This week, Fred Beshara, 67, of Youngstown, Ohio, caught the fish of a lifetime. Caribsea Captain Kenny Spaulding, out of Islamorada, put Beshara on the fish, which will be remembered as one of the most impressive catches in the annals of Keys' fishing history.
Beshara caught the fish on 80-pound-test tackle with a Daiwa Dendoh MP3000 electric power-assist reel. Crewmembers on the boat were mates Conan Yates, William Bassett and Spaulding's 12-year-old son, K.C., who caught much of the battle on video (be warned – in all the excitement, there is some profanity).
The fish hit in broad daylight on the bottom in 1,850 feet.
Thanks to conservation measures, the species has rebounded over the past decade. As it did, anglers began targeting them at night, when they rise toward the surface to feed. But pioneers including the Stanczyk clan that own Bud N' Mary's marina and Jim Sharpe figured out how to catch them during the day when they remain mostly at such great depths.
The fish caught during daylight hours are typically much larger, but this fish is the largest one that anyone has heard of caught during daylight hours. The state record has stood since 1978, when Stephen Sanford caught a 612.75 pounder at night off Key Largo.
"After having my kids, this is the second best thing in my life that has ever happened to me," Beshara said. "I was so excited; I couldn't eat and couldn't sleep afterwards."
Folks, I caught one half that size with the Stanczyk clan a few years ago, and will never forget that experience as long as I live. You owe it to yourself to try "daytime swordin'" in the Keys. These captains have it wired. Your odds at success are high.