Swordfish in Florida: Gladiators of the Deep Sea
By Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish
Day or night, a swordfish is a great catch when you're fishing in Florida.
Once thought to bite only in the dark, Florida swordfish have proven themselves to be a formidable gamefish day or night. Known for its deep and rapid dives, a hooked swordfish puts up a spectacular fight.
Also prized for its meat—most often served as thick, grilled steaks—swordfish once faced the threat of overfishing through the use of long lining, but are now a fisheries management success story. Conservation efforts enacted in the late 1990s have yielded positive results and swordfish stock seems to be at or above the target level in many areas, though there is still some concern in areas like the Indian Ocean among others. For this reason, many people consider swordfish fishing recreational and often practice catch and release.
Known to live for nine years or longer, swordfish can grow up to 14 feet. The International Game Fish Association’s angling record for a swordfish is a 1,182-pound fish caught off Chile in 1953. Like many fish, females tend to outweigh males significantly, with male swordfish rarely exceeding 200 pounds.
Swordfish in Florida are not schooling fish and tend to feed at night as they rise to the surface or near-surface waters in search of smaller fish. Daytime sword fishing often involves dropping rigged or live baits straight to the ocean bottom where larger fish are known to range.
Regardless of when they’re caught, a hooked swordfish means an incredible fight. Known to dive so fast and furious when hooked that they’ve impaled themselves on the ocean floor, swordfish remain one of the most impressive gamefish around. It’s worth getting your lines ready to catch one of these “gladiators of the deep.