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SWORDFISH (xiphias gladius)


Its scientific name is "xiphias gladius". The association of both words is surprising: “xiphias” (Greek) = sword and “gladius” (Latin) = two-edged sword. This last one gives all its importance to the main characteristic of its sword, being long and flat and may represent a third of its total length.

Swordfish distinguishes from other billfish in its long flat sword, in its high dorsal fin like a shark’s, and in its tail like a crescent moon, which enables it to scull, contrarily to marlins that swim with their body.

Its smooth scaleless (juvenile has scales) skin is brownish grey on the back, silver grey on the sides and whitish on the belly.

It can reach up to 450cm long. The IGFA record (in Chile) is 536,15kg on 07 May 1953.

As an adult, its speed can reach up to 60mph.

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You may find this pelagic fish in tropical and tempered ocean all over the world.

Its big eyes, perfectly adapted to night vision, enable it to evolve in the darkness of the depth (between 200 m and 600 m deep).

Its thermic tolerance makes it possible to live in waters which temperature varies from 18°C to 22°C during the day. Then it comes to the surface at night to chase.

This feeding behaviour with a night predominance explains why swordfish remains an exceptional and scarce catch.

Females lay about 5 millions eggs in free waters where they are fecundated by males sperm. Eggs are then, spread out by current.

Swordfish may reach its sexual maturity between 2 and 4 years old and its life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years old.

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Swordfish mainly feeds with pelagic fish, shellfish and calamari. Its bill enables it to protect itself and also to injure its preys. Weakened, they are all the easier to capture.

We shall fish it baiting:

  • Drifting at night (from surface to 400m deep with calamari or dead fish bellies knitted with glowing sticks).
  • Drifting in the high depths during the day with freshly dead bait lightened by glowing sticks.
  • Slow trolling at night with phosphorescent lures assembled with calamari strips and glowing sticks.
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  • Swordfish is very suspicious. Drag must be as light as possible because one must wait it swallows well the bait before hook up.
  • Contrarily to marlins, it makes round trips between surface and depths.
    • If it is hooked at the mouth commissure (the thing is how to know it…) the threat is to unhook easily because its chair is tender. Therefore, it is important to fight swordfish gently or let it swallow deeply the bait.
  • We only had one swordfish. Daniel Bodin caught this nice score (73kg) on 13 January 2007. He was fishing it for his very first time.
  • Why not you then? Just ask for it.

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