Johnny Morris and Bill Dance teamed up to catch four of the huge Florida fish Wes Johnson/News-Leader

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A visitor goes nose to nose with a 300-pound goliath grouper at WOW aquarium and museum.(Photo: Wes Johnson/News-Leader)Buy Photo

They’re a show-stopper kind of fish, these gentle giants that lurk behind the clear aquarium panels at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

Visitors love to go nose-to-nose with them as the big fish cruise slowly in a tank full of sharks. 

How these four barrel-sized goliath groupers got from the Florida depths all the way to Springfield, Missouri, is a story in itself.

It took a couple of veteran anglers to wrangle the fish up from the deep for the nearly 1,500-mile trip to Springfield.

You might have heard of them: Johnny Morris and Bill Dance.

“They’re a tussle,” said Morris, the Bass Pro Shops founder who opened the now famous aquarium and museum last September. “These fish can live to be 35 to 40 years old, so hopefully we’ll have them around for a long time.”

Dance is known to legions of bass anglers for his popular fishing TV show that’s been running for years. He and Morris teamed up to catch the four goliath groupers that are some of the biggest stars at the WOW aquarium.


“One of them was a little over 400 pounds, another was 300 and the two smaller ones were in the 150-pound range,” Dance said.   

How they caught them is documented in a two-part special on the Bill Dance Saltwater show on the Sportsman Channel. Part 1 airs at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, while Part 2 airs at 2 p.m. Jan. 16, 9 a.m. Jan. 19 and 1:30 a.m. Jan. 20. 

The anglers were using

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