A Big Broad For John
Sometimes I feel like social media sets me up for failure. People always see my good fish pictures, but don’t always realize how hard we worked to catch those fish. But the truth is, social media really helps my business, so I choose to do it, almost on a daily basis. Sure I catch a lot of great fish throughout the year, but I have plenty of tough days too. It is fishing after all.
In late July I had John and Robert from Texas out for two days of swordfishing. We fished the year before and managed two swordfish, but John only caught an oilfish. This time John was up first. John keeps a close eye on my catches on Facebook, and he knows the definition of swordfishing: hours of boredom staring at a rod tip, hoping the rod tip bounces.
The first day we ran out and sent a bait down early. We thought we saw a bite the first drift, but it never came back. The next drop we had a tangle, which was frustrating because I tangle very rarely. It was 11:00 am now and John asked me if I ate my lucky banana. We ran back south to reset, I ate the banana and threw the peel over, and told John that third time could be the charm!
We were drifting about 15 minutes and we saw a bite. The bite was very subtle; the tip only moved an inch. The fish didn’t take the bait first time, so we moved it a little. Seconds later the fish ate the bait and the rod loaded up. John asked if we thought it was a big fish and I said you really don’t know until you see it. Robert joked and said you probably have a 400 pounder on, and John chimed in that he’d be happy with an 80 pounder! I thought to myself that the chance of him catching a 400 pounder would be about as good as getting an oilfish, but then I remembered he did that the year before....
John worked the reel as the fish came up slowly for 15 minutes. But then all of a sudden the rod doubled over and the fish made a blistering run. The fish dumped 200 yards of line off the reel in a minute! I knew it was a big fish right then. The fish started heading inshore and the line scoped up quickly. She was headed to the surface. The weed has been a nuisance offshore this year many days. Giant patches and lines everywhere. Today was one of those days. When swordfishing weed gets up and down the line and makes it nearly impossible to see a bite, and then if you hook up it adds a lot of extra pressure to the line. After 30 minutes into the fight the fish made a move at the boat. She was about 50’ down and we could barely see her, but we couldn’t tell how big she was. She came at the boat multiple times, trying to get under it. I’ve seen it before so I was ready for it. They’re unpredictable fish. At this time the weed patches and weed lines were moving in all around us. The fish went down 100’ and stayed there for a while. It was interesting because every time a weed line would pass, she would try to stay in the shadow of it for as long as possible. After an hour she went down another 800’. We all knew we were going to have to pull on this big fish at some point, so we went up on the drag. It didn’t bother her; she did what she wanted the next 30 minutes. We were along for the ride it seemed like. She would rise up away from the boat, under weed patches, and then go back down. Another 30 minutes passed. I was so nervous I could hardly eat. We put more drag on her. We hit the two hour mark and finally started making some progress. We got her head turned and John helped the line on the reel. Fifteen minutes later we got the wind on leader. The fish was 50’ away, but we couldn’t budge her. She was paddling along. She was blue and silver, with a dark back.
At this point we figured the fish was hooked decent, so we added some more drag. Ten minutes later the fish was getting close to the surface. I made a quick move with the boat, John kept tight, and the fish popped up. Hunter got a perfect shot with the dart, and I ran down from the bridge to help put a gaff in the fish.
John was ecstatic, he couldn’t believe it. Neither could I. John’s first swordfish was well over 400 lbs! We all high fived each other, and then the three of them pulled the beast through the transom door as I recorded it. It was a true animal, with a short length of 98’’ and a 54’’ girth for the measurements. We took some pics and then headed for the barn. The fish fought like a gladiator, and that’s what she was. In the end it was a two and a half hour battle, but one that will never be forgotten.
When we hit the docks at Bud n’ Mary’s Marina a small crowd gathered ‘round to help unload the fish. We took her to the scale and she weighed in at 451.5 lbs! After a few more pics the filleting began. John and Robert each shipped back a bunch to Texas, we kept some to eat, and they brought some down to their friends in Key West.
We fished the next day as well, but Robert was up this day. We missed a swordfish bite just before lunch time, but then the next drop we hooked something big. I knew lightning probably wouldn’t strike twice though. After 30 minutes I had the feeling it was a big eye thresher shark, but in all honestly that’s more rare than a 400 lb swordfish. I really believed it was a thresher so we went to heavy drag early in the fight. After an hour and forty five minutes Charlie had a beautiful 300 lb big eye thresher shark on the leader. It wasn’t a swordfish, but it was still an amazing creature and Robert knew it was a rare catch. We took some pics and video, and then tagged the fish with a Gray Fish Tag. Hopefully someone will catch “Big R” one day and we’ll see where he wound up going. Needless to say I had a couple good days with exciting social media posts, and I know John and Robert will be back again next year.
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