Another Huge Swordfish Landed Off Florida Keys
Mystique crew reels in 683.8-pounder off Marathon
The crew of the Mystique poses with their huge swordfish. (Courtesy FlaKeys.com)
MARATHON, Fla. – Less than 10 days after a 520-pound swordfish was caught, an
even bigger broadbill has been reeled in off the Florida Keys.
Fishing on the Mystique, a 61-foot Viking owned by Katherine MacMillan,
Marathon captain Billy Rabito Jr. presided over the catch of a 683.8-pound
broadbill hooked some 30 miles to the south of Marathon Tuesday afternoon. The
approximate length and girth on the fish was 107 and 70 inches respectively,
He added that the length measurement was taken between the lower jaw and the
fork of the tail (normal for measuring fish) and that the overall length of the
broadbill including its bill and tail was much longer.
The fish bit a whole 5-pound bonito hooked to 80-pound braid, spooled on an
electric Shimano Tiagra reel. Mike Driskell, the boat's mate who lives on Little
Torch Key, manned the reel.
It was weighed on a scale, recently certified by the International Game Fish
Association and the State of Florida, according to Byron Goss, co-owner of Big
Time Bait & Tackle in Marathon, who witnessed the weigh-in at Key Colony
Beach Marina. About 150 spectators, who gathered for the weigh-in, were treated
to complimentary fresh swordfish steaks, Rabito said.
Rabito said it took about two hours to bring the big broadbill to the boat
and additional time to get the fish onboard through the boat's large transom
tuna door with the aid of an anchor windlass. Everyone on the boat, including
MacMillan, helped to get the swordfish into the cockpit.
"I feel blessed to have hooked that fish, keep it hooked and get it to the
boat," said Rabito, a second-generation Keys captain who has been fishing
professionally for the past 22 years. "Daytime fish can often come unhooked, so
it's the opportunity of a lifetime."
The fish was the second swordfish more than 500 pounds caught off the Florida
Keys within 10 days and is believed to be the largest ever caught in Keys waters
during daytime hours.
On Sunday, March 25, Caribsea Captain Kenny Spaulding, a third-generation
Keys charterboat captain, led angler Fred Beshara, 67, to a 520-pound broadbill
off Islamorada caught on a Daiwa Dendoh MP3000 electric power-assist reel.
"It shows that the big fish are here (off the Keys)," said veteran Keys
charterboat skipper Jim Sharpe.
The fish won't qualify for either a state or IGFA record because it was
caught on an electric reel. Thus a 612.75-pound broadbill caught off Key Largo
at night May 7, 1978, will continue to be the official state record, according
to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data.
Rabito said when he first saw the fish, he knew it was big and would weigh
more than 500 pounds, but didn't think it would approach 700 pounds.
"I've caught lots of swordfish, including many 300-pounders and I've been
waiting to get a big fish," he said.
Modern sportfishing techniques for daytime swordfishing were pioneered in the
Keys about 10 years ago by Islamorada sportfishing professionals Richard
Stanczyk, his brother Scott and Vic Gaspeny. Rabito lauded their efforts that
have created a whole new big game sportfishing opportunity for Keys-bound
"I tip my hat to all the guys who have pioneered this thing," Rabito said.
"It has paved the path for the younger guys and gives you great respect for
those that went out there, spent a lot of time and experimented."