The past two weeks, the sailfishing has been extremely slow. There were a couple of days that we caught 4 or 5 fish per day, but for the most part it was limited to one or two a day and we even had a couple of days that we did not even see a sailfish. The lack of sailfish is definitely due to the mild winter we are having this year, which is similar to last year as well. The good thing is eventually the fish will have to come south and then it will be like last year when the floodgates were opened. It means a slower start to the season but finishes with a much stronger ending. Luckily a much-needed cold front came by on Friday and that coupled with blue water and strong north current resulted in a pretty good bite. The past couple of days we went 6 for 8 one day followed by 8 for 8 the next day. Eight sailfish in one day is pretty good and the average number per day should start increasing and get a lot more consistent. We have a few more fronts trailing this last cold front so the action will only get better. We also saw a better bite on other species like mahis, bonitas and kings with this last front, which is great news for those targeting some fish for the table. Another great table fish is cobia and the only day that I tried cobia fishing this week, we had very dirty water so we couldnít spot the rays on the bottom and the cobias with them.
I havenít talked about swordfishing in quite some time and probably havenít done a swordfish trip in over two months. Well that changed last week. I have a great customer, John, from Massachusetts that fishes with me every year and loves to target swordfish. John also seems to have great luck with swordfish but also seems to attract windy weather as well. There have been a number of years that we could not go to the sword grounds due to wind and stayed on the edge for other species, and there have also been a few years that we did manage to make it to the sword grounds, caught fish, but really had no business being out there.
This year the first day, the wind was howling so we stayed on the edge and had one of those slow days I had mentioned earlier. We never even saw a sailfish that day. The next day the weather calmed but was due to increase fast in the afternoon. We made it to the sword grounds rather quickly and made our first drop. After close to 45 minutes into the first drop, I was about to lift the bait to reset when we saw a small tap on the rod. After a few more taps and some teasing from our part, we get a solid hookup. The fish starts racing on the bottom, which is usually a very good indication that it is a good fish. After fighting on the bottom the fish starts racing to the top. Another very good indication that this was a good fish since only the big swords can lift the heavy lead straight up causing the line to go slack. As fast as we could reel the line was still slack. Every once in a while, the fish would slow down, the rod would load up again and then the fish would scream out some line. This erratic behavior is also a very good indication that we were dealing with a pretty big fish. We got the fish up towards the top, took off the lead and with the angler cranking, got the fish close enough for a dart shot. My mate got a great shot with the harpoon and it was game over. With all 4 of us pulling we got here on board and marveled at her size. It wasnít a 500-pound fish but was a solid 360 to 380 pounds of pure muscle and brawn. Yet another year that John comes down here and catches another 300 plus pound swordfish. We reset and again towards the end of the drift we get another bite and hook another swordfish. This fish did not seem as big, but gave us quite the tussle to get her in the boat. This swordfish was about 175 pounds. We made one more drop that didnít produce a bite, so as the wind was already increasing, we called it a day an hour or so early knowing that it was another great day in the Gulfstream. After a couple of more pictures, we quickly steaked out the two fish and had plenty of swordfish steaks for everyone including half the marina.
February should be a great month for sailfish as well as cobias, mahis and kings on the edge and when weather permits swordfish during the day. I have about 20 days booked in February already so that doesnít leave many openings and March is starting to fill in. Now is the time to schedule those trips and lets go catch some fish!
Capt. Dean Panos