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April 04, 2012

Biggest Swordfish Yet Stuns Florida Keys

Are the Florida Keys poised to produce a grander swordfish?

Incredibly, just over a week after a broadbill weighing 520 pounds and unprecedented for the Keys was brought to the dock, on Tuesday (April 3), that record was shattered by a stunning 683-pounder!

Marathon captain Billy Rabito Jr. dropped a whole, 5-pound little tunny from the 61-foot Viking Mystique into the depths some 30 miles south of Marathon. Using 80-pound braid on an electric Shimano Tiagra, Mike Driskell — the boat’s mate who lives on Little Torch Key — fought the monster for about two hours.

Everyone aboard sweated out the battle. “Daytime swordfish can often come unhooked, so it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Rabito.

The fish was weighed on a certified, IGFA-accepted scale, but won’t be an official Keys record because it was caught on an electric reel.

This may well be further evidence that good fisheries management can protect fish stocks and allow them to prosper. (Much of the waters off the Southeast have been closed for many years to longlining.)

Whatever the reason, it certainly seems to be evidence that “the big (sword)fish are here,” in the words of veteran Keys charterboat skipper Jim Sharpe.