by Capt. James Marko
My little brother was visiting home for the holidays and I decided to take him out for a quick fishing adventure. My brother, Jonah, is a full-time student-athlete in Ohio. After a long, cold football season I had to make sure he came back to his Floridian roots by getting him back on the water.
First, we headed west to North Captiva to get our bait, anything four pounds or less was getting released, as the species we were targeting have larger appetites. On the menu, twelve healthy Jack Crevalles. Our first bait that we dropped in at North Captiva Pass only lasted 3 minutes on the bottom. We hooked into something big on the bottom, my guess was a shark or Goliath Grouper. Jonah grabbed the rod and let the reel scream for about ten minutes, while it took him for a ride. After another twenty minutes of fighting, we finally saw what was on the other end of the line. A large nurse shark who was an experienced counter-angler. This fish was so powerful that it began pulling our boat in the opposite direction of where we were anchored. We handed our anchor off to nearby boaters while continuing to reel in the shark. We were finally able to beach the boat safely and have a successful release.
We traveled back to finish our day by trying our hand at a Goliath. My brother proceeded to hook a bait through its tail and drop it two feet above the ocean floor. And there we are, waiting for a Goliath to initiate contact. As soon as Jonah let his guard down to grab his lunch, the rod was pressed all the way against the boat. Now the race begins. He braced himself while I slowly reversed away from the hole. The boat and I did our parts, now it was up to Jonah to bring the fish to the surface. After a grueling thirty-five-minute fight with the beast, the Goliath was final revealed. As most local people are aware, the Goliath Grouper species is protected, so it is illegal to bring one out of their natural habitat. We began to slowly make our way towards the nearby shore to get closer to the fish. I quickly beached and secured the boat with my Power Poles and we hopped in the water. I was able to de-hook the fish as we answered some questions about the Goliath Grouper to some people enjoying the beach who took an interest and made their way over after watching us slowly come ashore, fish in tow. We took our picture with our trophy to remember it and safely released it back to the depths.