I?ll start off with the Islamorada Swordfish Tournament. The tournament was last weekend and we took the boat down on Thursday so we could pre-fish and scout the waters Thursday night and fish the tournament Friday and Saturday night. I had never fished the Keys for swordfish before and was a bit apprehensive as to whether we could find the fish. I spoke to a few other captains and anglers and some offered advice, but many were fishing the tournament as well and kept their spots well guarded. A week or so before the tournament I studied depth profile charts of the area and saw a spot I thought and hoped looked good. Thursday night we headed out to the area and within 20 minutes we hooked a swordfish and shortly thereafter we landed her. We set again and this time we caught a shark, which there are way too many in the Keys. We set again and caught another swordfish. It looked like we found a good area to fish in.
The next evening started the tournament and we caught 3 out of 5 swords that we hooked and we released all three (after taking pictures with the swordfish and that evenings T-shirt to show the tournament committee). We also caught a few sharks and a decent thresher shark in the 300 pound range. By the end of the night we were in 3rd place. The second night we started off with a swordfish that we pulled off while there was still sunlight out. Unfortunately we lost too many swords that night as we ended up 1 for 4 on the swords and at least 4 or 5 sharks. About ten minutes before lines out, we hooked up with another shark, but while we were fighting the shark, I looked up and saw the long rod bend slightly and then saw the electric light racing on the surface. We got tight and caught that fish which helped us keep our third place standing.
All in all it was a great tournament, which was run very well. The accommodations at the Cheeca Lodge were exceptional. Although I wanted to get first place, I was very pleased with third placed. After all, we may swordfish a lot, but we had never fished these waters before. I am looking forward to next year?s tournament. On that note, we also have the Miami Swordfish Tournament coming up in a little less than a month (Sept. 15-18th). We have the same people fishing this tournament, but if you are interested, I have plenty of other captains that would love to fish this event.
That?s it for now. Keep in mind that sailfish season will soon be approaching and I am already getting bookings for as far away as April. We also have plenty of sailfish tournaments this year and I am open for most of them.
Capt. Dean Panos