Are Goliath Grouper a big problem here?

Hello everyone.  My wife inherited a condo in Marco so we have been coming to fish and dive. 

Saturday we went to fish and dive some offshore. We went to the Air Force Tower and fished some.  At slack tide (no fishermen in the area) I dove the tower.  It’s not a big area underwater.  Below the surface maybe 50’ x 50’. There were some Mangrove Snapper and a few nice Sheep Head. I was spear fishing (only enough to eat fresh).

there were 5 Goliath Grouper on this wreck. 3 of them the size of a medium jet ski, one the size of a garbage can and one about 40-50#.  

I dive and fish all over Florida.  In my home in Jacksonville we have one on nearly every wreck. But the only time I ever see this many in one spot is at the Goliath grouper aggregation in Jupiter in late summer.

aside from being present, these sea monsters were aggressive.  I shot a sheep head, went to the bottom to string him, and was literally surrounded by these fish.  I ascended 15’ above them, but they followed me around. The largest one kept “bumping” his tail making a deep “thump” that you can feel in your bones. I shot 2 more fish but strung them up without going to the bottom.  My last fish was a nice mangrove snapper which was promptly stolen by the 2nd largest fish.  

Since I am not familiar with the area yet, I would love to know, is this common on the offshore reefs here?  How are these giants not starving?

when hook and line fishing do you have to plan to be robbed?

any insight would be greatly appreciated!


Replies

  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,567 Captain
    edited December 2019 #2
    To put it mildly - we're overrun with them everywhere from Tampa to Key West and up along the Atlantic coast.... This is the unintended consequences of them having total protection for more than 30 years (both by the state and the feds..) - - while every other specie is fair game.... 

     I've stood up in front of the FWC in public session and advocated they consider a limited opening for the species - and there's been some consideration (now I believe they're "studying" the problem..). Diving and actually spearfishing in places where the big ones are isn't anything I'd be up for since they can and will become aggressive (and none of us is safe from a really big one..).   Every shallow water wreck and navigation marker (even ones in less than ten feet of water) has at least one "landlord" (although in shallow waters I wouldn't expect one much over 150lbs..). On wrecks in around 20 feet of water there are goliaths (jewfish for all of us old timers... -and the name was never a slur...) that are easily able to eat a 15lb permit like it was a cookie, in one single bite... 

    I've been a permitted guide in Everglades National Park now since 1996 and I can say with confidence that if I chose to fish the babies (fish less than 20 lbs) with my anglers in the rivers along the gulf coast of the 'glades we could literally catch and release them all day long from as small as a pound or two up to 20 and beyond - on almost any day we went...  Wherever you find them they simply displace more desirable species.  A really good spot with big snook will cease holding snook the moment the goliaths move in.  We've actually experienced that on more than one occasion in the last ten years... 

    I never want to see the goliath become a commercial fish ever again - since that's what almost wiped them out years ago.  They're a good table fish (the smaller ones - less than 20 or 30lbs) and I advocated a carefully controlled limited harvest with say one fish per boat per day (but only if the in-house biologists with FWC approved...).  For the giants, I know that some would fish them and for those anglers a one fish per year limit with a tag system - at a hefty fee...  would be my first suggestion... Because of the fact that they're protected both by federal and state law I think that ever seeing them available to anglers again is a ways off (if it ever happens.... but that's how government outfits operate...).

    I don't know anyone that would spearfish around the big ones though, period....  My anglers love them since the ones we hook in rivers and on shallow wrecks fight hard and never give up - all the way to the boat.  Even a little one is one of the '"baddest" fish in the 'glades... tough as an old leather boot and ready to attack anything they can get into their over sized mouths...




    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • AllNVeinAllNVein JacksonvillePosts: 142 Deckhand
    I appreciate your conservation efforts. I can tell you there were only grunts, mangrove snapper, and sheep head on that reef. Plenty of bait and small trash fish.  Not a single ARS or other grouper specie. Even the most heavily fished reefs off Jax have undersized ARS and small grouper.  

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to contact you next time we come down. Like to go out with a guide to learn the fishery. 
  • AllNVeinAllNVein JacksonvillePosts: 142 Deckhand
    Would you say A tag style Goliath grouper take would be good for SW Florida as I am sure the red tide has diminished sport fishing in the area in recent years?
  • 1outlaw1outlaw Naples FLPosts: 1,179 Officer
    AllNVein said:
    Would you say A tag style Goliath grouper take would be good for SW Florida as I am sure the red tide has diminished sport fishing in the area in recent years?
    I do not believe red tide has had any impact on the 10k islands/ Flamingo area.
    Jason :USA
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,567 Captain
    I'm sure that inshore smaller goliaths caught in red tides die off just like everything else--- the good news for those of us that fish the 'glades and 10K areas is that, so far, the red tides these past few years simply haven't had any effect past Marco so our fisheries are very strong (every part of them....).

    As far as booking me goes, if you'll send a request to [email protected] - you'll get a brochure with color pics by return mail... I'm not an offshore guy at all though - I work out of a beat up old Maverick skiff... and go seven days a week if I have anglers... 
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
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