As most of us know, the Everglades is a priority destination for most anglers around the world. The opportunities are endless, and anybody can find themselves in unique situations on almost any day.
The backwaters of the Everglades are important ecological wonders that support diverse populations of fish we find in our local waters. Juveniles enjoy the company of complex mangrove systems and ample food sources allowing them to thrive and grow comfortably. Snook, tarpon, redfish, and many more are just the tip of the iceberg. One species of fish, the Goliath Grouper also uses these locations as a nursery and begin the journey to becoming a giant in these back country waters.
SO what does this have to do with us anglers? Well, many of these systems have water that is usually clear enough to see and you can use this to spot and stalk these young Goliaths. Tangling with these bad boys in close quarters is one of the more challenging experiences I’ve found.
The fish like to hang out in sticky mangrove root systems, overhanging branches, and hard bottom oyster beds close to the shore. When you have the water quality it’s about carefully scanning the area to locate one of these fish. The blotched brown/dark yellow coloration of the juveniles help them blend into these settings and are often overlooked or mistaken. Not extremely mobile, these fish glue themselves in an ambush position to capture prey. I’ve thrown at fish to 20 lbs and they generally take most baitfish patterns without hesitation. Once you hook one...hang on! I like to size up to at least a 10 wt because they will immediately try and run for the deepest section of mangroves they can find. The initial burst of power is where the trouble starts but if you can manage to keep pressure and turn them away from the mangroves you will most likely have a good shot at getting the fish to the boat.
Photography & Written byTy Duplaga
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