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End of March and Early April 2015 Daytime Swordfish Report

It’s definitely spring time here swordfishing in Islamorada. We’ve had strong winds, many days with 15 – 20 knots from the south east,  making for some choppy fishing conditions. If you don’t mind taking a beating, being a little wet and salty, and getting tossed around for the day in 4 – 7” waves, then it deep dropping for broadbills is an option. Sure it makes it much tougher to see the bites, but we always have a shot when we make it out there. The bite has been decent overall. On my last 5 swordfish trips we caught 2 fish on 2 trips, 1 big fish one trip, a medium fish 1 trip, and one trip was a shutout. At the end of March my customer told me a swordfish was a bucket list fish. He said he had tried swordfishing multiple times before, once in Key West, and another time up here in Islamorada, but never with me. I told him I didn’t think it would be a red hot bite, but if he had patience and we put our time in we’d have a shot most likely. He said he believed in me, and was willing to wait it out for a potential bite. The first drop was quite. No action. The second drop we got a cheap bite. The fish pulled on the bait one time and never came back. Third drop was a charm though, and we hooked up. We used the Shimano Hooker Electric and got a 75 lb swordfish in the boat that drop.

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It was a perfect fish for dinner, and he couldn’t have been happier! The wind slowly started picking up at this time, but we kept fishing. The 4th drop we made a long drift, but no luck. I said lets make one more drop, and sure enough we got a bite. After 20 minutes we had our second broadbill swordfish of the day at the boat, around 55 lbs. We called it a day after that, and headed back to Bud n’ Mary’s Marina.

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My next trip was with some of my favorite cleints, the White’s and the Cronin’s. We have fished multiple times before, and young Grady White loves to fish! At 10 years old he’s keeps you laughing on the boat, but he told me in the morning that he wanted a swordfish or nothing! We tried for swords once a few years back and lost one, but this trip would prove to be different. We hooked a fish on the second drop. Grady worked the Shimano Hooker Electric reel in the rod holder, and attempted to bring up dinner. Unfortunately that fish got away 500′ down, but we didn’t give up. We had a cheap bite the next drift, but he didn’t take the bait. This started to frustrate me, so I ran back south and reset for another drop. We hit bottom and BAM! We were hooked up within a minute. Grady listened well, and I coached him on how to take his time bringing up this fish. It was going to be their dinner for many nights to come. After 15 minutes we had the sword on the leader. We stuck the gaffs into a 95 lb sword and it was high fives all around.

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I told Grady when he gets a little older and bigger we’ll let him handcrank one, but I know he still had fun using the power reel. On the way home we did a few drifts of deep water bottom fishing, and managed 3 queen snapper. This is late in the season for queen snapper, but they’re might be a couple here and there the next couple months. We had One real big one and a couple medium ones. We also caught a few blackbelly rosefish. All of which are very good to eat! We headed back to the dock after that and they had a nice cooler of fish for dinner.

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My third trip was the shutout. I had Will out, who had fished a lot, and he knew swordfishing was “big game fishing”. There’s no guarantees. All we can do is try. We had one cheap bite all day, which no one noticed. When we checked a bait it was a little scuffed up and the leader had a slight fray, probably a small fish whacking it one time. We did catch a couple nice tripletail for dinner though.

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My next trip I had Garret and his dad Barry out. G- Man as we call him has fished with me quite a few days. He has a good track record on swordfish with me, catching them on 5 of 6 trips, but he always wanted to tango with a big one. Last summer his dad got a 181 lber with me, but this time it was Garret’s turn again. On the way out we caught a 15 lb mahi.

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We finally made it to the sword grounds in the high seas and decided to drop my new Shimano Beastmaster 9000. The reel is small and light weight, but I put 65 lb braid on it, and had it paired up on a 5′ shimano rod with a light wind on leader. The question was could you catch a big swordfish in 1800′ of water on such a small reel. The answer is yes! At the end of our first drift we hooked up! The fish came near the surface after 20 minutes, but then went down. The fish came up and down the next 2 hours, but eventually sounded 1200′ down. You don’t just flip the switch and walk away while battling a sword on electric tackle. Sure it’s different than hand cranking, (which I’ve caught over 500 that way), but it still takes patience and time to bring the fish up. With it being rough, with 4 – 6 ‘ waves rocking us all day, this was goin to be a challenge. In the end it was a group effort, because the big sword died 1200’ down, and it took all of us to inch him up, but in the end we got him. It was a super stocky fish, with a beautiful shape to him. When the fish finally came up dead after close to 4 hours we stuck the gaffs in him and pulled it over the transom. It was high fives all around, and the Green Family had finally put a fatty on the deck with Capt. Nick. The fish wound up weighing 283 lbs back at the dock! What a way to break in the beastmaster on my first ever drop for swords with it.

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My last trip was another rough one. The wind was blowing 16 – 20 knots, and the current was very strong in the gulf stream, making for some rough areas. We almost cancelled in the morning, but Eddie and John said they were up to trying. On the first drop we had cheap bite no one saw. Probably because we were busy with a few nice mahi that swam by the boat as we were drifting. We had 4 mahi from 10 – 20 lbs on, plus the sword bait down. We caught all the mahi, but we didn’t see the sword when it hit the bait. The next drop we didn’t get a bite. I didn’t give up, and we reset. This time Bingo. We hooked up after a few minutes. Eddie worked the fish up. More mahi swam to the boat, we hooked a few mahi, including a nice bull that went 23 lbs. The sword came up and jumped off the side of the boat. It was a legal fish, but we decided to release it.

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Mission complete. We didn’t stop there though. We made another drop, but no bite. We caught a few more mahi though. At this point we had a dozen mahi in the box, and half of them were from 12  – 23 lbs. I said one more drop before our long rough ride home. We got tight this drop after 20 minutes. It wasn’t a big fish, but it was another sword. After 20 minutes we had a 35 lber on the leader ready for release. We took a few pics and then released the fish. It was a great day with great people, and I know we’ll all get back out there again.

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May is the start of what I really consider sword season here, and sure we might have some wind the next couple months, but this is a good time to try your luck for a broadbill. If it’s too windy to swordfish we can either troll offshore or always fish the reef. Send me an email to floridakeysswordfishing@gmail.com when you’re ready to book your trip!

Capt. Nick Stanczyk

 

 

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