JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jawaan Taylor knew he had hooked the biggest fish of his life when he almost got pulled off his feet.
Especially because the Jacksonville Jaguars right tackle is 6-feet-5, 325 pounds -- and his previous personal record was a 20-pound red snapper.
The Atlantic goliath grouper he had on his line on July 2 while fishing with BlacktipH Fishing off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, was significantly bigger than that. About 380 pounds heavier.
“Oh, man, it was crazy,” Taylor said. “I always grew up watching [BlacktipH] on YouTube, watching people catch them on TV and all that. It really did no justice watching them on YouTube compared to seeing it in person. When I saw it in person come to the surface, it was crazy.
“It was the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in my life. It was huge, man. It was a huge, just brown fish. Man, it was crazy. The reaction of everybody when we saw the fish, it was crazy.”
Taylor said his group was fishing a wreck -- areas of rough bottom, artificial reefs and shipwrecks -- roughly 2 miles offshore. Josh Jorgensen, the host of BlacktipH’s saltwater fishing show on YouTube, said the wreck was loaded with huge goliath grouper and a 400-pounder is pretty common.
It took Taylor roughly five minutes to get the fish to the boat -- being in only 30-40 feet of water helped -- and he admitted to being caught off guard at how powerful the fish would be.
“It went kind of behind the propellers towards the back of the boat,” Taylor said. “That’s where it was trying to run to. When the pole started bending back behind the boat, you have to use your weight to push down on the back of the boat and curl the pole up the same time. When I felt the fish lift me almost off my feet and I saw it towing the boat with eight grown men on it ... I’m like, 'A fish that strong can do that, it’s crazy.'"
Jorgensen said Taylor didn’t need any help, though.
“Toward the end, you could tell he was pretty gassed,” Jorgensen said. “But a fish that size would gas anybody.”
Taylor posted a video of his battle on his Twitter account and Instagram accounts, and they combined for nearly 362,000 views. Those numbers, plus the mountain of texts and direct messages he got, caught Taylor off guard.
“I wasn’t expecting as much buzz as it did get,” he said. “... I got a lot of crazy DMs, all type of things like that, tweets, people talking about the fish. I had even a person glue J.J. Watt’s head to the fish’s head.”
Jorgensen said the episode featuring Taylor will post on the BlacktipH YouTube channel closer to the start of the NFL season.