Fisherman Catches Record-breaking 318lb Swordfish in Maryland After Two-hour Struggle

A fisherman has broken a two-week-old Maryland state record after catching a 318.5-pound swordfish during a competition.

Jake Bertonazzi, an angler from New Jersey, caught the fish on August 6, around 60 miles offshore from Ocean City, while participating in the White Marlin Open, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The catch broke the state swordfish record in the Atlantic Division. The DNR maintains state records for sport fish in four divisions—Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal, and Invasive.

An official from the White Marlin Open certified the weight of the 318.5-pound swordfish while a biologist from the Maryland DNR confirmed the catch.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, swordfish in the Atlantic can reach a maximum size of around 1,165 pounds. They are among the fastest predators in the ocean, capable of swimming at speeds of up to to 50 miles per hour.

Bertonazzi caught the swordfish just minutes before the end of the tournament by using squid as bait.

"We were having a slow week... not having anything," Bertonazzi said. "We had 15 minutes before the end of the tournament when it started taking [the bait.]"

After the fish took the bait, it took Bertonazzi nearly two hours to reel in his record catch, an experience he described as "mind-blowing."

The previous Maryland swordfish record for the Atlantic Division had only stood for two weeks before Bertonazzi broke it.

The previous record-holder was Annapolis Peter Schultz who caught a 301-pound swordfish around 50 miles offshore from Ocean City on July 23.

Like Bertonazzi, Schultz also made his catch during a competition—in this case the Fish Classic Tournament.

Schultz, who used dead eel as bait, reeled in the fish after an "epic" eight-hour struggle, with the help of his team, according to a statement from the DNR.

The angler praised his team describing the catch as a "fish of a lifetime."

"We put so much effort into this," Schultz said "Everyone had a crucial role."

The DNR said any anglers who think they have a record catch should download and fill out the state record application, and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325. The department recommends immersing the fish in ice water to preserve the weight until it can assessed by officials.

Any fish caught in privately-owned, fee-fishing waters are ineligible for state record consideration.

The department said the breaking of the state's swordfish record just two weeks after the previous record was set is reminiscent of 2019, when two record dolphinfish (mahi-mahi) were caught just a few weeks apart.

A swordfish sign
Stock image showing a swordfish sign. A fisherman caught a record-breaking 318lb swordfish in Maryland on August 6. iStock