Have you ever wanted to learn more about the largest fish in the grouper family – the Goliath Grouper? Formerly known as Jewfish, this sizable fish might just be every seasoned angler’s dream catch. Read on to learn more about this magnificent gargantuan grouper species.
Identifying the Goliath Grouper
Besides recognizing the goliath grouper by its sheer size, you can also identify it by the small dark spots on its head and fins, as well as by its huge mouth and small eyes that are set at the top of its head. Its tail is rounded and displays irregular stripes which start from the sides of the body. The spines and rays help to make up its two dorsal fins – the front dorsal fin has 11 spines, while the back dorsal fin has 15 – 16 rays. This fish normally has a weight of 400 pounds (180 kilograms) but some can weigh beyond 800 pounds (360 kilograms)!
Where Can You Find Goliath Groupers?
The goliath grouper is drawn to structures such as shipwrecks, reefs, and rock ledges. They live in shallow waters not exceeding 150 feet deep. In the past, the goliath could be located over a wide ocean territory, including the Caribbean, the Carolinas, and the Atlantic off Brazil. The current natural habitat for the fish is mainly in South Florida, where they make homes in reefs, shipwrecks, and dig holes which are also hiding spots for other fish.
Is it Illegal to Catch the Goliath Grouper?
The goliath grouper has been highly protected in both state and Federal waters since 1990, and it is illegal to harvest it. Therefore, anglers can only catch and release the fish immediately, leaving it free, alive, and unharmed. If a large goliath is out of the water for a period of time or is brought on board a vessel, there could be a high chance of it sustaining internal injuries such as damaging its skeletal system. When this happens, the goliath is thus considered to have been harvested. As such, large goliath groupers are advised to be left in the water before they are being released. For smaller goliath groupers, it is best to use professional fish handling methods and the fish should be released back to the sea as soon as possible.
How to Catch the Goliath Grouper
Be prepared for a tough fight when it comes to catching the goliath grouper – they are definitely not for the faint-hearted! These fish are strong and can pull you off the boat. They can also snap your fishing lines and even fishing rods! The goliath’s favorite food includes crustaceans (crabs and lobsters), rays, fish, and even sharks! They are enticed by most baits, live or dead, as long as they are fresh. The goliath grouper are not really choosy creatures.
To catch them, there are 2 main methods – hand lining, and using a rod and reel. It is illegal to harvest them by spearfishing in Florida. Remember to use heavy-duty equipment or you may easily be defeated by their strength in no time.
After learning more about this monster fish, are you ready to go on the fishing trip of a lifetime? You can book a charter boat with Flats Hound Fishing Charters and they will provide professional fishing expertise when you set off for your offshore fishing adventure. Get ready for a fruitful and fun fishing experience.