Daytime swordfishing. If you have fished for swords, I could stop right there and you would understand the title to this article, but, for everybody else, I’ve got a story.
Many years ago, I met up with a gentleman (Paul) on Cudjoe Key looking for a nighttime sword charter. He was well versed in the billfish game and had caught them all, with the exception of a broadbill. Well, we happened to land a few swords at night all by ourselves back then on fairly light stand-up gear. Paul missed a few years coming down, but we stayed in touch with one another.
Fortunately, this year, he was able to come down and both of us decided we liked our sleep too much to fish at night and he wanted to try out this daytime fishing for swords. We set a date and I lined up an extra hand to go with us (Captain Julien). The weather played nice and we made it out pretty quickly to the grounds.
Wouldn’t you know it? On the first drop, Paul hooked up and caught a beautiful 55-inch fish. I was ecstatic to have dinner in the bag that quick! It was so early we decided to give it another go, but a group of birds got my attention and we chased them down and put a handful of mahi in the icebox.
Then, it was back to business. We crimped on a fresh dolphin belly and fired it down, but....it didn’t make it down. As we were watching, the angle decease, the rod slacked off way before it hit bottom in 1750 feet. We were on! As Paul collected line, he never got tight on the fish and she came up throwing white water off our bow.
Everything was still cool until we got close to the windon leader. As we were working to get the 10-pound lead off, tragedy struck. Capt. Julien told me we had a huge knot. I left the helm to have a look and, yep, this knot was huge. My guess was that as the fish raced to the surface, the dropper line attached to the weight and wrapped up the slack braid. At this point, I was guessing this was a 100-pound fish or so...but, wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Normally, I have a 50-wide loaded with braid on the boat, but it was in the shop getting worked on and the next biggest reel I had on the boat was my mahi setup--a little Marquesses MA30 loaded with 50-pound braid and a top shot of 50-pound high-vis mono.
I decided to grab one and, luckily, the sword was just holding position off the bow. It felt so wrong, but, out of options, I cut the 250-pound windon leader and tied (the world’s fastest) Albright knot onto the 50-pound high-vis mono top shot on the little rig. At the time, I thought we were good--I literally just cut the line on a swordfish (new deal for me) and we were now tight and hand cranking. Well, the fish played nice and, although it doesn’t sound like it, went down to about 200 ft. and stayed there for about 45 minutes.
At this point, I had started to wonder just exactly how big she might be.
On cue, she shot up and completely aired it out 30 ft. from the boat. I almost swallowed my tongue. She was huge! I won’t guess to weight, but she was one of the top two biggest swords I’d ever seen in person. I thought to myself that we would be in trouble if she decided to go down there. There wouldn’t be anything we could do as the little reel only had about 1000 ft. of line on it and we were in 1800 ft. of water.
To condense this a bit, we hooked up at 1 pm and transferred over to the small reel at 1:30 pm. We covered 17 miles with all of us taking turns on the reel and she jumped 9 times. We had the wind-on leader on the reel at least 15 times, which was a huge problem. Because of the size of the 250 pound mono, we could only get about 10 wraps before it would fill up the little reel and Julien would have to leader the fish by hand for about 100 feet, which the fish would have nothing to do with.
Around 8 pm tragedy struck again and the rod broke. Fortunately, the line did not and, in a desperate attempt to keep her attached to us, I tried to tie a uni-to-uni knot between the braids back onto the electric--in the dark. As I was thinking about how this would be a great story explaining how I lost a couple fingers, she started moving away from the boat. We tried to get the unfinished knot a few turns onto the reel, but it just wasn’t meant to be...
As we made the long ride home, I tried to console my friend, Paul, that we had one in the bag, but my heart was broken and I’m pretty sure his was too. As soon as we pulled up to the dock, Paul said, “We are going again tomorrow”...to be continued.
Comments will be approved before showing up.