A 446-pound swordfish, caught on September 1, 2012 by Joseph T. Harris, of Virginia Beach, VA, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Harris’ catch surpassed the existing record of 381-1/2 pounds, caught over 30 years earlier, by James Alexander of Virginia Beach.
Harris made his record-setting catch off Virginia Beach and south of the Norfolk Canyon, while fishing with Captain Justin Wilson aboard the Lynnhaven Inlet based 34-foot charter vessel Just Right. The huge swordfish hit a drifted whole squid. Harris was using a custom built 50-pound class stand-up rod mated to a Shimano TLD 50 reel and loaded with 50-pound test Ande monofilament line. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament State Record Committee member Ken Neill, III, of Seaford, verified weight, length, and girth measurements and positively identified the swordfish, in accordance with the Tournament’s State Record procedures, and completed the State Record Application.
The crew consisted of a group of friends and did not depart Lynnhaven until nearly 8 PM and began deploying deep baits for swordfish about 11 PM. The first strike came shortly but the catch was an estimated 10-foot tiger shark and was released. Next was a 46-inch swordfish pup that was released by the youngest member of the crew. The record setting fish hit about 2:30 AM and came to the boat quickly, as the crew was able to actually touch the leader in about ten minutes after the initial hook-up. The fish then sounded and the next 2-1/2 hours produced a see-saw battle. Once the fish was finally at boat side, and the group fully appreciated the size of their prize, several gaffs were deployed to insure the swordfish could be controlled and pulled through the tuna door.
The group had planned to take advantage of the red hot white marlin bite and troll at daybreak, but with the 12-1/2 foot long swordfish occupying nearly the 34-foot boat’s entire cockpit, they elected to return once all the gear was stowed away.
Inside Rudee Inlet at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center the swordfish would weigh an incredible 446 pounds and boast a lower jaw fork length of 98 inches with an overall length of 152 ½ inches. The prior state record of 381 1/2 pounds was caught off Virginia Beach at the Norfolk Canyon, by James Alexander of Virginia Beach on October 11, 1978.
–– Source: Dr. Ken Neill, III