Scientific Name
Xiphias gladius
Up to 4.5m
Up to 540kg
15 years

General Description

Broadbill Swordfish are a popular game fish known for its long, sword-like bill. In fact, their scientific name, from Ancient Greek and Latin, translates to ‘sword sword.’ Swordfish can live for 15 years, grow up to 4.5 metres in length and weigh up to 540kg. They are highly migratory and can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.


They can be a difficult fish to capture by putting up a good, hard fight and if caught, make for excellent eating.

Swordfish are usually found in depths of up to 550 metres, typically residing along the edge of the continental shelf, with deep-drop fishing the most common way to target a swordfish. While they are found feeding closer to the surface at night, in recent times, daytime fishing for swordfish has become more popular with keen anglers. As the baits are dropped to such deep depths, using lights to attract swordfish as part of the bait set up is a must-have for fishers. If practicing a catch and release approach, using a circle hook can improve the chances of post-release survival.

Where to Find

Targeting swordfish is growing in popularity across the south-east coast of Australia including Victoria and Tasmania. Recently, the East Gippsland coast has become a hot spot for swordfish with Australian records (official and unofficial) being smashed by experienced fishers. In particular, Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota have seen some giant catches ranging from 349kg to 436kg.

In April 2018, a huge 349-kilogram swordfish was caught off the East Gippsland coast near Lakes Entrance by Matthew Boyle, owner of Hot Shot Charters. It was reeled in after a five-hour long fight on a 37-kilogram line. It is currently waiting on approval from the Game Fishing Association Australia and may have smashed the Australian record. If approved, Matthew’s catch will beat the current record of 276-kilograms by 73-kilograms, which was also caught off Lakes Entrance.

Fishing Rules

In Victoria, swordfish carry a bag and possession limit of 1 and have no legal size limit.

Threats and Management Issues

Dr. Sean Tracey from the University of Tasmania and the Institute for Marine and Aquatic Studies, along with his research team and recreational fishers, is working on a research project to explore the post-capture survival of large pelagic fish species, including swordfish, through attaching satellite tags to the fish. These tags record data such as water temperature, depth and light intensity as well as the movements of the fish each day. If the fish survives, the tags can remain attached to the fish for up to 250 days before automatically detaching and floating to the surface to transmit the data to a satellite. The tag can also detect if the fish has died and will detach, float to the surface and transmit the recorded data. The final data captured from the tagging project will aid in developing responsible and sustainable recreational fishing practices while gaining further understanding on the species.

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