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Jewfish or Goliath Grouper

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Port Canaveral Jewfish or Goliath Grouper

Charter Fishing at Port Canaveral

Tuesday January 23, 2018

An incredible trophy fish of the past, the mammoth sized jewfish has withstood the test of over fishing and harvest by the advent of spear guns and modern hook and line fishing. During the 1950's when SCUBA diving was being pioneered and Florida's population was starting to really grow the Jewfish was targeted for their mild white meat and ease of catching or spearing. After all if you catch a grouper in excess of 250 pounds you'll feed a lot of people and put some money on your table if you sell the fish commercially.

The Florida Wildlife Commission has put a total moritorium on Jewfish harvesting and the success of the species as a comeback has been incredible. While we are unable to target these giants as sportsfishermen, they are turning up as a consistent bycatch on a regular basis by our anglers. Getting a photo of your catch when you are not able to bring it aboard has proven to be a problem and more often than not no anglers want to go swimming with their catch to record the release. But if you do catch one, that's exactly what you must do if you're serious about recording the event and showing the size of your catch.

Jewfish are usually caught on live baits as an incidental catch and are caught several times during the year by our anglers. Don't confuse these groupers with other grouper that have bag and harvest limits in Florida. If you do happen to catch one while on a charter with your fishing guide encourage yourself to take a quick dip with your fish and let someone take your photo before releasing it safely and quickly to it's environment.

Charter Fishing Updates for Giant Goliath Grouper out of Port Canaveral Florida

If you go fishing with Lagooner fishing guides, more than likely you'll be fishing with me on one of my Action Craft boats. We won't be targeting the aforementioned Goliath Grouper or Jewfish because of the restrictions and limits on harvesting this species. But there's always a chance of hooking one up when you're fishing around Port Canaveral and it's surrounding waterways. Pictured adjacent to this article is a photograph of me helping a jewfish recover after being caught by one of my anglers in the summer of 2018. We quickly unhooked the fish and jumped in the water to help the fish recover and one of my anglers jumped into the water with his camera to record the event.

What an exciting day for this angler as he caught the biggest fish of his life, taking a photograph for the memory before releasing this fish to spawn one day and help with the proliferation of the Jewfish population.

"We hooked up with this jewfish in the shallow water around the jetties at Port Canaveral in the summer of 2018. It was amazing to feel the pull of this animal and hold it in the water before watching it swim safely away and live on in the Florida waters." Explained one excited angler after doing battle with this small 65 pound Goliath Grouper.

Where Is Port Canaveral Florida?

Port Canaveral is located between Daytona Beach and Fort Pierce and is directly east of Orlando and it's theme parks Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World. Port Canaveral is almost dead center on Central Florida's eastern shoreline and it's also the epicenter of fishing on it's coastline. Located thirty minutes due east of the Orlando International Airport on exit 52 is the small Kelly Park where you will launch with your guide and visit such famous locations like Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River Lagoon and further south to Sebastian Inlet. The adventurous may want to visit the deep blue sea and experience offshore fishing and deep sea fishing out of Port Canaveral (four minutes east of Kelly Park). Take a look at our Central Florida Fishing Destinations page for more information.

The head and fins of this massive fish is covered with small black spots with irregular dark and vertical bars present on the sides of body. Unlike many grouper the pectoral and caudal fins are rounded and first dorsal fin is shorter than and not separated from second dorsal. Adult Jewfish are huge and up to 800 and beyond pounds, their eyes are quite small for their large size.

Immediately upon seeing a jewfish an experienced angler will recognize it as one of the grouper species. Once you've determined that it is a grouper the rounded tail will be a dead giveaway as a goliath.

These larger grouper are found nearshore and inshore often around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges while their young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars and currents. These groupers are more abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters but we find many in Central Florida at Sebastian Inlet and off Port Canaveral.
In the east central Florida area Jewfish are abundant almost anywhere there is tide flow and structure. Canaveral's buoy line, wrecks and reefs hold large numbers of goliath grouper. We've observed as many as forty of these massive fish on a large rock in 12 feet of water on the Canaveral Shoals.

