Anglers are adventurers by heart, and these four catches offer rare bragging rights and challenge in equal measure.
Sawfish [Delray Beach]
Let’s start with an important note: This is an endangered species and must be released unharmed if you snag one, so a few photographs and the thrill of the catch will have to suffice. That out of the way, this huge member of the ray family is an extraordinary (and extraordinarily rare) sighting, one that can weigh in at up to 700 pounds and give you the fight of your life. Your best bet is a late-night fishing excursion a few miles off Delray or Boynton Beach, packing a 100-pound-plus monofilament line and chumming the waters before casting out to attract a sawfish.
Giant Barracuda [Longboat Key]
It’s not so much that barracuda are rare – they’ll sometimes leap out of the water to try to grab another catch off the line – as it is that hooking this wary fish is a worthy challenge. The reefs off Longboat Key are teeming with the toothy predator, but to actually land one, you’ll need to set up shop far from the reef so they won’t spy your boat. Cast far into the shelves with a tube lure and any small bait that will pique the voracious barracuda’s appetite, and prepare to reel in a feisty, thrashing fish that can weigh up to 50 pounds.
Where to Stay The Resort at Longboat Key Club
Goliath Grouper [Key West]
Grouper is a tasty fish and an abundant one, but odds are you won’t pull up one of these 700-pound behemoths the first time you cast out with a capable guide. They’re especially fond of crustaceans and can be found in muddy bottoms and reefs up to 150 feet, so put a crab on the line, head out to one of Key West’s famed shipwrecks, and wait for this aggressive fish to bite. With their huge weight and notoriously grumpy nature, you’ll want to use caution getting your catch into the boat.
Where to Stay Sunset Key Cottages
Blue Marlin [Naples]
This iconic game fish is instantly recognizable thanks to its sail, prominent sword-like snout, and gigantic size. A full-grown specimen can tip the scales at 2,000 pounds and a length of 15 feet, so you’ll need plenty of stamina, an outrigger and perhaps a fighting chair to actually land one, plus the marlin’s preferred live fish or squid bait. Motor a couple of miles offshore from Naples proper with a trusted guide, settle in for a long afternoon, and keep an eye out for that telltale sail poking out of the water.
Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel