Home Keys General Fishing & The Outdoors

headed to keys in late July, want to catch 2 species in particular: Mahi and Goliath Grouper

Hi everyone,
My wife and I are headed down to the keys at the end of July and want to catch a few different species, but primarily Mahi  and a Goliath Grouper as neither of us have caught one yet. 

We will be renting a boat from Marathon and Islamorada.

I've read various sources and it seems like the best bet is trolling various lures like skirted chuggers and Rapala magnums as well as ballyhoo along weed lines or where the frigates are working offshore. Is there anything else that s recommended that I missed?

Goliath Grouper: 
Large natural baits around structure. Any particular areas where they live? 

Thank you all!


  • mmill143mmill143 Posts: 7 Deckhand
    should add, size isn't that big of a concern. 
  • bluewater00bluewater00 Posts: 136 Deckhand
    billy baits or boone tuna feathers far back so you can cover some ground. pull 5 or 6 knots. When you get hit or find birds or structure throw out ballyhoo or small rubber squids. start trolling 300 feet head out to 650 or 700 and then back, repeat. I like to let the fish come to me sometimes. Have pitch baits ready and some cut bait and schoolie rods ready. Not sure about goliaths, I know they are out in the deeper areas of the Gulf around the wrecks,etc. They eat plenty of what you will try and get in the boat. Might want to hire a captain or do a charter for that. Need some heavy gear to get them to the boat. 
  • fish_stixfish_stix Posts: 1,395 Officer
    Just about any bridge in the Keys will be infested with jewfish. Bahia Honda has some real monsters. Any large live bait will work but they are especially addicted to your prize snapper or grouper which you're trying to get to the boat! Catfish, with the fins snipped off, work well.  The jewfish don't mind the fins but you will if you get impaled: snipping them off is for YOUR safety. You're gonna need big tackle!!!  For the dolphin troll a Billy Bait or small skirted ballyhoo. If you find a school of them switch to ballyhoo chunks on small spinning rods.
  • UK AnglerUK Angler Posts: 298 Deckhand
    I wouldnt bother trolling for Mahi unless you're proficient at it already. You can burn a lot of gas and cover little distance  for not a lot of reward. Get out deep and look for debris and floating structure. Throw lures , jigs and cut bait and see whats at home.

    Goliaths are savage- you need to get them out of the structure fast if you are fishing around the bridges. 50lb or preferably 80lb class rods- 200lb braid and 200--400lb mono leaders. Anything much less and you will get snapped up and leave the fish with hooks in their mouths and potentially getting tethered to structure. 3-5lb livebaits and 5-10oz of lead dependent on current. Fish the upstream end of the structure as they sit with their heads into the flow.
  • mmill143mmill143 Posts: 7 Deckhand
    Yes, I definitely have the HEAVY tackle for the Goliath. Rod rated for 80lb mono/130lb braid and I have it spooled with 200lb mono +500 leader. 

    Thank you all for the advice!
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,822 AG
    If you are serious about crossing one or both off your list, hire a guide to put you on them.   Knock both out in one day and relax the rest of the trip.   I used to have that mentality that i got to cross this fish off my list,   now i just want to enjoy myself.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • mmill143mmill143 Posts: 7 Deckhand
    I would except I like the part about learning how to catch the fish myself and the thrill of the chase.

     I've used guides in the past, but I'd rather just do it myself.

  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,576 Captain

    When I first started fishing the key bridges hardcore types would use heavy rope for Goliaths and add a large tire inner tube for a shock absorber to keep the fish from pulling off the hook or breaking the rope. Sometimes we would come across these ropes with the inner tube stretched completely out (Like ten feet) with a shark or Giant Grouper on the other end. You could do this with a boat but you could get into trouble I would think. One guy landed a tiger shark so large that he had to hire a tow truck to pull it out when it got it to the bridge apron. I think the shark was about 1500 lb.

Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.


Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now