April 18, 2012
By Joe Richard, Assistant Editor
First, we headed out with Capt. Dave Brooker and his wife Beth, who run a charterboat out of Fort Pierce. They brought along deckhand Katie Bleyman, of Port St. Lucie, a tough little surfer who survived getting washed up inside cruel jetty rocks at Fort Pierce Inlet.
Bingo, another goliath grouper inside the Fort Pierce Inlet.
Next thing you know, Katie is on the cover of Florida Sportsman, October 2006 issue. This shot was my favorite, but the flash didn't go off properly.
The Brooker's Labrador retriever Scott was certainly impressed with our catch of goliaths.
Beth Brooker of Fort Pierce strikes a heroic pose with another goliath.
Captain Dave and Beth celebrate their latest goliath grouper. Can these guys party, or what?
Author with his goliaths back in 1979. Since they ran the photo so small in the magazine, we thought another look wouldn't hurt. These fish were speared in 30 feet of water. Layers of fat ran
through the meat, which looked unappetizing, and spearing was discontinued after that day.
Next we traveled to Flamingo and Shark River, which is Mecca for all goliaths in the underwater world. Flamingo guides Capt. Dave Lee of Homestead (in foreground) and Capt. Mark Cowart from Hollywood stayed hooked up to a variety of fish, including 17 goliaths that day.
The knocker rig with sliding egg sinker with a live finger mullet seems to out-fish anything else at Flamingo. Here, another goliath caught in the act.
These fish won't make a long run, but they're feisty and always hungry when the tide is right.
Capt. Dave Lee landed this one on fairly light spin gear. We were anchored over flat rock bottom in about 10 feet of water, near Shark River, and these fish bit on every cast while the tide was ebbing out.
Later, we headed just offshore to where the big ones bite. This unhappy jack crevalle carried some big hardware around, until he was scarfed down by a huge goliath. Notice the 20/0 circle hooks in tandem. Some days, they actually get straightened out. Using them makes it far easier to unhook a big goliath.
Our two captains wrestle with a big one, ready to remove the double hooks.
Capt. Cowart grabs a big boy by the lips. Don't try this back at home, or without gloves.
Once a goliath gives up, they're putty in your hands. We felt that a fish this big, perhaps 400 pounds, shouldn't be dragged on deck. It would be hard on your lower back, and certainly wouldn't do the fish any good. That much weight might pop the fish's vertebrae, for instance.