No Show? Still Go!
There’s a reason charter boats take deposits, but every once in a while we give people the benefit of the doubt and let it slide.
Back in September, I had a trip booked, but the client forgot to leave a deposit the month prior when he was in town. He assured me he’d be there and, knowing that he fished with my neighbor, I assumed it would be fine to hold the day for him. Well, the day before the charter, I messaged him without a response. I didn’t have a good feeling about it, but I showed up in the morning and loaded the boat like I do every day I have a trip booked.
With final preparations underway, I called and messaged him again, but received no answer. Finally, a couple hours later, he got back to me and said he didn’t think we were going because he didn’t leave a deposit. At that point, I took a screen shot of the messages from the month prior and said it had looked pretty clear to me that we were planning on this day with he and his three friends. He then told me he thought the fishing would be better later in the year and he wanted to reschedule. Needless to say, I didn’t write back because I was already out of a day’s pay and had wasted enough of my time.
My friend, Charlie, was down from Miami for the day and was going to ride along to help out. He tried talking me into taking him out and finally, a little before lunch, I said we’d go make a few swordfish drops.
We made our first drop at lunch time, but no bites. We ate some fried chicken, told a few stories, and made our second drop. After drifting another hour without a bite, I was getting ready to bring the bait up and the rod loaded up. The tip dug towards the water and drag started creeping off. Charlie got on the reel and we were hooked up!
The fish stayed deep for the first ten minutes and took a decent amount of line. I told him it was either a big swordfish or a thresher shark. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the line went slack and the fish was raced to the surface! Only a swordfish would make a move like that.
After forty minutes, we got the weight off and got a glimpse of the fish. I knew it was a nice one and estimated it somewhere between 200–300 lbs. The next forty-five minutes were a tug of war, with the fish coming up and going back down five hundred feet multiple times.
The fish eventually began to tire and started circling the boat. We loaded the harpoon and had the gaffs ready. Charlie was on the rod and I was on the wheel.
After the fish made a handful of circles, she came in towards the boat and I stuck the harpoon in her. Next, we put a couple gaffs into the beast. Fortunately, the fish was tired out and didn’t fight much boat-side.
This was no 200 pounder. No 300 pounder either. I had been waiting to catch a fish I needed my block and tackle to pull aboard, and this was the time. We hooked the pulley on the tower and put a tail rope on the fish. Both of us got on the rope, started pulling her up, and the fish was in the boat in no time! It was a true beast and had a short length of 96 inches! We took a few pics and then headed back to Bud n’ Mary’s Marina to get a weight. She weighed in at 411 lbs and was a pumpkin too! The meat was orange and I knew it would be delicious.
I was really glad Charlie talked me into going out there, as a fish this size is one you remember forever. I didn’t have the heart to tell the “no show” what he missed out on, but I bet he was kicking himself when he saw the pictures on Instagram!
Capt. Nick Stanczyk
Capt. Nick Stanczyk operates a 37’ Freeman center console out of Bud n Mary’s Marina in Islamorada. He can be reached online at budnmarys.com, floridakeysswordfishing.com or 305-481-0366
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