Took a trip to the Florida Keys and chartered a boat for two days out of Islamorada strictly for swordfish. Sword fishing is unique in that we were fishing 30 ft off the bottom in 1800 feet of water. Electric reels, 12 or 14 lb weights and lights attached to the leader. Two, ten hour fishing days. Boring as heck. My daughter asked me what it was like and I sent her the picture below and told her to stare at that rod tip for two hours and you will START to understand
You stare at that tip, watching for the most subtle of bites. 1800 ft deep with a 12 lb wt does not allow for any really noticeable action. We fish with a plastic skirt on prepared baits - squid, barracuda, or mahi. The mate meticulously prepared the bait. Not a bite the first ten hour day. Second day, we were down to the wire. Had two rods out and capt told mate to reel up, and when that rod was in, I was to reel up and were were to head in. Mate got the first rod in and I was waiting for the word to reel up when I thought I saw the tip dip SLIGHTLY. Both capt and mate hollered “bite, bite, bite - drop back”. I had been instructed if a fish bit, to freespool the reel and let weight drop to bottom, weight five seconds for fish to hopefully eat, and engage reel.
I was a little bothered by the ethics of using an electric reel to winch a fish up while I sat there and drank beer. It was an ill conceived notion. When the rod came tight, it bent over and reel just hummed and spool did not turn. The electric motor is not strong enough to winch them up. The electric reel is needed because of the depth we were fishing. Even with that reel, it took five minutes to reel in to check bait or move. Would have taken 15 minutes to reel up with the crank.
Fish just sat there. I wasnt sure it was hung in bottom. Capt instructed me to pull in line with one hand as the boat rolled in the waves. When boat went down in the trough, it released some tension on the fish and I could pull in a foot or so of line which the reel would then take up. After a while of this, fish was finally up five hundred feet off the bottom and started fighting a little and reel could take in some line. Reel was so hot I could barely touch it. Capt was yelling instructions and reel was very foreign to me because of not using the crank. I turned the engage knob the wrong way a number of times.
The fish got up near the surface and the instructions were coming fast and furious. Had me a little confused working the reel. Fish was running on surface now, and the weight was clipped on the line 40 ft from hook. The clip had to be taken off line to allow line to come in through rod tip. Fish charged the boat, capt hollering at mate to let go, hollering at me to engage reel. Mate got the clip undone, liwent slack, and when reel caught up, fish still on. Then it happened all over again when first light got to rod tip.
After the first light was removed, fish dove straight under boat and mate picked up harpoon and placed a perfect shot on a fish 25 ft deep. Made those guys on Wicked Tuna look like amateurs. We got the fish up to boat side, and fish is going crazy - as is capt hollering “get the gaff, get a gaff in him”. My buddy, who had never had a gaff in his hand, made a perfect shot right through the eyes. He pulled fish up on gunwale and fish whipping sword from side to side. Capt yelling get back - and buddy looses fish off gaff. Fish teeters on gunwale for what seemed like ten seconds, half over water and half over boat and finally falls - into boat. Buddy had a couple of cuts on shins. Big game fishing is often described as hours of boredom interrupted by minutes of pandemonium. We saw both. About a 90/100 lb fish.
I have never intentionally killed a bill fish - but intended to eat this one as grilled swordfish is prime food. Me on right
There are nine billfish species in the world. The sword makes eight for me, along with a white marlin, atlantic sailfish, atlantic blue marlin, striped marlin, pacific sailfish, pacific blue marlin and black marlin. The white was the smallest at 60 lbs and the black the largest. Catching all nine species is a Royal Slam. Less than 200 people worldwide have registered a world slam. I lack a shortbilled spearfish. I had not intended to pursue that species - since my catches have not all been registered - I started this journey back in 1975. But, when I sent the picture to my daughter, she told me she was going to start working on getting me a spearfish - and Kona, Hawaii is the best place for catching this rare fish. Looks like I will be headed there in a year or two, if God willing.