You may have to run 75 or more miles out into the Gulf, employ special rigging and techniques, and spend all day staring at a solitary rod tip, but if you can win a battle with a swordfish you can claim one of the ultimate successes in the sportfishing world. And yes, you can catch a sword in broad daylight.
This broadbill swordfish was cranked up by hand from 1,200 feet down, in broad daylight.
Daytime fishing for swords is no easy task. You’ll need to be over deep-water structure between 1,000 and 1,500 feet deep, and since baits are generally fished around 100 feet off bottom, it takes some special effort to get a rig down there without tangles. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Use a eight to 10 pound sash weight, connected to the leader about 30 to 40 feet from the bait. Floss a loop onto the leader then use a longline clip and a dropper line of two feet of monofilament to attach the weight. Warning: when you reel the fish up a crewmember will have to stand ready to unclip the dropper line and weight from the leader. The floss loop can then be reeled right through the rod guides.
- Space the strobes equally up the leader (two is the norm) and attach them with copper wire (which will let the line slide through) so that when they hit the rod tip, you can reel the leader through.
- DO NOT simply drop this rig. Rather, put the boat into gear heading into the seas and idle it forward at about four mph. Let the leader out until it’s stretched back all the way, then drop 200 feet of line. Pause the drop for five seconds, then let out another 200 feet. Continue this pattern until you’ve deployed 1,000 feet of line.
- With 1,000 feet out and stretched back, spin the boat around 180 degrees and reduce to idle speed as you drive directly back towards the line. Drop additional line in 100 foot increments with five second pauses, until you’ve let out 100 feet less than the water depth. When the boat reaches the line and it’s nearly vertical, cock the bow so the rod and line will be on the windward side, and shift into neutral.
- When the line is sitting at or nearly completely vertical, drop until the weight hits bottom (at this point, it should be just a 100 foot drop). When it hits, crank back up 100 feet of line. Now, you’re sword fishing.
Once the bait’s in the zone, it becomes a waiting game for a sword fish. Be sure to watch that rod tip closely as sword bites are usually very subtle. And every five or 10 minutes drop out 100 feet or so and bounce the weight off the bottom, then crank 100 feet back in, to make sure you maintain the correct depth. Follow this process, and you have a decent shot at enjoying one of the ultimate fishing challenges on the face of the planet – and in broad daylight.