Fishing for Swordfish in Broad Daylight

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Broadbill swordfish in broad daylight? Youbetcha.

Few anglers ever get to go after swordfish, even in they have a boat capable of making those long runs far out into the ocean where these billfish live. Why? Because historically most have been caught at night, when the swords rise up from the deep to feed on migrating squid that have moved up close to the surface. Modern daytime swordfishing techniques have, however, completely changed this game. You’d like to take a run at a sword? All you’ll need to do is run out to 1,000 to 1,500 or so feet of water, preferably where there’s a sharp drop or pinnacle to serve as structure. Drop your rig (rigged squid, eels, and large baitfish all work) down to bottom, bring it up 100 feet, and carefully watch your rod tip for a bite. When one comes reel as quickly as possible (electric reels have a huge advantage, in this regard) to set the hook. It is NOT, of course, nearly as easy as we’re making it sound here.


Broadbill swordfish in broad daylight? Youbetcha.

The big trick comes in getting your bait that far down—without becoming tangled—in the first place. Try attaching a weight and dropping it straight down from a drifting boat and you’ll have a guaranteed mess. Instead, follow this procedure:

  • Rig up a 10-pound sash weight to two feet of 500-pound line, crimpled to a longline hook. Also wind two pieces of floss to your line 100 feet up from the bait (where the longline clip will grab the line; the floss will prevent it from sliding).
  • Toss your bait over the side as the boat idles into the current, and let out 100 feet of line.
  • At 100 feet, clip on the weight line. Continue idling the boat forward as you let out another 200 feet of line. Engage the drag to stop line from going out, and hold it steady for a minute. Then let out another 200 feet. Continue, until you have out 100 feet less line than the depth.
  • With all that line strung out behind you, pull a 180-degree turn and idle back up alongside the line towards the initial drop-point. When the line is nearly vertical, shift into neutral as you spin the wheel so the boat comes beam to the sea.
  • Let out the remaining 100 feet until the weight hits bottom. Then crank 100 feet back in. You’re now locked and loaded.

One final note: if it seems like you missed a hit, keep bringing that line up. Quite often a sword will allow itself to be brought up to the surface without putting up much resistance at all. But when you get to 100 feet and stop reeling so you can pull off the longline clip and weight, watch out. This is usually when the fish decides to go crazy, and with an angry swordfish on the line you’re in for a knock-down, drag-out fight.


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