We have been swordfishing quite a bit from my last report. We had just a little bit of down time from Tropical Storm Ernesto, which pretty much passed through here with barely any wind or rain. The swordfishing has been good almost the entire time. It was better before the Tropical Storm passed. We have been successful on all our trips except the one last night that. We did have a fish on last night, but pulled the hook early in the fight. Most of the fish have been decent in size. Our biggest since the last report was 71” and very fat. From the girth length measurement it was about 180 pounds.
Today, I received a call that informed me that a swordfish that I tagged 4 years ago was recently recaptured. The fish I released was ~40 pounds and had a lower jaw fork length of 45 inches. It was recaptured in the same area but had grown to ~200 pounds and had a lower jaw fork length of 71”. That equates to growing about 40 pounds a year which is on track with what the scientist believe. Most importantly it demonstrates why this area needs to stay closed to longline fishing. That same fish, if it was caught by a long line vessel 4 years ago, would probably not have been released, but would have been tossed as by catch since it was too small. Because it was caught on rod and reel, it was successfully released. This data shows us that if small fish are handled properly, they can survive. This one fish was definitely old enough to breed. If it was a female it had probably bred a few times already, and if it was a male, it probably bred quite a few times. So the release of that one fish, hopefully has added a whole bunch more swordfish to our system. Something else this recapture illustrates is that either that fish stayed here for 4 years or swam off but came back to this area. Either scenario still establishes this as a prime area for swordfish, especially a nursery and breeding area for them.
We have one of the best swordfish fisheries right here in our own backyard, and I personally want to keep it that way. There’s nothing wrong keeping a fish or two, but every fish that is released helps. But at least the way we are fishing for them on recreational rod and reel, allows us the opportunity to release a swordfish if we please. It is hard to release a swordfish that has been hanging on longline gear all night. Let’s protect this fishery and if you plan on releasing a fish, stick a tag in it and let’s see what happens in the future.
Now is primetime for swordfish. The thunderstorms of the summer should be passing and the cold fronts of winter are here yet, so give me a call and lets go catch em!
Capt. Dean Panos