A goliath grouper enjoying dock lights

Jewfish (goliath grouper) will never be a species I target on charters. Maybe I shouldn’t say never, but I can’t envision the chain of events that would need to unfold where the end result is me stabbing a 20/0 hook through the head of a jack crevalle, pitching it off the side of the boat, then telling a client to “hang on”. It seems implausible. Some of us aren’t wired for that style of fishing.

While I don’t foresee any saltwater tug-of-wars with goliaths in my future, I do appreciate these fish for what they are. They are real-life monsters – saltwater cave trolls that smite anything resembling an easy meal. A few years back I saw a goliath grouper on a dock light for the first time. Despite being a modest sized goliath, it dwarfed even the biggest snook in the light. Quite the sight for this shallow water guide to process.

The dock light that attracted the monster has been gone for two years. It’s hard to believe that such a nondescript dock, now surrounded by darkness, could’ve ever held a goliath grouper. I’ve run hundreds of dock light trips since that night and not once has another goliath appeared.

That trend finally ended when a fly angler, best described as charmed, joined me for a dock light trip. The fishing gods apparently love her. On her first trip with me she said, “I really want to catch a tarpon on the fly.” A few hours later, we leadered a good one. Before another recent trip, she professed her love for redfish. Wouldn’t you know it, we were surrounded by 200 plus redfish for hours.

On this night she asked about sharks. I mentioned that I’d never seen any sharks in this area, but there was a night when we saw a goliath grouper on a dock light and it was incredible. After hearing my story, she put the fishing gods on notice, announcing her intentions to see one.

A few hours later I was staring at a giant dark blob on my favorite dock light and wondering why the snook were acting so skittish. Sure enough, there was the goliath grouper she had wished for. It fit on the dock light about as well as a Suburban wedged into a compact car spot. We moved closer to admire the monster and noted that it even had its own remora.  We marveled at the real-life dinosaur for a few moments.

After giving the proper amount of admiration for such a rare occurrence in my area, we left the giant dark blob alone. We headed for dock lights that didn’t have a saltwater cave troll. Lights where we could feed tiny flies to snook and reds that didn’t fear for their lives. And we knew with certainty that whatever happened the rest of the night was destined to be dwarfed by the memory of that goliath.

Thanks for reading.

Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing
Sarasota, FL