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Be armed to go after a Goliath

July 7, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Want to catch the biggest fish of your life? Something that may actually pull you in? Interested?

I thought so. If you don't have a boat, but still want in on the action, keep reading because it's time to tangle with the biggest, baddest, grouper that swims in these waters - a Goliath Grouper.

Most folks head over to the docks at Boca Grande to do battle with these heavyweights using the boat at hookup to help pull the big fish out from the structure to have a fighting chance at getting one to the boat.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Don't even try catching one unless you are armed with a huge rod, 200-300 pound test lines, and a strong back matched by true determination.

If this knock-down drag-out fish battle sounds like your cup of tea, but you're lacking the boat to help make it happen, no worries. Gather up your equipment, hop in your land cruiser and make your way to another Goliath stronghold - the Sanibel Causeway.

These big brutes are drawn to structure and the causeway is no exception, holding lots of these monsters.

Find a spot along the concrete and drop down a fresh ladyfish, jack, mullet, ray, catfish, or maybe even several pork chops on a big circle hook below you. No need to cast out as these groupers hang right by the structure. Hold on and wait.

Hopefully, you have picked a spot with room to maneuver as you suddenly are doing battle with a fish possibly the size of a small car and determined not to show his face at the surface.

It's not unusual to see two anglers on one rod during a hard fight. It's also not unusual to see broken rods and broken lines. Again, don't try this unless you are properly armed. You won't win the battle but you will add more hooks, swallowed hooks, to these giant old fish possibly killing them for no good reason.

On the other hand many would like to see their numbers dwindle as offshore bottom anglers often are plagued by these giant chow hounds eating their hard-earned catch before the angler gets it topside.

Being protected they have done extremely well. So well in fact limited open seasons may be used to thin the herd, so to speak, and restore balance.

As local anglers we are blessed with an abundance and great variety of species to pursue as single great trophies or just a mess of fish to fry.

One need not have a fancy boat. A Jon boat and uncle's ancient 5-hp Johnson, canoe or kayak will do to catch huge fish locally.

No boat? No problem. The local on foot, car, or bike angler has nearly 500 miles of fish-filled canals, a river, beaches, bridges, and a place like the Sanibel Causeway where the walking angler can have a shot at big game glory with giant sharks, tarpon, and goliath grouper a short walk from their parking spot.

Tried throwing lures to big tarpon at night around our local river bridges? To me nothing beats the excitement of being in a small boat casting a jig into the darkness, senses on high alert, and actually hooking and fighting a possible 200-pound prehistoric chrome giant to boatside in shark infested waters.

Tarpon inhabit our bridges year-round in Southwest Florida, but are most cooperative during the spring and early summer months, especially for the night angler.

Top lures are large hard baits, like Bomber swimbaits with the large treble hooks removed and replaced by single hooks for fish and angler safety.

Another top lure is the Hogy plastic swimbait in the 7- and 11-inch sizes attached to their own brand Barbarian 12 ounce 10/0 jigheads.

Try an 8-foot spinning rod loaded with 65-pound braid knotted to a 5-foot, 60-80-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or



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