‘We caught a sea monster’: Florida fishermen reel in massive grouper

Capt. Jason Boyll, left, and Joshua Jorgensen are shown with a Warsaw grouper they caught off the coast of Florida on Jan. 22, 2021. BlacktipH Fishing Show/YouTube

Two Florida men are celebrating the catch of a lifetime after they hooked a whopping 300-pound fish known as a Warsaw grouper.

The super-sized fish lives in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s known as one of the hardest creatures to hook — and even harder to reel in.

Pro fisherman Joshua Jorgensen finally caught the fish on Jan. 22 after a three-year effort to find one, according to a statement he provided to Fox News. Jorgensen also shared footage of his struggle to catch the grouper via YouTube, on his BlacktipH Fishing Show channel.

“We caught a sea monster!” Jorgensen wrote on YouTube.

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Jorgensen and his boat captain, Jason Boyll, hooked the grouper near a coral reef off Fort Myers, Fla., in the Gulf of Mexico. He says they used a banded rudderfish as bait and didn’t have to wait long for the action to begin.

“Within five minutes of fishing, Jason got a bite on his reel,” Jorgensen wrote. “He started reeling and the line got very tight. A giant Warsaw had taken the bait!”

Boyll and Jorgensen took turns cranking the fishing rod to haul in the grouper. They counted 20 minutes of “fight time” before they finally reeled it in, after an epic battle that involved about 122 metres (400 feet) of fishing line.

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“It was a monster! The fish floated to the surface and we all started screaming,” Jorgensen said.

He added that it took four men to lift the gigantic fish over the edge of the boat.

The grouper measured about 2.1 metres (7 feet) in length, and had spines of up to 60 centimetres (2 feet) in length along its back.

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They had to haul it off the boat with a tractor when they returned to shore, and it ultimately tipped the scales at a whopping 133 kilograms (294 pounds).

However, Jorgensen says the fish was likely “well over 300 lbs” when they first pulled it from the water.

“These fish normally lose 10 per cent of their body weight before we can get them to the dock,” he said.

Capt. Jason Boyll, left, and Joshua Jorgensen are shown with a Warsaw grouper they caught off the coast of Florida on Jan. 22, 2021. It was the largest fish Jorgensen had ever seen, but not the largest for Capt. Boyll, whose company has taken other fishermen out to hunt the Warsaw grouper in the past. BlacktipH Fishing Show/YouTube

Boyll previously helped a client catch a 350-pound specimen in December 2019, in a headline-grabbing achievement that prompted a warning from fish and wildlife officials.

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute celebrated the capture of the “big old fish” at the time, but cautioned against specifically hunting them.

“FWC does not encourage the targeting of Warsaw grouper since the status of the population in the Gulf is unknown,” it said in a Facebook post.

The Warsaw grouper is among the rarest of its kind, though it’s not the largest. The Goliath grouper, which also lives in the Atlantic Ocean, can weigh as much as 363 kilograms (800 pounds).

But that’s a big fish for another day.

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