PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – Sea monsters exist. Just ask Jennifer Cameron.
On April 16, the Stuart, Florida angler caught the biggest swordfish of his fishing career, weighing in a giant that tipped the scales at 436 pounds.
Cameron fished with her husband, Captain Glenn Cameron, who owns Florida fishing charters moored at Sailfish Marina in Stuart, Florida, and companion Nick Cremasco.
Catching an almost quarter-ton brute like a swordfish is a challenge in itself. To do it while struggling with a temperature of 102 degrees is completely another thing.
“I didn’t feel so good that day, a day after receiving my second Moderna vaccination” for COVID-19, she told TCPalm | Treasure Coast Newspapers, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “But we had to catch a fish, so I left. After sailing I could feel my fever, I got into the cabin and wrapped in a blanket and slept on the boat ride to the marina.
Why did she need to catch a fish?
The reason they fished in the first place was because Cameron is one of the main organizers of the Black Gold Jubilee, an annual spring festival and charity fundraiser celebrated at Torry Island Campground in Belle Glade, Florida.
One aspect of the event is a fish fry. Cameron wanted to catch a fish big enough to feed dozens of participants, so targeting a swordfish would have served that purpose.
“Sometimes we are criticized for keeping such a big fish and not releasing it. But we literally provided around 300 pounds of nets to use for the fry and to provide clearings for families who needed fresh fish, ”she said. “We only kept a few small pieces for our family.”
She was also able to educate people about the difference between swordfish and marlin, a similar-looking fish whose harvest is strictly limited in US waters and which is not sold as food fish here.
How she almost lost the swordfish
Catching this sword almost did not happen, her husband said. The fish were apparently hooked to the dorsal fin – not the mouth.
“We were straight out of St. Lucie Inlet in 1,650 feet of water and using the bonito belly as bait,” he said. “On our first drift, we bit but the fish came off pretty quickly. So we stopped, ran south (updraft) and started our second drift. As soon as Nick put the lines back, I turned my head. and when I looked at the buoy it was gone. “
This told experienced fishermen two things: the fish was hungry and it was big.
A common method of catching swordfish is using a large buoy to keep the bait deployed well away from the boat and at a depth sufficient to attract the attention of a swordfish. They are known to inhabit the dark depths below where sunlight penetrates from the surface – at least 300 feet below.
To lower the bait so deep, Cameron used a 13-pound lead weight. He said the buoy had not resurfaced for a long time. After that, and they were able to disconnect the wire and retrieve it, the fish came to the surface and jumped.
“He buried the buoy for 20 minutes, telling me it was a really big fish. When he jumped I knew he weighed over 350 pounds, ”said Glenn. His wife spun the fish using a Lindgren-Pitman electric reel.
“Once we got ahead, the fish came down to 100 fathoms (600 feet), under the water of the Gulf Stream. After we got the fish back to the boat, it was time for Nick to harpoon the fish. Never done. that to a swordfish before, he did a great job and stoned him, ending the fight, ”said Glenn.
Then it was up to the captain and Cremasco to gaff the fish and haul it through the 60 foot tuna gate.
It was not Jennifer Cameron’s first swordfish.
She caught two in 2017, but the latest one got her thinking about suing the International Game Fish Association’s Conventional Billfish Royal Slam Club, which rewards anglers who catch these seven billfish, including two in two oceans:
- Black marlin
- White marlin
- Striped marlin
- Sailboat in the Atlantic and the Pacific
- Blue Marlin in the Atlantic and Pacific
Jennifer only needs to catch a black marlin and a striped marlin, her husband said.
Other Martin County residents who are members of the IGFA Royal Billfish Slam Club are Doug Blanchard of Stuart, Julie Crispin of Sewall’s Point, Floirda, and Bob Pelosi of Palm City, Florida.
It has been an eventful year for the Camerons. In June, the couple got scared when they hit a wave in Beaufort Inlet in Morehead City, North Carolina, while fishing in the Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament. The wave broke the pulpit up front, tearing the top of the hull. Fortunately, the boat never caught any water.
Still, Glenn must have spent about six weeks commuting between Stuart and North Carolina to oversee the repairs. They were able to complete the repair of the 60ft Carolina Custom Sport Fish in time to fish more tournaments in the mid-Atlantic states and competed in the Winter Treasure Coast Sailboat Tournament Series.
They plan to fish the Custom Boat Shootout and the new Walker’s Cay, invitation-only tournament, in the Bahamas next month, Jennifer said.
The fall swordfish bite can also be good, Glenn said, especially for large fish over 300 pounds, sometimes referred to as “markers” by commercial swordfish.
“We catch big swords all year round off Stuart, even though we don’t fish them all the time,” he said. “You can catch them here any month of the year.”
A concrete example? On the same day, Captain George Gozdz of Flatlined Charters at Jensen Beach and the host of the Unfathomed TV show on the Outdoors Channel also caught a very nice-sized 150-pound swordfish off Stuart.
Imagine that, fishing for swordfish in a place called “Sailboat Capital of the World”.
- Minimum size: 47 inches measured from lower jaw to fork length of tail
- Bag limit: One per fisherman per day, without exceeding a maximum of 4 per boat (not for hire) or 15 per boat for hire. No daily baggage and possession limit for the captain and crew of the for-hire vessels.
- Mandatory declaration: Any landed swordfish must be reported to NOAA within 24 hours at 800-894-5528.
- Permit required: A highly migratory species permit is required in federal waters.
- More information: For full state fishing regulations, visit MyFWC.com.
- Florida Record: 757.8 pounds, Bill Lussier, Islamorada, March 31, 2019
- Florida record pending: 767.8 lbs, Timmy Maddock, Pompano Beach, January 25, 2021
- World record: 1182 books, Louis Marron, Iquique, Chile, May 7, 1953
Follow Ed Killer on Twitter @tcpalmekiller.