By David Graham: 6.19.2023
With a three day weekend at hand, I decided to mend my sleep pattern on short notice for a night trip for land based goliath groupers.
It's been nearly a year since I last chased goliaths from shore here in Southwest Florida. One of my favorite angling opportunities here in Florida - but 2022's Hurrican Ian had some very long lasting effects on the landscape and accessibility of my preferred goliath spots.
With damages to local islands and strict curfews... some beaches were either inaccessible or illegal to be on after dark. With most areas now back to a relative state of 'normalcy' I decided now is the time!
Friday evening I headed north on i75 from my home in Naples... realizing about an hour into my drive that I had left the bait in a cooler in my driveway. I made the long, wasteful circle back home.
I set up right at sundown - but while placing my pvc pipe 'sandspike' it immediately broke at the base. Another minor inconvenience... I opted to place the butt of the rod into one of the scupper holes of my kayak, a trick that works just fine and i've used in the past.
With an Avet 50W spooled with 200lb braided mainline, a 200lb mono topshot, a 1000lb mono shock leader, and stout 16/0 circle hook - I dropped half a bonita out by a submerged structure I know well for having big goliaths.
About an hour into the drop the rod got absolutely smacked... and about 5 minutes later the culprit couldn't resist a second try and I was tied into a monster fish. I brought the beast into the shallows and with the aid of a few neighboring anglers I quickly got a few photos and released the fish in a timely fashion.
The goliath had two other rigs with 14/0 to 16/0 sized hooks tied straight to 500lb sized mono. My 1000 by leader bore some serious frays and gashes from the fish having gotten into the snags but that is the purpose of such heavy shock leader with these fish. It MUST be able to rub against barnacle clad pillars, rock, and other abrasive structure.
It's been a year I had predicted thus far... few fish, but fish of great quality and size!