Game

Fencing With A Tackle Box: The Swordfish

April 20, 2015
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©istockphoto/LUNAMARINA

©istockphoto/LUNAMARINA

Swordfish; the fencing fish that live in the world’s nutrient-rich, cool waters. While, yes, they may mirror sailfish in appearance, they’re uniquely well, unique—and belong to an ancient order of fish. Like other billfish, they’re gargantuan in size. Put on your fencing mask, grab your tackle box, and spar with an oceanic adversary worthy of such a name.

From Sea to Sea—In Solitary Company
Swordfish are transient, migratory animals, occupying the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. They live out their days in the upper-water column and their nights hunting in moon-lit darkness. However, unlike their sailfish ilk, swordfish are unusually solitary in their day-to-day habits; they may find themselves in loose aggregations of neighboring company, solely out of coincidence.

Grow Fast, Die Young
Like most billfish, swordfish are conceived by an egg-bearing female releasing her brood into the close vicinity of a male during the warmer months of the year. Upon releasing her eggs, the male will then ejaculate his seminal fluid alongside the soon-to-be fertilized eggs. Once fertile, the eggs will develop into larvae that, again, mirror that of sailfish; they’re miniscule and almost unbelievably alien in appearance to their parents. If the young swordfish beat the predatory odds and survive to the ripe, old age of five or six, it will be able to spawn its own offspring. And, toward their senior years at twelve or so years old and at lengths of over ten-feet, they’ll begin to succumb to old age.

Sunbathing For Success
One behavioral quirk worth noting is the swordfishes’ likelihood to be found floating at the water’s surface—not dead, but merely warming-up. Swordfish are active predators, often exceeding short bursts of fifty-miles-per-hour during their pursuit of barracuda and other prey fish. And, much like our automobiles, they need to be thoroughly heated to operate properly and efficiently. But, unlike the drivers gripping the steering wheel, swordfish aren’t endotherms (warm-blooded organism, able to maintain thermal homeostasis through their own metabolic functions), they’re ectotherms. Those fish basking under a still current aren’t winding-down—they’re gearing-up.

Fencing With A Finned Foe
Angling for swordfish is far from a lethargic endeavor. If anything at all, it’s one of the most tedious, endurance-pushing odysseys to be taken in the sport fishing world. Because of their diurnal tendencies to lurk in the deep, dark depths of ocean, deep-drop fishing is the hobby norm. Baited with mackerel and like-sized fish, sunk with a near five-pound sinker, the line will dance at depths of nearly two-thousand feet; glow sticks are even utilized by some angler to entice light-inclined swordfish.

Once hooked, the struggle to follow could be taken straight from a Greek fable. Two-, three-, even four-hours clinging to the end of a tense real, again, isn’t for the weak minded—or physically inept, for that matter. But, should one be able to draw a victory from the oceanic tug-of-war, they will be awarded with a prized fish; the fencing match is drawn to a close.

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