How To Catch Goliath Grouper: Fishing tips for the Jewfish

Kristian Ole



If you’re into catching the largest fish species, you don’t want to miss out on the Goliath Grouper. As massive as it is, it’s still possible to have the best shot of a goliath grouper.  

Goliath groupers are known to be gentle giants. They are the largest in the West Atlantic Ocean. A typical grouper can weigh up to 363 kg. If you may have been lucky enough to encounter one of these fish, you may have wanted to know how to catch them.

I’ll discuss the best techniques for catching Goliath grouper in this article. I’ll cover everything from the general overview of the species, gear setup, and where to catch it. I’ll also talk about tackle for the species and fishing techniques. 

So, whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, I have something for you!

Species Overview 

NameGoliath Grouper
Latin NameEpinephelus itajara
Size8 feet (2.5m)
WeightUp to 800 pounds
Where to findThe Gulf of Mexico; the Bahamas; the Caribbean; the Brazilian coast; the Florida Keys; the coast of Africa, near reefs and freshwater environments.
Preferred seasonSummer
Best weatherWarm weather
Temperature700F to 800F

Gear & Setup 

Fishing LocationCoast, the Florida Keys, reefs, drop-offs
TechniqueLive bait, artificial lures, Jig, Trolling, and Fly.
Best BaitSardines
Best LuresTruscend lure
Fishing rod length7 to 9 feet
Fishing rod actionHeavy action rod
KnotsUni Knot, Improved Clinch Knot, the Palomar Knot
Fishing lineMonofilament fishing line
ReelPenn Fathom Lever Drag

Fight to Expect from Goliath Grouper

Goliath groupers are known for their massive size and voracious appetites. So, it’s no surprise they are a popular target for anglers. But while they may be easy to hook, these fish can be notoriously difficult to land.

Goliath groupers know they are hooked before you even realize it. They are incredibly powerful and will put up a fight you’ve never seen before. They tend to swim fast and further away when hooked. So, they may break you off if you’re not quick or aggressive. 

Goliath groupers are not known for giving up easily. They have been known to drag boats around and even break fishing lines. That’s why you should be strategic when tackling them to increase your chances of catching one.

Tackle for Goliath Grouper

You can tackle a goliath grouper using the right rod, reel, or line. I’ll explain each one of them below:

The Rod

When choosing a rod for catching a Goliath grouper, you need to consider the following: 

  • The type of water you’ll be fishing in. If fishing in open water, you’ll need a longer rod to cast your line further. I recommend a 7 to 9 feet rod and one that is rated 50 Ibs and above. 
  • The size of the fish. As for the size of the fish, you need to make sure your rod can handle the weight. I recommend a heavy-action rod like the Berkley Big Game Spinning Rod. With it, you can pull the fish without worrying about the rod breaking. 

The Reel

Like the rod, don’t use just any kind of reel since it may fail to handle the load of the grouper.

If fishing in open water, you’ll need a reel with at least a 2-speed gear system to quickly retrieve your line. For this, I recommend the Penn Fathom Lever Drag. With this reel, you’ll be able to shift gears whenever appropriate. 

The Line

The type of line you use is also essential when fishing for a Goliath grouper. I find the Big Game Monofilament Line by Berkley to be strong enough to handle the weight of a goliath grouper. 

Mono lines are still popular today and are easy to use. They’ll ensure the hook is firmly set in the mouth of the fish.  

That said, it would help to know the best fishing places for a goliath grouper. 


You can increase your likelihood of catching a goliath grouper if you have the right tools. I recommend using live bait, going for a 2-speed gear reel, and fishing when the water is warm. Most importantly, be ready to fight the battle when you finally hook the fish. All the best!

Where to Catch Goliath Grouper

goliath grouper close up
Image Credit: Magda Ehlers,

Goliath grouper are most commonly found in shallow, coastal waters. They often congregate around reefs and other structures. You can find them in the Gulf of Mexico and along Florida’s coast. 

Goliath grouper prefer warm water because it is easier for them to find food. The warmer water temperatures also help them to stay active and healthy. So, you can have the most success catching the fish when the weather is warm. 

If you’re hoping to catch a Goliath grouper, your best bet is to head to a coastal area in the summer or fall. Look for reefs, shipwrecks, or other habitats in the water where the fish might congregate. 

There are several ways to catch a goliath grouper. One technique is by use of a boat. This enables you to move around and access more bait and tackle options. However, if you’re planning to use a boat, make sure your boat and gear are up to the task. 

Fishing Techniques for Goliath Grouper

goliath grouper
Image credit: Private photo

There are several techniques you can use when fishing for Goliath Grouper. These are as follows: 


One popular method is to use live bait to attract the Goliath Grouper. 

Live baits, such as sardines, are much more likely to work than artificial baits. Sardines have a strong smell that is likely to attract predatory grouper fish.

Using live bait will improve the hookup ratio and ensure a successful catch.


Another technique is to use a large, heavy lure. 

Groupers are attracted to large, flashy objects. This is because they lie in wait for their prey before attacking. So, by using a large, flashy lure, you are more likely to attract the fish’s attention. 

An example of a fishing lure that will heighten your angling experience is the RUSCEND Lure. This lure has a high simulation and is used to catch a wide variety of species.

Once the Goliath Grouper is hooked, it is vital to reel it slowly and steadily.


Jigging is a fun and effective way to catch groupers hiding in reef crevices.

There are a few popular jigging lures for groupers that seem to produce results time and time again. 

One of the most popular lures is the Actume Electric Fishing Lure. The Actume lure will increase your catch ratio and can stay up for about 1.5 to 2 hours. In addition, you can use it to create a realistic swimming motion that will bring these big fish in from a distance. 

Learn more about robotic fishing lure in this article.


Many anglers also use the trolling technique to catch goliath groupers. This involves dragging a bait or lure behind a boat, usually while moving slowly. The movement of the bait attracts the fish, and the fish will often strike at the bait. 

When trolling, be sure not to overwork or overweight your motor.

More catch-guides: How to Catch King Mackerel: Fishing Tips For The Kingfish


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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