- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
The swordfish has a large dorsal fin, no pelvic fins, and is generally characterized by the fusion and prolongation of the bones of the upper jaw to form a sword-like beak that constitutes one-third of the total body length. The body is elongated and slightly compressed. Coloration of the swordfish is variable, including black, grayish blue, brown, metallic purple or bronze. The body is dark above and pale below with no distinguishing bars or spots. The adult swordfish lacks both teeth and scales. The lack of bars (or stripes) and scales helps distinguish the swordfish from the striped marlin and other marlin.
Swordfish occur worldwide in all tropical, subtropical and temperate waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, though their numbers and average size have decreased dramatically over the past 50 years. They prefer cooler waters in the northern and southern stretches of their range during warmer months and migrate toward tropical and subtropical waters in fall and winter.
Swordfish tend to concentrate along food-rich temperature fronts between cold and warm water masses, with migrations closely associated with surface temperatures between 75 and 84 F. There is some correlation between body size and the ability to tolerate cooler temperatures. While the larger fish may be found in areas where the surface temperature is as low as 50 F., and swordfish under 200 pounds are rarely found in water below 64 F. They are generally pelagic (roaming) fishes found in waters from 600 to 2,000 feet deep. The fish tend to swim alone or in small clusters of seven or less.
Spawning studies suggest that some female swordfish lay eggs during every month of the year, with the spawning peak in June and July when water temperatures range from 68 to 75 F. When spawning, the female swordfish prefer water cooler than that favored by males. The mature female produces tens of millions of eggs and fertilization is external. The eggs take 2.5 days to hatch.
The adult swordfish is an opportunistic feeder, preying primarily on squid but also other fish and crustaceans. The bill is often used to kill prey; the swordfish rises from beneath a school of fish, swinging the sword from side to side, then consuming the fish killed. Swordfish are primarily night feeders. They may either forage for smaller fish at the surface of the water or hunt larger prey at depths of 1,200 feet.
Once hooked, swordfish are strong and stubborn fighters with average encounters lasting more than four hours. Swordfish meat is both delicious and nutritious; factors that make them a profitable commercial species around the world and that have led to reduced numbers worldwide. About 55,000 tons of swordfish is landed annually, with the Pacific fisheries accounting for 40 percent of that total.
Anglers usually troll or drift natural baits such as squid, mackerel, mullet, herring and small tuna. Odds of success are typically better at night. Often, baits are staggered at various depths, with light sticks placed at least six feet above the baits to draw attention to them. Balloons and rubber bands are used to help indicate pickups. When fishing during daylight hours, anglers generally scan the water looking for the dorsal and tail fins that protrude above as the swordfish basks on the surface. Once spotted, the bait should be presented carefully and repeatedly.
Tackle used for swordfish ranges from 30-pound outfits for shallow water fishing to 130-pound tackle for deeper waters. Large lever-drag reels are most commonly used, and line capacity is crucial for handling long, deep runs.
- The Latin name of the swordfish, xiphius gladius, is translated to gladiator of the sea, a fitting description for a fish that is the subject of most epic angling battles.
- Swordfish are known for their free jumping, also called breaching. It is thought by some researchers to be an effort to dislodge pests.