Protect Our Fishery
Report Date: September 30, 2006
Since my last report we have had a few day trips and a few evening swordfish trips. The daytime fishing has been tough, but we have managed to catch something on all of our trips. The bonitas have thinned out, and the small kings have moved in. The kings for the most part have been 5 to 15 pounds and occasionally you�ll get into a school of the real small ones that you end up pulling your hair out. These kings are undersized and are small enough that you have a hard time getting a hook in them, so instead you get a bunch of slashed baits. For the most part though we have been able to catch some of the bigger ones as well. When the kingfishing has been slow, we�ve been fishing some of the wrecks. The big AJ�s have been around, and they are always fun to do battle with. There have also been a few sailfish showing up and we have caught sailfish on two of my last 4 trips. That should be changing soon as we get farther into fall and closer to winter. This week, the wind is supposed to kick up out of the Northeast, and although a cold front won�t make it all the way down to South Florida, each front will start pushing the sailfish our way. The one fish that we always seem to count on is the dolphin, but we haven�t been seeing many of those lately.
We have gone swordfishing three times since the last report and happily we have caught fish on all our trips. Some of the fish have been on the small side and as I always said, the good thing about rod and reel swordfish, is you can release the small ones or for that matter the big ones too. I did hear of one big fish (426 pounds) caught in the past two weeks. That is definitely a nice fish and I am confident we are going to start seeing more and more of those soon. Our largest fish since my last report was 200 pounds.
On the topic if swordfish, last week there was a public meeting with the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) at the Broward County Library. The meeting was to discuss ways to increase the commercial catch of swordfish. As a member of the Southeast Swordfish Club and on their advisory panel, I was involved with preparing for that meeting. It was great to see a tremendous showing of recreational anglers at that meeting. I believe the message was clear and that was to protect this fishery by keeping the closed zones closed permanently and to continue to help the revitalization of this fishery. The Florida Straits is a critical area and a nursery area for swordfish, and we must all due our part to protect this great fishery. This meeting though put some things in perspective. We have this great fishery and hopefully we will see it get to the point that it was in the early and mid 1970�s when big swordfish (400 � 600 pounds) were common. On the other hand though, we can also see our fishery collapse if certain commercial interests are not kept out of here. My point is, we should enjoy this fishery to its fullest and do everything we can to protect it. If you haven�t caught a swordfish yet, or if you simply want to try for one that is bigger, now is the time to do it. Every time we go out, we should feel privileged to have this fishery in our own backyard. We simply do not know how long we can protect it, but from the showing of support we received last week, it will hopefully be for a very long time!
Capt. Dean Panos