Perhaps no other fish in the world has a more accurate name than the goliath grouper. Reaching the size of a compact car, this fish is a true giant, creating thrills and excitement for even the most seasoned anglers on the water.
While finding and hooking a goliath grouper is relatively easy, actually bringing them to the surface can be the fishing challenge of a lifetime. So how can you target these fish and bring them up for a photo shoot? With a little knowledge and an unbreakable will, you can take your photo next a goliath grouper and make all your fishing buddies jealous.
The goliath grouper is a saltwater fish found primarily off southern Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Goliath groupers have also been found as far north as Maine, but they are rare in these areas and generally stick to the warm waters and relative shallow structures found in the Keys and the Bahamas.
Goliath groupers are large, indiscriminate feeders that have been known to swallow prey weighing as much as 30 pounds. While they will eat just about any fish that swims their way, their favorite food is snapper, permit, amberjack, and other fish considered a trophy by many anglers. The goliath will also feed on crustaceans, turtles, octopuses, and even sharks. Basically, if it swims, a goliath grouper will swallow it.
The hulking goliath grouper generally prefers to stay hidden near structure. They are often found around bridges, docks, and coral reefs, coming out of their dens usually to feed and spawn.
As we said before, finding and hooking a goliath grouper is easy, but pulling them to the surface is an arm-wrenching challenge.
The first step in any goliath grouper outing is to catch some live bait.
Make sure the fish you are catching are legal for bait use, and remember: the bigger the bait, the bigger the grouper. After you have caught your bait, keep them alive and energetic so they make an enticing treat for a massive fish.
In case you hadn’t already figured it out, you will need some strong tackle for this massive fish. Most goliath groupers require line in the area of 150 to 500 pounds, as well as heavy-action rods that can give you the leverage to pull these fish up.
Most experienced anglers will anchor up-current of a goliath’s nest, just close enough to grab the fish’s attention. They strategy is to entice the grouper away from the structure so they can’t run for cover when they are hooked.
Hook your bait so it can swim unobstructed, and pay attention; you may have the chance to see a goliath take a bite. Goliath groupers don’t have a lot of endurance, so the fight is usually short, but the first time they take a run, your arms and grip will be tested to the limit. If you make it through the first run, the goliath will start to tire, but be ready, because they will likely make another surge when they come closer to the boat.
Always remember, the goliath grouper is a highly protected animal and cannot be kept. You can, however, take the picture of a lifetime next to one of the biggest fish you will ever catch.
To target goliath groupers, you need to anchor over coral reefs, wrecks, and other submerged structure. That means you’re out in the open and have almost no shade from the sun.
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