Goliath grouper caught on Sanibel

SANIBEL, Fla.- A couple fishing at the beach got a huge surprise when they reeled in a 300 pound goliath grouper.

“I have never seen a fish that big and I fish a lot, and I have caught some big fish,” said Taylor Buckely.

“It was just a spectacle,” he said.

Early Wednesday, Buckely was relaxing on Sanibel and noticed a couple fishing with a large fishing rod.

“But then I could see the rod tip moving, so there was a fish on it,” said Buckley.

Graciela Mahana shot the whole thing on her cell phone.

“For me it was very, very crazy because she was fighting with it,” said Mahana.

Mahana says the woman fought the goliath grouper for about an hour.

“You could see a dorsal fin and then a tail would come out,” said Buckley.

Finally they were able to get the fish out of the water.

“You would never expect that in a surf situation. You don’t catch fish like that by casting in to the surf,” said Buckley.

The couple took a couple photos with the big catch and then released the fish back into the water.


  1. Congratulations to the Buckleys but most especially thank you so much for being a real role model for conservation and management by “catching and releasing” the fish. If a fish of this size and age is successful in spawning, just think of the thousands of grouper for which you might have provided a future existence by your good actions!
    Yay, Congratulations, and Thanks!

    • It is actually illegal to keep any goliath grouper, no matter what size. It’s also very bad for a fish of this size to be completely out of the water as it puts tremendous pressure on their internal organs and bony structure. These fish are actually making a comeback and are occasionally caught on heavy gear off Sanibel

  2. That is one big grouper. Goliaths are release only.

    FYI – Goliaths are release only. While photos are legal, it is illegal to take Golaiths out of the water to take the photo. Weight of the fish will cause internal organ damage if the fish is out of the water. Regulations are very specific about that. Wonder if FWC will prosecute ?

    • so Jennifer, would you prefer that they just cut the line and leave the hook and sinker attached to the fish? you don’t wade out into waist-deep water and stick your hands down a 300 lb. fish’s mouth to remove the hook because the fish could go crazy and hurt you. idiot people like you should just mind your own business.

  3. Goliath Groupers are protected by state and federal regulations since 1990. Removing them from the water is very detrimental to their health as they are very big and heavy.
    From FWC: ◾Large goliath groupers should be left in the water during release. The skeletal structure of large goliath grouper cannot adequately support their weight out of the water without some type of damage. If a large goliath is brought on-board a vessel or out of the water, it is likely to sustain some form of internal injury and therefore be considered harvested.

  4. Yes you should not take Goliath Grouper out of the water. Best practice is to just jump in and to your photo taken with this marvelous creature. If anyone would like to learn more about the Goliath Grouper I hold sight seeing tours here in Southwest Florida. The only catch is that you have to reel em’ in first!

    -Capt. Ben Chancey | Chew On This Fishing Charters

  5. they are lucky they didnt get arrested its illegal to remove them from the water, this is not a big deal off sanibel there are many that have been caught

  6. Espectaculaaaarrr !!!! Esa DIOSA rubia es mi hermana de Argentina. Y esa cosa que volvio al agua NO ENTRA EN MI PECERA……!!! Extraordinary !!!

  7. They weren’t expecting to catch a Goliath;not off of the beach. I have caught them about 2 miles out of Wiggins pass ( Reef ). You should know the do’s and don’ts ( Laws & regulations ) when fishing anywhere. Ignorance of the law is not in your favor.That fish at 300lb is certainly susceptable to skeletal / organ damage.The bouyancy factor in salt water is “considerable”. Release was the smart / right choice. Keeping ( “Many” people know the story now that it’s on social media ) ; carries a “stiff” penalty ! :)

  8. Yeah so glad you released a fish that is destroying our local ecosystem. The comments above are ignorant and make me sick!