In a tale that intertwines skill, dedication, and a touch of destiny, three anglers in California—Dillon Houston, Ezekiel Cruz, and Mason Karafa—achieved the remarkable feat of landing a California state record swordfish. The catch, made on October 27, surpassed the previous record by 68 pounds, weighing in at a colossal 520 pounds. The anglers attribute their success, in part, to the spirit of a fourth fisherman, Capt. Ron Ellis, who was lost at sea in February.
A Tribute to Capt. Ron Ellis
The anglers had spent the day fishing off San Diego at La Jolla Canyon without much success. As the sun began to set, they moved to 9 Mile Bank, closer to the coast, where Houston had previously befriended Capt. Ron Ellis. In memory of Ellis, the anglers toasted and dropped a squid-tipped hook nearly 2,000 feet into the depths. Within an hour, they hooked the record-breaking swordfish.
The swordfish, weighing 520 pounds, proved to be a formidable adversary, putting the anglers’ skills and equipment to the test. Using squid rigged on an 11/0 J-hook tied to a 5-foot, 300-pound bite leader, the group engaged in a 45-minute battle. Mason Karafa, a welder and son of a commercial sword fisherman, maintained control of the rod throughout the intense fight.
An Unbelievable Battle
The catch was not without its challenges. A broken gaff, line tangles, and the fish’s size presented obstacles. Despite a fierce struggle that included a blistering run and a near-spear to the boat’s motor, the anglers prevailed. The fish was finally secured into the boat after overcoming multiple hurdles.
Returning to shore presented another challenge—the need to find a scale large enough to weigh the swordfish. The certified weight was recorded at Chula Seafood on a scale that accommodated the fish’s impressive size. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife certified the record during Thanksgiving week. The catch was processed and divided among the anglers, ensuring that family and friends could share in the accomplishment.
Houston, Cruz, and Karafa credit Capt. Ron Ellis with a guiding hand in their success. They express a deep belief that Ellis played a role in helping them land the record-breaking swordfish. Despite his absence, the anglers feel his presence and influence on their journey, turning what could have been a challenging night into an extraordinary and memorable achievement.
While the California state record is an impressive feat, the caught swordfish is only about half the size of the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record, which dates back to 1953 and weighs 1,182 pounds. The anglers reflect on the extraordinary circumstances surrounding their catch, emphasizing the uniqueness and challenges that define the entire experience.
The record-breaking swordfish catch becomes not only a celebration of angling prowess but also a poignant tribute to a friend and mentor, creating a story that transcends the typical fishing tale.