Know Your Sportfish

Fin identification helps to correctly identify your catch. *Click to enlarge.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: MyFWC.com A great many kinds of fish are protected by conservation laws that may include licenses, daily bag limits, possession limits, minimum and maximum size limits, permitting and other legal requirements. Many different jurisdictions and agencies are involved in managing the fisheries—at least a half-dozen in Florida alone, to say nothing of other countries—and their regulations sometimes conflict.

In Florida, information is available from such sources as Florida Sportsman Magazine, county courthouses and many tackle shops. Visitors to Florida or the Islands usually are able to get the needed information from their travel agents, resorts, fishing camps or charter captains. Visit www.myfwc.com www.myfwc.com or www.floridasportsman.com for the most current fisheries regulations.



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The Swordfish, Xiphias gladius

A chunky and powerfully built fish with a high, crescent-shaped dorsal fin and broadly forked tail. The pectoral fins are also large and lunate. The distinguishing feature, however, is the huge bill or sword—much longer and wider than the bills of Marlins and Sailfish. Eye is also very large. Color is mostly dark brown to purple, whitish undersides.

SIZE: Historically, from 100 to more than 1,000 pounds; however, relentless and virtually unregulated commercial longline fishing has lowered the average to well under 50 pounds.World record 1,182 pounds; Florida record 612 pounds, 4 ounces.

FOOD VALUE: Among the very best, which is helping skid the species toward oblivion.

GAME QUALITIES: Not as wild or acrobatic as the Blue Marlin, but an equally powerful and rugged fighter that can get off some spectacular jumps on occasion.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Although big fish are now rare, Swordfish are hooked so seldom that anyone who fishes for them is advised to use at least 50-pound line, matched to good ocean tackle. The best Swordfish bait always has been a large, rigged natural squid, but rigged baitfishes can work. During the 1970s, many Swordfish topping 400 pounds were caught by sportsmen, who fished by choice on calm nights, mostly during the summer, but also during good weather in fall and winter, and generally deployed two or more baits at different depths. The majority of strikes came at 100 feet or deeper.



Broadbill Swordfish

Pez Espada 

RANGE: All deep ocean waters of Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

HABITAT: The deep sea.