2/23/12 Looking for goliath grouper fishing islamorada in february!

I had Martin Williamson today from across the pond on 2/23/13.  He fished with me a few years ago and we had an excellent day then catching tarpon, hammerhead shark, several other sharks, plus some other rod benders.  Today Martin was after an islamorada goliath grouper fishing trip.  Winds were a bit too high to get out into the gulf to hit the wrecks for them, so tried some other protected areas.  First things in the morning with the low water we hit some channel run-offs to stock up on bait – lots of big ladyfish plus a mess of sea trout, jacks, and even some pompano, mackerel, and bluefish mixed in.  This was going to be tough to leave!  We put big rod out for fun and caught 4 blacktip sharks as well, saw a couple tarpon roll in the distance but not much activity from them.  Tarpon fishihng in Islamorada in February is a definite possibility – but they can be very hit or miss!  After we were loaded on ladies, we ventured to the next spot which is a hole that sometimes holds goliaths as well as other big fish.  We anchored up, tide against the wind but got the boat positioned right.  Had a big pack of cobias come right up under the boat… quickly reeled in our pinfish on top and hooked one!  Martin dropped a bait to another though unfortunately we missed the hookset, but he caught the other one on the surface bait – good job!  Not a huge fish but a first for him.  A bit later both big rods went off with the ladyfish on the bottom, a double header!  Both at first appeared to be large sawfish as they dogged us and didn’t stop despite the heavy pressure we both were putting on them.  Sawfish in Islamorada have made a terrific comeback.  I gave chase to Martin’s fish leaving the other in the rod holder going the opposite direction!  Eventually the fish behind us kind of rolled over and I told Martin to switch to that one as it was acting more like a big grouper now, thumping quite a bit.  Sure enough it was, hooray another first for Martin a 150 lb goliath grouper!  We then focused on the other rod which was still bowed over.  We leadered up the behemoth on the mono filament line… all of a sudden his bill broke the surface and slashed violently!  We got him up one more time like that but this time he cut us off, but we were happy to get a look at the beast.  My first sawfish of the year, and yet another first for Martin.  After this we fished for a bit under an hour back at the hole, alas not much other action.  Decided to hit a high-tide spot for some reds on the way home which worked out nicely.  Martin caught about 10 or so mostly nice slot size redfish, something else he hadn’t caught yet!  A fine end to a fabulous day february fishing the florida keys.  This was another special trip for Martin and a great birthday present for himself!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk