Jewfish Description: 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.
Where Jewfish Are Found: 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.
Florida Record Jewfish: 680 pounds
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.
Florida Jewfish Regulations:
It is unlawful to harvest, possess, land, purchase, sell, or exchange
Florida's pioneer anglers quickly learned about the giant goliath grouper that spends it's entire life nearshore from the mangrove estuaries to the deeper wrecks on our contintental shelf. As the recently renamed jewfish or Goliath Grouper is such a easily targeted fish with spearguns, sports and commercial fishing tackle, it seemed that the entire population of jewfish were wiped out by the mid 1960's and thought to be a non-recoverable species. With close management from the Florida Wildlife Commission this great grouper appears to be back in full force and in great numbers around the state.
In the era of political correctness some have decided not to maintain the the long lived name of Jewfish (named after Jonah's fish) but have chosen to now rename the large grouper after the uncircumcised Philistine that King David slew in the old testiment named Goliath. Don't take our word for it... Look it up yourself, The entire story can be found in 1 Samuel 17:1-58. Now on with the Jewfish... errr... Goliath Grouper.
You are not allowed to harvest these giants of the coastline and there is talk of allowing a harvest in the future, but until then you must release all Jewfish unharmed and immediatly as you may not even remove them from the water to be dehooked.
Fishing Hot Spot Matrix: Match each species with locations and month's best bets.