Massive father and son boat, record setting swordfish

The North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries has certified a new state record after a father and son fishing duo landed the largest swordfish ever recorded in Tarheel State history. Angler Brandon Carney was captaining his boat over 1,300 feet of open water on Aug. 21 when his father, Cary Carney, hooked on the record sword while using an albacore belly for bait.

“It started like any other day,” Brandon Carney said Field & Flow. “We made our second drop about 10:30 a.m. and there she was. As soon as Dad pulled into it, I said, ‘I think we’ve got a big one.'” As it turns out, “big” was a bit of an understatement. His father’s swordfish would eventually tip the scales at 504 pounds, 8 ounces. Tape over 12.5 meters long.

But before the pair could weigh and measure the monster, the Carneys had to get it into their boat. “We had an electrical coil, but because [the fish] it was stripping so much line, it blew every fuse we had,” Carney said. “We took all the power out of it, and we were like, ‘Well, I think we’re putting this bad boy in.’

The electric failure actually allowed Cary Carney’s catch to qualify for the North Carolina state record, since fish caught on electric reels usually don’t make the books. And it made the battle with the giant much more interesting. The giant swordfish made regular bubble runs, sometimes descending to over 2,000 feet below the surface. During the course of the fight, Carney says the fish dragged his boat for 10 miles.

swordfish on board the boat
The 504-pound swordfish had to be hoisted aboard using a rope and the boat’s T-tower as a pulley system. Brandon Carney

After Cary finally wrestled the large bill into submission, the crew had to lift him onto the boat. To do this, they tied a rope to the cardboard of the sword and used the tip of the ship’s T as a pulley before throwing it on deck. “He came out and it was just over,” Carney said. “He didn’t try to slip us with his bill. He didn’t try to get away. He came out and it was just toast.”

Read further: State Record Red Hind caught off the coast of North Carolina

The fish beat the previous North Carolina state record, set in 1979, by a whopping 63 pounds. According to North Carolina Marine Fisheries, its fork length alone was 104 inches, while its girth was 53 inches. The fish was weighed on a certified scale at EJW Outdoors in Morehead City.

Father and son break North Carolina state record with massive 12.5-foot swordfish
The greatsword topped the previous record by more than 60 pounds. Brandon Carney

While Carney says he and his father were shocked by the sheer size of the swordfish after it finally surfaced, he was even more impressed by the number of meals the 504-pounder provided. “We didn’t waste any of the meat,” he said. “We had him on the ice. We weighed it and put it back on ice and then immediately cut it. I think 30 people is a conservative estimate of how many people we shared. All our neighbors and all our friends have eaten some of it. It’s extraordinary.”

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