By Chris Agardy,
As a charter captain, I am always looking for ways to keep the rods bent for my customers when the fishing gets slow. This time of year, the offshore fishing for pelagic species often shuts down for us by 10 am when the air temperatures reach 90 degrees. When this happens, I like to take my customers to one of the many local shipwrecks to fish for the giant Goliath groupers that have literally taken over these artificial reefs over the last few years. 2012 has been the best year that I can remember for catching these giants, probably due to successful conservation efforts that were implemented years ago.
This exciting fishery is not for the faint of heart, requiring heavy tackle and a healthy amount of human brute strength and determination to land one of these groupers. The groupers that we target in Boynton Beach average 200-300 lbs, so I like to give my customers a fighting chance by using 80 lb class reels and 400 lb leaders. One of the key pieces of equipment we use for landing these fish is the new Hooker electric motor option used in conjunction with our 80 Wide Shimano Tiagra Reels. The Hooker Electric gives our customers the option to wind on these fish manually, but when angler fatigue sets in they can switch to the electric motor to land them quickly. The quicker we land these Goliath groupers, the healthier they are when we release them, so the electric option can help with this. We can even engage the electric motor with a remote control, assisting the angler from the helm as they fight a fish from the fighting chair.
I like to set up on the up current side of a reef where I believe the Goliaths are holding, and then deploy a knocker rig with 15 ft of 400 lb leader attached to 65 lb braid main line. I use 10/0 circle hooks to avoid gut hooking these groupers and insure their survival. The best bait is usually a live or freshly cut bonito, although these groupers will eat just about anything when the bite is on! The amount of weight that we use on the knocker rig depends on the current, but 6 to 8 ounces usually does the job in a normal current. Once a grouper is hooked up, i put the boat in gear away from the reef as the angler fights the fish. This will prevent the Goliath from cutting you off in the structure.
The grouper shown in the picture fell for a live bonito fished near the bottom in 60 ft of water. The angler was Mike Schmitt and the first mate( and leader woman) was Chessy Ricca. Mike fought the fish without the assistance of the electric motor, and had it boat side after an intense 10 minute battle. We estimated this grouper to weigh close to 300 lbs! If you would like to see this exciting fishery in person, you can give me a call to book a Goliath grouper fishing charter with us… and they bite all year long!
Capt. Chris Agardy