Grouper (Goliath) Fishing (Epinephelus itajara)

All Tackle Record

Grouper (Goliath) Fishing (Epinephelus itajara)

The largest member of the Grouper family and formerly known as Jewfish, the Goliath Grouper is a behemoth lurking in relatively shallow waters. They live over rocky, muddy or coral bottoms, around any natural or artificial structure that may provide shelter. Juveniles can be found in mangroves and brackish waters as well, which is very unusual for Groupers.

These giants are curious in nature and, of course, not very fearful due to their size. There have been many reports of them investigating and interrupting diving and spearfishing operations and, from time to time, attempting to swallow divers. They warn of their presence with a deep roaring sound produced by bladder contractions, which they also use as a sonar, to find other Groupers.

There are many factors going against the Goliath from the angler's perspective - they are sluggish fish, slow to grow and reproduce, are omnivores, have great food value and can be found in quite shallow waters (around 150ft). This is a dangerous combination, yielding an estimated 80% population reduction from overfishing on the right-hand side of the equation. This is why these mammoths are recognized as a critically endangered species and all harvest is forbidden by law.

Double hookup aboard Sanibel Offshore Fishing Charters in Sanibel Island, FL

How big

Very big. It's estimated that there are specimens up to 8.2ft of length and 800lbs of weight. However, when adult (about 4-6 years old), the average hookup will be between 75 and 150lbs. Their life expectancy is up to 5 decades.

When & Where

Goliaths are quite widespread, inhabiting the western Atlantic, from Florida to Brazil, including the entire Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. They populate the eastern Atlantic as well, from Senegal to Congo and are sometimes found off the Canary Islands. Eastern Pacific waters also host these fish from the Gulf of California to Peru.

They can be caught year-round.

Tripple hookup!

How to catch

It's safe to say that you don't have to have much skill to target a Goliath (just a very good back). These guys eat basically anything and are scared of nothing, so dropping some crabs, lobster, any live or cut fish down to where they've been located should do the trick. Of course, the heavier the tackle, the better. Slow trolling can also be effective.

Be wary of the classic grouper "rock up" move - as these fish have a very strong preservation instinct, they'll head to cover as soon as they're hooked. Seeing as the Goliath is... well, a goliath, you might end up head first in the water as well.

Good to eat?

Excellent, but strictly forbidden.


Size limit - none;

Bag limit (per angler per day) - 0; Strictly a catch and release fish.


Similar Game Fish: