Versus Goliath - Targeting
Goliath Grouper in Florida
Introduction: Goliath Groupers look
like gigantic bass and are some of the most voracious predators that cruise the
wrecks and reefs in South Florida. These bottom dwelling titans are responsible
for stealing many a fish from unsuspecting anglers whom are simply trying to get
their fish back to the boat. Iíve wanted to catch one of these monsters ever
since I first tangled with one of these beasts, and lost, just over two years ago.
Paul Michele of Navionics helps me
try to cross off one of the fish on my bucket list... the Goliath Grouper
Goliath on the mind: Iíve had
Goliath on the mind since I first hooked one of these giants fishing West
Florida near Marco Island. It was back in 2016 when I was fishing with Paul
Michele of Navionics and Ali Hussainy of BD Outdoors when we caught a variety of
saltwater species targeting offshore wrecks and came across a school of Bonita.
I landed one of these Bonita and we used it for bait on an Okuma Makaira reel
that was spooled up with the light 100lb braid line, which is much too light to
play tug of war with a goliath.
Step one is catching bait, in our
case Bonita and to do that we used Okuma Azores saltwater spinning reels spooled
with Yozuri Super Braid
Paul and Ali knew I didnít stand a chance and
before that Bonita even hit the wreck it was engulfed by a goliath and the
ensuing battle lasted all of ten, maybe fifteen seconds, before the line
snapped. In that short amount of time what I felt on the end of the line was a
combination of sheer weight and power. It was like I was trying to haul up a
bus, one that didnít want to yield even an inch. I remember letting loose a few
expletives as Ali directed me to put the rod on my knee and start winching. I
barely got a few turns in before the Goliath was back in the wreck and severed
the braid. The guys explained that we really didnít have the right set up to
land a Goliath, but that it was entertaining watching a bass angler like me get
railed by one. It was an eye opening experience and since then catching a
goliath has been on my bucket list, only the next time I would make sure that I
was armed with a beefier rod and 200lb. braided line.
A common sight among many of the
guide boats and even kayaks is the Cuda Tackle Center which quickly stows a
variety of knives, cutters, and pliers all in a single containment unit that
fits securely in a cupholder
Fast forward to this yearís media event at Pirates
Cove in Stuart Florida and I would finally get my shot at redemption. Paul knew
that I wanted to tangle with a goliath in the worst way so we set out with a
mission. It was the two of us versus goliath. Step one was to catch the right
bait, and while these monsters will eat a variety of different fish Paulís
favorite sacrificial offering is live Bonita. ďBonita is like goliath candy,
they absolutely love them,Ē he explained.
A look under the retaining net
cover reveals the quick draw system
The second that Paul turned on his Raymarine GPS
unit and started scrolling through regional map views I knew I was in good
hands. There were waypoints plotted all over the entire coastline. ďIíve fished
this area more than a few times,Ē Paul laughed. ďThis is home water for me.Ē We
head out of Pirates Cove and after a short six mile run we were into the Bonita,
though they really wanted nothing to do with us.
An example of the jigs that we
threw to catch our Bonita
The Bonita we found were pretty spooky so the
minute that we pulled up within casting distance the fish would quickly move out
of range. Paul handed me a heavier jig with and we chased the fish with the boat
and casted as close as we could to those fish breaking on the surface. The sight
fishing worked and within the next thirty minutes we successfully landed two
bonitas using this fast moving surface jig technique. It was time to make an
offering to the big mouthed giants below!
Paul reels in a Bonita that would
soon be an offering to the monsters down below
Goliaths are almost exclusively caught on bait,
either live or dead, and while they are sometimes hooked on artificial lures
they are almost always caught this way accidentally. These giants like to
inhabit structure, especially wrecks where they sit in and around the sunken
ships waiting for their next meal to swim by and they really are not very picky.
Goliath Groupers will engulf pretty much any live bait they can get their mouths
around including tuna, snapper, stingrays, jacks and even sharks.
This time I had the right setup a
stout rod armed with an Okuma Makaira with 200lb Yozuri Super Braid and heavy
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