The fight was memorable, if short, and when the fish was gaffed and slithered into the cockpit, Rounick blew the siren loudly and persistently, in a kind of swordfisherman's victory call. That evening at the dock the fish was hung on the scales. It weighed 164 pounds, a mere minnow of a swordfish (the average western Atlantic rod-and-reel swordfish weighs closer to 300 pounds). To get it, Rounick had covered nearly 900 miles of ocean in three days, burned some 650 gallons of marine fuel and, he calculated, put a $1,500 dent in his bank account.
A Manhattan knitting company executive who favors dashing silk ascots and hot-orange sweaters, Rounick is a relative newcomer to swordfishing. He has been so lucky that he is regarded as something of an upstart, compared to the aristocrats of swordfishing, like Dr. Davis, who have never caught a fish in decades of trying. Last year in one historic day Rounick hooked seven broadbills and boated three of them. How unusual that is may be seen from the four-year records of the Cuttyhunk swordfish tournament, which is held every August. Working from 310 boats, 620 anglers have fished a total of 19 days, or 35,340 hours, and have caught only 33 swordfish.
And their expenditures came to around $2.5 million. "I average 60 days of swordfishing a year," Rounick said, "and I figure it costs me $500 a day. Conservatively."
Conservatively, that is $30,000 a year, which is a good deal to pay for catching swordfish—or, as in the case of Rounick's tournament competitors, for not catching any.