Swimming with Goliath

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Wewahitchka seventh grader Daniel Blakely slew Goliath two Sundays ago.

Well, not the actual giant, but it was a large goliath grouper.

On Sunday, March 14, Daniel and his dad Billy Blakely, and their friend Steven Pitts and sons Jason and Jesse, lit out in a private vessel about 30 miles offshore of Indian Pass, fishing the bottom with pinfish and other live bait to see what they might find deep down.

“You don’t never know what you’re going to catch,” said mom Renee Blakely.

At about 11:30 a.m., Daniel caught something, something fierce, and for 40 minutes he fought with it. “He would only give up the rod for five minutes to my husband,” said Renee Blakely.

When he finally was about to pull it in, he knew better than to keep it. Florida made it illegal to keep goliath grouper in 1990, and the species was listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered in 1994.

“My husband said ‘Get in the water and take a picture,” said mom.

Based on estimates, they think the fish may have been about 200 pounds. “You can’t really weigh them since you don’t take them out of the water,” said Renee Blakely.

After that, the fish swam away. “It went back down to the bottom,” she said. “It survived.”

This article originally appeared on The Star: Swimming with Goliath

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