It wasn’t quite Ahab pursuing Moby Dick, but Capt. Paul Guidroz was a man on a mission last weekend, intent on catching up with a giant Warsaw grouper that had escaped him only days earlier out of Fourchon.
Guidroz, who captains for Tuna Time Charters, was pleasure fishing on a day off with friends last Saturday aboard a 33-foot Contender when the boat arrived back at the spot where he last crossed paths with the giant in about 200 feet of water.
“I had missed that fish, and I knew he was there,” said Guidroz, 22, of Larose. “He caught me up. I had a knot in the line that got caught in one of the rollers on the rod, and it ended up popping in the rod, so I ended up pulling the hook out of his mouth last week.”
Guidroz was on a fun overnight trip with friends, but the big grouper was what he was focused on.
“We had tuna fished all night, and I tuna fish five days a week, so I let them tuna fish,” he said. “So when we went to catch this fish, I knew where he was at and what he was eating.
“I told everybody, ‘I want to catch one fish, and this is the one I want to catch.’”
So Guidroz Carolina-rigged a 2-pound hardtail on a 16-aught Mustad circle hook with a 24-ounce cannonball sinker. He was fishing with a Shimano Tiagra 50 reel spooled with 250-pound PowerPro braid and a 300-pound leader on a Biscayne rod.
“Every bite is different. This one kind of sat with it for a while, and I let him get it down deep before I started pulling on him good,” Guidroz said. “He held it in his mouth for a while. He didn’t hit it all that hard.”
But when the fish finally realized it was hooked, Guidroz said that was when “all hell broke loose.”
“The first five minutes of the battle are really the most important to get him out of his hole — they live in holes and structure,” he said. “That was the hardest part — trying to get him out. It’s hard to explain unless you’re on the other end of the rod.
“It took everything I had to turn his head to come to the boat.”
The big fish bit at about noon, and the battle — which Guidroz fought standing up with a belt — lasted about 30 minutes, he said.
“Once I got him up a good ways, he eventually embolized,” Guidroz said. “He popped at about 75 feet down, and he finally bloated up and came to the surface.
“I was probably the most pumped up on the boat, but I knew what we had caught. To catch a grouper over 300 pounds in the Gulf is something —it doesn’t happen very often.”
The first order of business was getting the giant fish onboard and situated for the ride back to Fourchon.
“We had to take all the yellowfin out of the front fish box. Once we cleared the front, we threw him in there and threw all the yellowfin in the back hole,” he said. “We threw a little bit of ice on top of them, and we rolled in as fast as we could to try to get as much weight out of him as we could.”
After the 90-minute run to Chris Moran’s Marina in Port Fourchon, the grouper weighed-in at 341 pounds on certified scales. The fish measured 7 feet, 6 inches, with a 70-inch girth.
“I knew it was a big fish. I knew he was definitely over 300 pounds,” Guidroz said. “I was thinking he was going to be around 350, so I wasn’t that far off.
“I though I had a shot at the state record, but I came up shy by a couple of pounds.”
If certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, which oversees fish records in Louisiana, Guidroz’s grouper will be the new No. 3-ranked Warsaw in the state. The biggest Warsaw grouper on record was caught by J.J. Tabor in 2008 in South Timbalier Block 308, and weighed 359.1 pounds.
“We cleaned him up already, and I have the length and girth and everything so I’m probably going to get a replica mount of him,” Guidroz said. “I’m actually going to try to put him up in Moran’s Marina.”