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Leave Unique, Inedible Fish Alone

Leave Unique, Inedible Fish Alone

A Goliath Grouper at Looe Key in the Florida Keys. (Kyle Lippenberger/Dreamstime)

By Tuesday, 05 September 2017 06:47 PM Current | Bio | Archive

This topic is red hot, highly debated and probably should not be discussed at cocktail parties along with sex, politics, and God. Every one of these topics get heated up very quickly. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering having a limited season by permit to harvest the goliath grouper. The scientific name for the species is Epinephelus itajara also known as "jewfish."

This member of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters, around large coral and artificial reefs, live at a depth of about five to 50 feet. I have personally seen goliath grouper grow inside a large coral head literally being trapped because it’s too large to get out. Goliath grouper are believed to live up to about 40 years old and many scientists believe they could live up to 100. Are you ready for this? Goliath’s can grow up to 800 pounds. This is a monster!

One of the greatest geographical locations where the goliath is doing extremely well is in South Florida and the Florida Keys. I have read quite a few scientific articles claiming that goliath eat almost entirely smallish mud crabs, and I can tell you that in my opinion, this is not true. In South Florida one of the greatest baits is a live Stingray and if you are around a local dock in South Florida many fishermen have lost hook, line, and sinker while the goliath has inhaled anything alive on their line.

This mammoth fish is totally protected from harvest and is recognized as critically endangered. Are goliath grouper good to eat? Good question. You are not allowed to kill them; how would I know? But I can tell you as a Bluewater captain my entire life, an 892 pound Mako shark I caught on my vessel and considered a delicacy had to be thrown away. It was inedible. It is my experience that the top end of any salt water species, when they become as big as they can get, usually are tough. No different than a super old cow or eating a super old chicken.

The largest goliath on record is 680 pounds caught in Florida in May of 1961.

They have been protected since 1990. The massive debate now taking place all throughout Florida by the FFW is over their proposal for a $300 tag fee drawn at random, while suggesting that 100 tags be issued each year. The debate is generally divided into two "lines."

Divers and snorkelers in Florida do not want to deplete the resource and consider it a real gem for their clients. The dive industry in Florida is monstrous. On the other hand, charter captains and fishermen in general are for the legislation to kill — on a limited basis. There are many reefs in Florida where you literally cannot bring your catch into the boat because it has been inhaled by a goliath.

Every article I believe deserves an opinion from the writer as to what side of the line they stand. My general opinion is that I just don’t see a reason why these fish have to be killed; they are unique and big. A large fish certainly cannot be tender, and the way the law stands now, a charter captain allows the angler with an extremely heavy rod and reel using a pound test of usually 80 to 130 pounds line to hook the fish and then apply as much pressure as his client can take. In a short period of time, if the angler does not fold, the great fish is alongside the boat and is very docile allowing the angler to have fabulous pictures for his den at home.

Miss Lynn Simmons of Splashdown Dive Charters in Boynton Beach says "they are so gentle sometimes they will come to you and let you hold them."

Simmons said the spawning months of August and September are best times to find goliath on wrecks along the coast of Palm Beach County.

I have personally seen goliath grouper with no less than 10 hooks in their mouth which corrode and disappear very quickly in salt water. It is an unmitigated fact that the Goliath is a phenomenon which appears to be recovering.

This writer believes to leave the law just as it is, the way it is now. This way both divers and fishermen get to enjoy the uniqueness of this great beast.

Mankind almost killed the last Buffalo. Why didn't we, and why don't we, just leave the Buffalo alone? That’s the way I see it. You read it first on Newsmax!

Tred Barta is an American hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman who hosts "The Best and Worst of Tred Barta" on the Versus Channel. As a fisherman, Barta has amassed several world records, some still current. Barta experienced spinal stroke and cancer in 2009, leaving him paralyzed from the armpits down. However, Barta continues to hunt and fish as he did before the accident. Overcoming limitations and fears is part of "The Barta Way." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Goliath grouper are believed to live up to about 40 years old and many scientists believe they could live up to 100. Mankind almost killed the last Buffalo. Why didn't we, and why don't we, just leave the Buffalo alone?
buffalo, Epinephelus itajara, jewfish
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 06:47 PM
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