We don’t get to fish offshore much anymore, so we jumped at the chance to go out with the owner of one of the best offshore charter operations in the area. Bad weather cancelled the trip 3 weeks ago, so the anticipation for Sunday’s try was just over the top. I awoke about 5am to the sound of thunder and an immediate sense of dread. Luckily it was just a passing shower and so we were off to the marina a little early, where the father and son team were working together preparing the boat. We were off in no time, and off to the first stop to collect some bait. The big puffer fish we caught was not on the bait list, so we quickly headed to spot number 2 where we loaded the livewell with perfect sized pinfish, along with 1 sand perch, and a few big scaled sardines. All perfect species and sized for the grouper we were off to find.

It was so nice to be on a great big wide boat with tons of room and a fantastic captain who knows what he’s doing. He worked us from spot to spot catching fish and keeper grouper at every drop.

My boy was so excited to get his first keeper red grouper to the boat.

We even found some surprisingly big red grouper in the not so far offshore waters we were fishing, with both Dawn and I catching our biggest to date.

The gag grouper season recently opened and we got a few of those to take home as well.

The captain did an amazing job of keeping us away from the goliath groupers after I hooked 1 at the very first stop that just about brought me to my knees when I tried to stop it from returning to its home and breaking me off on the 20# spinning tackle. But with the last spot we wanted to put a few more gag grouper in the boat, which meant fishing structure and possibly more goliaths. I quickly boated a decent keeper, then got another almost to the boat when I saw a huge shape behind it, so large I thought it had to be a shark, before I saw the distinguishing feature of the big round tale of a goliath grouper.  The adults saw it just as it saw us, and it turned and expelled a huge cloud of goliath poop and headed back to the bottom.  We continued getting a few bites when the 2 boys fishing the port side together both got their baits hammered. My boy’s fish got into the structure pretty quick and broke him off leaving him a little frustrated.

The other boy said he was stuck too, but when dad grabbed the rod he knew it wasn’t stuck in the bottom, but in a goliath grouper. So the 2 of them proceeded to work together and battle the beast. Dad got the fish off the bottom and handed the rod off, and I was astonished to see this young boy work what turned out to be a 100-150# goliath grouper all the way to the boat.

The fish was released quickly in great shape after a few pictures. The bite stopped after that and it was time to head to the dock after one of the best fishing trips I’ve ever had. We topped it off with a great evening by taking the families and some of the fresh grouper to a local Italian restaurant where we all feasted and shared in our experiences of the day.