What's hot: With inshore waters still hot during mid afternoons, many inshore guides have been running to the reefs after the morning bite. Sharks and goliath grouper are maligned for their fish-stealing habits, but turning the tables on them is a lot of fun.
Tackle: With the chance of hooking something weighing more than 200 pounds, use heavy-duty gear. Several setups allow you to land the monsters. A 6/0 or 9/0 reel spooled with at least 150-pound braided line is heavy enough to put the brakes on most sharks and some goliaths. Leaders are usually made of 300-pound test cable with 16/0 circle hooks and heavy-duty swivels crimped on each end. If the goliaths are finicky, 300-pound test monofilament leader will get more bites.
Tips: Another rig that can pull a huge Goliath from the bottom is a simple rope attached to a 10-foot 300- to 500-pound test monoleader rigged with a 2-pound sinker. A big bait is put on the hook and lowered to hang just above the bottom. The end of the rope is tied to a cleat, and the angler puts on gloves and waits. When the fish bites, an epic tug-of-war ensues. We have caught goliaths of more than 400 pounds with this method. Venting fish that have expanded air bladders is important to ensure their healthy release.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at (727) 944-3474.