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Swordfish Record Falls Twice in 2 Weeks in Maryland

At nearly 320 pounds, the latest state record was caught with technique that's gaining attention.

Swordfish Record Falls Twice in 2 Weeks in Maryland

Jacob Bertonazzi, second from left, stands with his record swordfish. (Photo by Gary Tyler, Maryland Department of Natural Resources)

Saltwater anglers in Maryland are proving the legitimacy of the old adage, "records are made to be broken."

In only two weeks, the state's open swordfish-fishing category has seen two record-holders and two fish over 300 pounds. And, with the reported increase in popularity for swordfish fishing, more records could come soon.

On July 23, Peter Schultz of Annapolis became Maryland's first swordfish record-holder, with a 301-pounder caught 50 miles offshore at Washington Canyon during the Big Fish Classic Tournament out of Ocean City.

That record was broken on Aug. 6 by New Jersey angler Jake Bertonazzi with a 318.5-pound catch during the White Marlin Open, also out of Ocean City. Bertonazzi's fish was caught around 60 miles offshore at Poor Man's Canyon.

Bertonazzi caught the record fish "deep dropping" a squid baited on a circle hook minutes before the tournament ended. It took nearly two hours to boat the brute. He called it a "mind-blowing experience," according to a news release.

"We were having a slow week … not having anything," Bertonazzi said. "We had 15 minutes before the end of the tournament when it started taking (the bait)."

The swordfish weight was officially certified by Alex Davis, weigh master for the White Marlin Open, at Harbour Island Marina. A state biologist confirmed the catch.

Maryland's swordfish record currently stands at 318.5 pounds. (Photo by Gary Tyler, Maryland Department of Natural Resources)

Swordfish Popularity

The agency says fishing for swordfish has gained popularity in recent years, especially via "deep dropping" bait, such as how both record-breakers fished.

Schultz's inaugural record swordfish bit a dead eel on a circle hook, and took eight exhausting hours to boat. "We put so much effort into this," Schulz said about his team. "Everyone had a crucial role."

The swordfish weight was officially certified by Dave Hedges of M.R. Ducks – Talbot Street Pier. A Maryland DNR biologist confirmed the catch.

It was the second time in three summers that saltwater fishing records in Maryland were broken twice in a short period of time. In 2019, two record dolphinfish (mahi-mahi) were caught three weeks apart.

Peter Schultz (second from left) and his team stand with Maryland's inaugural state record swordfish. (Photo courtesy Big Fish Classic)

Admittedly, the two record swordfish in Maryland were a far cry from world-record size (International Game Fish Association all-tackle record is 1,182 pounds), but you gotta start somewhere, right? 

Maryland maintains state records in four divisions: Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal, and Invasive. If you think you've caught a Maryland record, fill out the state record application and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325.

Tip: Keep the fish immersed in ice water to preserve its weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.

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