How deep do you have to go to catch swordfish?

I’ve heard that sword fishing is excellent in South Florida – how deep do you have to get to catch them?

Reports suggest that swordfishing is certainly making a comeback in South Florida.  The 1970s and early ‘80s were largely considered to be the heyday of South Florida’s swordfishing activities.  In the 20+ years since, commercial longline fishing has obviously taken a heavy toll on the availability of swordfish, as evidenced by the declining average size of the swordfish that are caught.  There was a particular problem with longline bycatch below the minimum size.  At the urging of conservation groups, the waters along Florida’s entire East Coast was recently closed to longline fishing (not just for swordfish), an effort that is taking steps to restore the fishery.  Swordfish have been known to live for as long as 25 to 30 pounds and get to a weight of up to 1,200 pounds.  They are also famous for their fight and table quality.  Although most South Florida swordfish angling takes place in water that is between 1,000 to 1,500 feet deep, most of the bites ultimately come within the first 400 feet of surface.  Most fishermen seeking to snag a swordfish will go at least 30 miles from shore to try and reach the depths where the swordfish usually live.  In addition, it’s interesting to note that swordfish have seemed particularly drawn to places with good bottom structure, including peaks, canyons, steeples, and other various formations.  Many folks angling for swordfish will drop multiple lines at varying depths (400, 300, 200 feet levels, etc.).  It’s also important to remember to drop these lines separately to avoid tangling your lines. 

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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