Eddie and I arrived at my boat a little bit early. As we are loading our stuff, another boater comes up and asks if I had a lighter. I had one on the boat and I lent it to him. Then he comes back with the lighter, a rod with a broken top and a new tip guide in a package and asks if we had any experience replacing a guide. Well not only did we know how to change a guide, but we had the master rod builder himself on the boat. Eddie replaced the guide, Jimmy arrived and off we went. The day felt right and we had some good karma going with the rod repair.
We punched it out of the inlet. I had just put my new Mercury Verado 300’s on the boat and was enjoying the extra HP and better fuel efficiency. We got to the sword grounds and made a drop to the bottom. Within 1 minute of hitting bottom we hooked up and proceeded to fight our fish. After about 40 minutes we boated a swordfish that weighed 140 pounds. Eddie was in shock that we had one on the deck after only a short time. Jimmy and I were also ecstatic as our daytime streak was continuing as well. We made a few more drops and had bites, but failed to hook up.
Our next drop proved to be the drop that was just meant to be. After we reached bottom, we didn’t get a bite right away. Minutes passed and nothing. As with any fishing, you have to be patient but fully ready as well. The rod tip bounced a bit. We were getting a bite! We got tight on the fish and this fish fought right from the bite. She started coming up slow, fighting the whole way, until she reached about 800 feet in depth. At that point she started charging to the surface very fast. We couldn’t even keep up on the reel. With a lot of line still off the reel, we saw her huge bill break the surface. She was slashing the top of the water. She then settled down and popped her tail out of the water. By the size of the tail, you could tell it was a big fish. The swordfish then kept rose and you could see tail and her dorsal fin completely out of the water. She just sat there slowly moving on the top of the water. That was a “sick” sight as the distance between the tail and the dorsal was huge. I joked to Jimmy that maybe there were two fish there since there was so much distance between the two fins. She looked like a huge marlin just sitting on top of the water.
At that point I guess she decided it was time to play and she darted to the boat. She raced under the boat and at one point had our leader dangerously close to the motors. Jimmy jumped back and pushed the line away by hand. We had avoided disaster, but did we really. She then curled under the boat and popped out by the bow. The sight of that fish just under the boat and then turning sideways on us was incredible. We had a shot on the gaff, but she probably would have ripped our arms off. She dumped line straight down and now we had to fight her again. I got her up and had the leader in my hand and was bringing her up. At the top of the leader I felt two huge nicks in the leader and now I knew when she raced back to the motors, she had damaged the leader. At that point my heart sank as I doubted I would be able to put enough pressure on this fish without breaking the leader. I got her close enough to where Jimmy got a great dart shot with the Poon harpoon. With a dart in her, she was pissed and dumped 300 feet of line again. If the leader broke, I still wasn’t confident that we could haul her back in, because darts can pull, especially when you are pulling on a big fish. This fish was huge and probably the biggest swordfish I had ever seen, so having a dart in did slow down my anxiety a bit. We played see-saw for a little bit over an hour. After I had her on the leader for I think the 5th time, we slowly inched her up and planted a straight gaff in her. By this time she was done. Now came the task of lifting her on board. With some coordinated grunting and heaving we slid her onto the deck. I pulled so hard that the fish ended up landing on my leg. I felt a sick pain and I definitely thought I had snapped my lower leg. Without saying a word, I slid my leg out and was relieved when I didn’t see any bones sticking out. The true enormity of this animal was now phasing in. We quickly got the boat ready and raced back to Keystone Point Marina where I am docked. Putting a fish into the boat is easier than lifting one out, so I went to the front office and and told them I had a strange request. I asked them if they could have the forklift that lifts the boats out of the water, lift my fish off the boat. We got her off the boat and onto the dock. I was quite the sight!
After it was all said and done the fish weighed in at 510 pounds. The lower jaw fork length was a whopping 109 inches. Overall length was 159 inches. There is no doubt that this fish was big. She was a long fish, her stomach was empty and she had already expelled her roe (good thing for the future). When I called the NMFS to report my catch, they told me according to there table, if that fish was stocky it would have been 648 pounds. This was definitely a fish of a lifetime and something that hopefully every hardcore angler will get to experience.
For those that are interested I am now offering day/evening swordfish trips. How cool would that be to catch and see both techniques in one trip and to hopefully see a swordfish during the day or night!
Capt. Dean Panos