There are plenty of things that divide us as a country. Race, politics, gender, religion… but if there is one thing most all American’s have in common is the belief that bigger is better. Bigger homes, bigger cars, bigger paychecks, bigger boats, bigger vacations, bigger burgers, it’s a go big or go home lifestyle we are all searching for. Peter Gabriel’s hit song, Big Time, could be America’s new national anthem. The world of sport fishing is no different. All fishermen dream of the big one, the big catch, the BIG fish. Perhaps that is why Florida attracts so many fishermen. It has more coastline than any other state in the lower 48, giving sport anglers bigger chances of hauling in a monster.
So what is the big monster fish that tops the list of Florida anglers’ targets? Well, that question isn’t so easy to answer. Several Florida species contend for the title. Sharks of course are a favorite among anglers hunting monsters. Pound for pound hooking onto a big shark, like a hammerhead or bull shark, can be one of the toughest fights of a fisherman’s life. These bruisers are exceptionally strong and have tremendous endurance, and even small sharks can take hours to wear down and land. But big sharks inhabit all the world’s oceans, so they aren’t exactly unique to Florida.
Marlin and big billfish are monsters too. Big Blue Marlin can attain lengths over 15 feet and weights well over half a ton. The largest verified Blue Marlin caught under IGFA rules was 1,402 pounds! Sadly though, it was caught off the coast of Brazil. Just like sharks, Marlins can be found in oceans all over the world.
Several fishermen swear that Grouper are the fish to target if you looking to hook into a massive fish and searching for the Everest of reel ruining goliaths. Grouper are big brutes of reefs and structure in deep waters along both the Atlantic and Gulf coast of Florida. Looking like creatures out of a Japanese monster movie, they rank each year by weight amongst the most massive catches of any species in Florida.
Last but not least are Tarpon, Florida’s signature species. Growing up to 8 foot long and 280 pounds, they may not hold the titles for the longest or heaviest fish caught, but they may be the hardest fighters pound for pound of any sport fish in the world. Widespread in many of the world’s oceans, places like Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor are world renowned for catching these Silver Kings.
During Florida’s 80-day Tarpon season, Boca Grande Pass produces an average of 5,000 plus tarpon landed which is more than any other location in the world. Boca Grande’s deep water channel provides strong currents that regularly pull out smaller inshore species from Charlotte Harbor for the Tarpon, Sharks, Marlin and Grouper to feed on. Perhaps nowhere else in Florida do anglers have consistent opportunities to take rod and reel breaking giants.
Wanting to have a big fish story of your own? With so many leviathans prowling Florida waters, it is the state you need to fish if you are looking to hunt monsters.