A swordfish is an elusive billfish that roams deep waters off of the entire east coast of the United States. They are sought after by anglers for both the game qualities and table fare. Heavy fishing gear and boats capable of making long runs are a necessity when targeting swordfish. What is a swordfish that can be caught off of the North Carolina coast?

How to Identify a Swordfish

Although they are similar in shape to that of a marlin or sailfish, the swordfish is an entirely different billfish type. Marlin and sailfish are most often at the top of the water column, while swordfish tend to lurk deep near the seafloor except for sunning themselves occasionally during the hours of sunlight. 

Both the eyes of a swordfish and the bill itself are huge. The sword-like bill is much broader and longer than those of a sailfish or marlin. The bottom half of the fish is white, while the top is brown. The body is vast, and the tail is forked, making a powerful fish when attempting to battle it to the surface. 

What is the Range of a Swordfish in North Carolina

The swordfish has a vast range. The swordfish can be caught as far north as Novia Scotia and down through South Florida. The population is very evenly distributed throughout the east coast Atlantic waters, but they all tend to be in deep waters well away from the shoreline. 

How Big do Swordfish Grow

The swordfish can go extremely large. They were subject to heavy commercial fishing for many years, which has decreased the average size of the swordfish. However, they are on the rebound. Today most of the swordfish caught average around fifty pounds. In the past, a typical swordfish weighed around two hundred pounds. Just because they average a lower weight today, they can still be found over 1,000 pounds. 

How do You Catch Swordfish

The first challenge is finding swordfish. They are most often in areas where the seafloor changes depths rapidly. Secondly, swordfish are found deep, expect to travel to waters more than 1,000 feet. Depths of over 1,000 feet can be over 100 miles from shore. 

During the nighttime hours, swordfish will venture closer to the surface to feed. Whole rigged squid is a bait of choice for most anglers. The baits can be set at various depths to find what area of the water column they are spending their time. Stout rods and reels are a necessity because of the power of the swordfish.

When fishing during the day, baits must be deployed down to the seafloor. The technique is the same, but the swordfish will be picking up baits from the bottom. Prepare for battles that can last for not minutes but hours. 

Are Swordfish Good to Eat

Swordfish, too many, are one of the best-tasting billfish found in the Atlantic waters. The fillets are sweet in taste and firm in texture. They can be filleted like any other fish or cut into steaks for grilling. 

Some of the more popular cooking methods besides grilled swordfish are broiled swordfish, blackened swordfish, baked swordfish, and more. The process of cooking swordfish is very similar to grilling a steak or burger. Make sure when cooking swordfish not to overcook it, or the meat will become dry. 

Swordfish Regulations in North Carolina

To harvest swordfish off North Carolina, the boat must possess a Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit. All billfish catches are to be reported to National Marine Fisheries Service within 24 hours of being caught. To obtain a permit, visit the NOAA Fisheries website. The cost is $26.00 and remember to renew it upon expiration. 

Is it worth fishing for Swordfish in North Carolina

For anglers who are not equipped with stout rods and reels spooled with 60-80 pound line weight and a boat capable of long runs, you’re best to hire a charter. The equipment will cost you more than a single offshore swordfish charter. Anglers who can’t commit to swordfishing regularly should not have any need to invest in the gear. The runs can be over 100 miles from shore, so factor in fuel cost on top. A lot of money can be dumped into a day of fishing with the possibility of no results. Hire a charter and see if it’s a good choice for you.