Sebastian Inlet during the summer is a great place to snorkle and observe jewfish when the clean incoming tide makes the visibility favorable. Sebastian is a wonderful area to catch both large and small jewfish when the conditions are right. As Goliath grouper have rebounded over the last 20 years, it's become a great sports fishery for anglers in Florida.


Jewfish Spawn over summer months and have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. These fish feed on crustaceans and other fish.
Goliath grouper, commonly called jewfish, are totally protected from harvest in Florida waters. It is illegal to boat, gaff or harm a jewfish. All care during handling and releasing must be diligently done as quickly as possible.

Articles, Photos & Information About Jewfish
Port Canaveral Jewfish

How to Catch a Goliath Grouper

Once you locate a "Goliath Grouper" simply gather five smooth stones from a nearby stream and use an old fashioned slingshot to launch one between their eyes. "I wish it was that simple" explains Captain Richard of Lagooner Fishing Guides. Catching a jewfish can be done if you can locate them and match their size with the tackle you have , but getting the correct bait to entice them seems to be the key to success. Large active baits tend to be the best, a small jack crevelle, large mullet, turbo sized pogies and other baits seem to attract the attention of these oversized fish more often than dead or small baits. That's not to say that they won't eat smaller baits, but in our experience, large bait is the ticket.

Tackle for the goliath grouper varies depending on the size of the fish you are targeting and the structure around. PowerPro Kevlar lines are popular as they stand up to the stress of these monsters and the structure they tend to wrap you up in. Large fish will require 100 lb test line or bigger and often will still not be adequate. The key to success is often the skill of the angler and the Captain navigating the boat.

Keep in mind that you must not land the grouper once it surfaces. It must be released unharmed and not be removed at any time. Many anglers jump in the water and have their photographs taken alongside the fish to document and validate their catch. Unfortunately the IGFA will probably not validate any records caught in Florida as they must be weighed out of the water which is against state and federal laws.


It is unlawful to harvest, possess, land, purchase, sell, or exchange

State Record

680 pounds

Jewfish, Goliath Grouper Fishing Trips

Reviewed by Captain Richard Bradley on Last modified: November 29 2016 20:34:48.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

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Fishing Reports

January - 2018 Fishing Report

The Banana River comes alive during the colder months of year and January is the peak season for deep hole trout, redfish and juvenile black drum. We've been fishing the deeper canals and slews with success during the cold fronts when the water is cold and also catching some great sized fish on the flats adjacent to these holes. Look for the Banana River to improve as the winter gets colder and the fish transition to their winter haunts in pursuit of cold, stable water. Look for mature fish to seek warmth on the shallow shorelines nearby.

Fishing Forecast

January - 2018 Fishing Forecast

Is it going to be an Indian Summer this January or possibly a deep freeze Polar Vortex? These are the questions that all fishing guides want to know. Depending on how this winter plays out with temperatures, winds and other conditions will dictate how our fishing will pan out in January. Unless the water is churned up by high winds, January will produce some of the cleanest and clearest water of the year in Central Florida as colder water kills of plankton life in the lagoons and mild northeast winds often push in clearer water in the ocean. Look for great inshore fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon and Northern end of the Indian River toward Titusville. If the winds and water are all frothed up it can be a crap shoot for fishing in almost every inshore locations and will shutdown all offshore fishing due to small craft warnings and safety warnings. However, between fronts, look for some of the best fishing of the year in January both inshore and offshore in Central Florida.

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Lagooner Fishing Guides
Cocoa Beach's premier saltwater fishing guide with over 25 years of charter fishing experience in his native waters.
Telephone: 321-868-4953

204 Garfield Avenue
Cocoa Beach, FL

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TripAdvisor Review

Review / Trip Advisor

Inshore and Offshore Charter Fishing near Orlando and Cocoa Beach, Florida. Catch redfish, sea trout, tarpon, snook and many other saltwater gamefish aboard the world famous Lagooner flats fishing boat with renowned Captain Richard Bradley.

Captain Richard and Captain Gina - My husband and father had a great relaxing time on board with Captain Richard. The fish were not biting however, the Captain made the trip worthwhile. Will definitely be scheduling again for future trips.
about Lagooner Fishing Charters on August 5, 2016

4 / 5 stars 4 star rating

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