Another Huge Swordfish Landed Off Florida Keys

The crew of the Mystique poses with their huge swordfish. (Courtesy

Mystique crew reels in 683.8-pounder off Marathon

MARATHON, Fla. – Less than 10 days after a 520-pound swordfish was caught, aneven 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-poundbroadbill hooked some 30 miles to the south of Marathon Tuesday afternoon. Theapproximate length and girth on the fish was 107 and 70 inches respectively,Rabito said.

He added that the length measurement was taken between the lower jaw and thefork of the tail (normal for measuring fish) and that the overall length of thebroadbill including its bill and tail was much longer.

The fish bit a whole 5-pound bonito hooked to 80-pound braid, spooled on anelectric Shimano Tiagra reel. Mike Driskell, the boat's mate who lives on LittleTorch Key, manned the reel.

It was weighed on a scale, recently certified by the International Game FishAssociation and the State of Florida, according to Byron Goss, co-owner of BigTime Bait & Tackle in Marathon, who witnessed the weigh-in at Key ColonyBeach Marina. About 150 spectators, who gathered for the weigh-in, were treatedto complimentary fresh swordfish steaks, Rabito said.

Rabito said it took about two hours to bring the big broadbill to the boatand additional time to get the fish onboard through the boat's large transomtuna door with the aid of an anchor windlass. Everyone on the boat, includingMacMillan, helped to get the swordfish into the cockpit.

"I feel blessed to have hooked that fish, keep it hooked and get it to theboat," said Rabito, a second-generation Keys captain who has been fishingprofessionally for the past 22 years. "Daytime fish can often come unhooked, soit's the opportunity of a lifetime."

The fish was the second swordfish more than 500 pounds caught off the FloridaKeys within 10 days and is believed to be the largest ever caught in Keys watersduring daytime hours.

On Sunday, March 25, Caribsea Captain Kenny Spaulding, a third-generationKeys charterboat captain, led angler Fred Beshara, 67, to a 520-pound broadbilloff Islamorada caught on a Daiwa Dendoh MP3000 electric power-assist reel.

"It shows that the big fish are here (off the Keys)," said veteran Keyscharterboat skipper Jim Sharpe.

The fish won't qualify for either a state or IGFA record because it wascaught on an electric reel. Thus a 612.75-pound broadbill caught off Key Largoat night May 7, 1978, will continue to be the official state record, accordingto the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data.

Rabito said when he first saw the fish, he knew it was big and would weighmore 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 beenwaiting to get a big fish," he said.

Modern sportfishing techniques for daytime swordfishing were pioneered in theKeys about 10 years ago by Islamorada sportfishing professionals RichardStanczyk, his brother Scott and Vic Gaspeny. Rabito lauded their efforts thathave created a whole new big game sportfishing opportunity for Keys-boundanglers.

"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 forthose that went out there, spent a lot of time and experimented."

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