A group out fishing for Snapper in Florida ended up snagging a giant Goliath Grouper weighing a massive 350 pounds.
He added that the group battled with the giant for another 15 to 20 minutes when the Goliath Grouper released its grip and they got the snapper back. The snapper, however, surfaced without any scales.
They threw the line back in, and the grouper immediately latched back on.
“When he got the bite, he knew it was the grouper,” Hare told Fox News. “I said okay, I think you just hooked that grouper again. Reel as fast as you can and lift up, and hope we can get the hook in that fish.”
The Silver King Charters shared about the catch on their official Facebook page.
“Today was a trip of a lifetime for Hunter Waneck, Becca Peisker, and Charlie Reagin of LAGC from Louisiana. They were able to successfully catch & release one of the great giants of the sea: a GOLIATH GROUPER !!!!!!!!!!!!! He put up a great fight but Capt. Alex Hare and the Anglers won the battle!!! And got great pictures and successfully released him,” the post reads.
This time, they battled the fish for another 45 minutes before they were able to reel it in close enough to the boat to take pictures.
“You don’t realize how big they are. You see it on TV, but when you see one in person, they are huge. We were shocked,” he told Northwest Florida Daily News.
“He was huge. … I don’t know how much it weighed … about 300 to 400 pounds,” Hare added about the Goliath Grouper. “You weren’t going to get your arms around the whole fish I’ll tell you that. … It was huge.”
“I was absolutely shocked on how big it was, and I couldn’t believe we caught him on such small tackle,” he told For The Win Outdoors. “Fish of a lifetime for me here in Destin. I’ve only heard of 3-4 other Goliath Grouper ever being caught here.”
The Goliath Grouper didn’t go down without a fight though, as it pulled about 100 to 200 yards of line from the spool as it tried to get away, Hare told Northwest Florida Daily News. He added that the photos don’t do the Goliath Grouper any justice.
“It was by far the biggest grouper I’ve ever caught. The biggest I’ve ever caught before that was 55 pounds,” Hare told Fox News. “This one smoked that.”
“I’ve never seen people so excited in my life as those folks that got off the boat after they caught that monster fish,” he added.
The group released the Goliath Grouper, in accordance with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as the saltwater fish are critically endangered and have been protected in “both state and federal waters off Florida since 1990.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that all Goliath Groupers have to be immediately returned to the ocean “free, alive, and unharmed.” While photographs are allowed, they must be taken “only during the active act of release.”
— Oceanic Preservation Society / OPS (@OP_Society) April 24, 2018
“We got the hook out of him and then pushed his head down. He flipped his tail and splashed us all, whacked the side of the boat with his tail and then swam straight down,” Hare told Northwest Florida Daily News.
“He was healthy. We watched him swim down as far as we could see,” he added.