Epinephelus Itajara

Serranidae

Perciformes

Onshore, Nearshore, Reef, Backcountry, Flats, Wreck

75 - 150 pounds

98"

Goliath Grouper Meal Quality Decent
Goliath Grouper Game Fish Quality Excellent
Goliath Grouper Fly Fishing Quality Poor

Goliath Grouper 

Goliath Grouper 
Also Known As: Atlantic Goliath Grouper, Guasa, Mero, Grouper, Itajara

Goliath Grouper Fish Description

As the name implies, these are very large types of Grouper. The biggest grouper in the western Atlantic, they are stocky in shape, have tiny eyes and broadheads. Their pectoral and tail fins are connected along the back. They can live in the brackish water and tolerate low oxygen levels.

Goliath Grouper Size

They can grow to 8.2 feet in length, and weigh up to 800 pounds. In Florida, the largest hook and line captured sample weighed about 680 pounds. The males reach sexual maturity at the age of four to six years and lengths of 43-45 inches, and the females at the age of six to seven years and length of 47-53 inches. It is estimated that goliath grouper may live much longer, maybe up to 50 years.

Goliath Grouper Habitat and Distribution

Juveniles can survive in canals, brackish estuaries, and mangrove swamps. When they mature, they move to shallow, tropical waters among coral or artificial reefs. They are notable as one of the few groupers found in brackish water. Goliath grouper is lonely in nature as adults inhabit limited home ranges. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, they can be found from Congo to Senegal. They navigate to a yearly spawning for breeding; the location and season vary according to the population.

Grouper_Goliath_HeatMap@1600x

Goliath groupers are found in the Atlantic Ocean, their range includes the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, most of the Caribbean, and nearly the whole Brazilian coast. They are also found around the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean and in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Interesting Goliath Grouper Facts

  • Goliath groupers gather together in spawning groups as soon as they prepared to mate. The groups vary in size, number, and location. Once they are together, the females lay eggs that drift to the surface after being fertilized. The eggs then drift with the ocean currents for about 40 to 60 days, reaching the nursery areas as the baby groupers hatch out. These tiny groupers swim to the bottom of the ocean and hide in sea mangroves and grasses until they grow larger.
  • They may experience a sex reversal with age. All young groupers are female, but as they grow older they become male. Only small percentages remain long enough to become males, thus ensuring that most groupers are egg-laying females.
  • In addition to its potentially large size, an extra defense that some groupers have is the ability to change their skin color. At times the color change is as simple as changing from dark to light to mix in with different light levels. Other groupers have developed colorful patterns consisting of stripes, blotches, or spots that help them blend with the bottom of the reef regions.

Goliath Grouper Fishing

Goliath groupers are mostly caught on live or dead bait. The key to Grouper fishing is anchoring near the reefs or wreck; the fish will come out to take the bait. But it should be distant enough to be able to have a chance to pull them away before they get back and break you off. One important tip when fishing Goliath Grouper is to bounce the bait off the bottom to create some commotion. They have no predators and are not shy. In terms of fishing tackle, you need a very big reel capable of 90 pounds drag and loaded with 400 pounds plus monofilament if you want to constantly catch big ones.