Swimming with Goliath

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

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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