gray and ocean) Spear fishing of marine and freshwater species in freshwater is prohibited.
(Possession of spear fishing equipment is prohibited in these areas, unless it is unloaded and properly stored.) Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of a divers-down flag on open waters (all waterways other than rivers, inlets, or navigation channels) and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets, or navigation channels.
Vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from divers-down flags on open waters and at least 100 feet from flags on rivers, inlets or navigation channels. Southwest Florida, Collier County, and Naples fisheries occur in both state and federal waters.
This information is provided only as a courtesy and there are NO guaranties, warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Florida Go Fishing assumes NO liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information contained here.