South Florida Swordfishing

by Joseph McGivern - Date: 2006-12-22 - Word Count: 648 Share This!

The swordfish industry is a cyclical one, alternating between lean times and times of plenty. In the 1970's swordfish were abundant off the waters of South Florida. One could go to any one of the many popular docks in the area, early in the morning, and watch in awe as the different crews would unload literally hundreds of pounds of swordfish from their respective operations. Of course, word travels fast, and by the late 1970's the long liners had already made strategic moves into our waters. For the next decade the long liners, without being held in check by regulations, all but decimated the swordfish population off of South Florida. It took the point where the swordfish populations had dwindled down to drastically low numbers, for the government to finally enact legislation, forcing out the long liners, in hope that one day the swordfish population of South Florida would make a comeback.

I started swordfishing in 1995, with a couple of old timers off of Miami. The normal game plan consisted of running out about 18-miles and deploying a simple 4-rod spread. We had the ocean all to ourselves, sans a few cruise ships and tankers every now and then. As far as fishing pressure, it was almost nonexistent. We would use cylume light sticks, 100ft wind-on leaders, and 11/0 j-hooks rigged to dead squid. We would target the depths from approximately 100' to 400' deep. It took us a few years to really figure out what we were doing. Again, by 1999 the word had gotten out, and before too long the recreational anglers had figured out that they too could get in on the seemingly untapped swordfishery. The swordfish, a quarry previously considered a rare and exceptional catch to the average angler, had now become a very achievable catch, and one could expect to go out and at least get a bite. On any given night, you could go out and see 10 boats fishing the same area.

Soon enough swordfish tournaments started hitting the scene. At first there was only 1 swordfish tournament a year, but now there are over 6 tournaments a year out of South Florida, and then number is likely to grow. Two of the biggest tournaments are the Miami Swordfish tournament, and the Islamorada Swordfish tournament hosted by Capt. Rick Peoples from Miami. These tournaments bring out the best of the best from South Florida to showcase their swordfishing knowledge and skills.

Now in 2006, we are faced again with the commercial guys trying to come back into the waters of South Florida. The South East Swordfish Club (SESC) was started by a great group of guys, in order to educate the recreational fisherman, and to trade secrets and tactics on swordfishing. The main goal of the SESC now, is to fight the government in an effort to keep the longliners out of the waters of off South Florida. Skip Smith and Bobby Boyle, the founders of the SESC, are doing all they can to educate the public, and to get the proper backing to keep the long liners out. So far they have been doing an admirable job, with the help of many others, namely Ron Coddington, who has dedicated countless hours of his time, trying to inform us on what we need to do to help our fishery. Ron has flown to Washington D.C. on behalf of recreational fisherman to prove how much we love our fishery and how much we want to keep it.

Now it's our turn, as recreational fisherman, to do all that we can to save this important fishery. We all need to step up and voice our collective opinions, and keep this fishery viable. We are extremely fortunate to have this fishery right in our back yard, so let's not take this for granted, and keep up the hard work keeping this fishery around for generations to come!

Related Tags: fishing, south florida, swordfishing, sportfishing, saltwater fishing

Captain Joe McGivern is a licensed captain in South Florida. He specializes in light-tackle sportfishing and swordfishing trips. If you looking to catch some fish, or just looking to get out on the water call Capt Joe!

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