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July Swordfishing off Islamorada

This is my second swordfish report for July 2015 here swordfishing in Islamorada. I’ve caught atleast 1 fish on 6 of my last 7 trips. A couple weeks ago I had Blair out on the Catch 22. He’s fished with me before and this year he was celebrating his birthday. He also wanted to beat his nephews swordfish that we caught last year, which was a 135 lb. We ran out in the morning, and caught 20 mahi. They were nice schoolies and a few gaffers. Our first drop swordfishing we got a bite, but the fish never ate the bait. Second drop we never got a bite. Third time was the charm though and we hooked up. We used the electric reel in the Rod holder this time since Blair was recovering from a recent rshoulder injury. After 30 minutes the fish was on the windon leader and he made a nice jump behind the boat. We knew it was a decent fish, and he dove back down 300′. After another 20 minutes we gaffed the fish. Blair was in luck as it beat his nephews fish from the previous year. The broadbill weighed in at 139 lbs. A good fish! We made one more drop but no bites and headed home after that.

7/10/15 broadbill swordfish

7/10/15 broadbill swordfish

The next trip we had my cousin Kevin and his business partner Mark out. On the way out we caught 25 mahi from 3 – 15 lbs. First drop on the sword ledge we hooked up. We used the electric assist to hook the fish, and then detached the electric drive and put Mark in the Chair. The fish fought hard and after 40 minutes I stuck a gaff into him. It was a healthy broadbill, and he weighed in at 140 lbs. We hooked another fish the next drop, but he came off after a couple minutes. The next few drifts were quiet and we headed for the barn at 3:30 pm.

7/11/15 catch 22 fishing

7/11/15 catch 22 fishing

The following day was exciting on the Bn’M with Tim and his friends. The second drop we hooked up. We had 2 rods down, and the fish ate the bait on the Shimano Beastmast 9000. After 20 minutes we had the juvenile swordfish up. We took a few pics and then tagged and released him. I’ve been tagging some broadbills this year so I hope to get some recaptures to see how much they’ve grown and where they went.

7/12/15 gray fish tag swordfish

7/12/15 gray fish tag swordfish

On the 4th drop we hooked up again. The fish stayed deep and made some good runs. It acted funny so I thought it might just be a foul hooked sword. The fish wouldn’t budge past 500′. After 2 1/2 hours we finally got the wind on leader. We had the dart, the gaffs, and everything ready. A minute later we got a look at the fish, but it wasn’t a swordfish. We were a little disappointed but it was still an incredible creature. It was a rare Big Eye Thresher Shark! Considering I’ve caught around 700 swordfish and only 4 threshers ever it was a cool sight. We also put a gray fish tag in him, so if someone else recaptures him that would be something else! We decided to work our way in after that. We stopped a couple times and managed a quick 20 dolphin! We got pretty lucky with the dolphin cooperating.

7/12/15 big eye thresher shark

7/12/15 big eye thresher shark

7/12/15 big eye thresher shark 2

7/12/15 big eye thresher shark 2

7/12/15 big eye thresher shark 3

7/12/15 big eye thresher shark 3

7:12:15 mahi

I had my buddy Garret out the following day. The swords didn’t cooperate. We did 5 drifts but never had a bite. I didn’t want to go home empty handed so we went to do some deep dropping. The bite was on! We caught 3 big barrel fish, some rosefish, and a couple mahi swam up to us too! We might not of caught a sword but we still had a great day on the water and put some fish in the box.

7/13/15 barrelfish

7/13/15 barrelfish

My next trip we were back on the Catch 22. It was cloudy and overcast, which are my least favorite conditions for swordfish. There was 5 other boats fishing that day on the sword ledge. My one friend was south a few miles and reported a couple bites but no hook ups. My other friend was closer to us and he reported one cheap bite. We were patient and stayed on our drift and sure enough hooked up. It wasn’t a monster, but it was still a swordfish. We wound up tagging and releasing a 30 lb broadbill with a gray fish tag. We fished another couple hours but no more bites. It was a slow bite that day as the other 5 boats had a few bites, but I didn’t hear of any other fish caught.

7:18:15 broadbill swordfish

Capt. Scott and I had Leon and his son Lee out a couple days later on the Catch 22. Leon has fished with me a handful of days each of the past 2 years and has known to be lucky. We caught about 10 dolphin on the way out to the sword grounds. First drop for swords Capt. Scott saw a whack, where the rod tip bounced, but he never came back to eat the bait. After 15 minutes we checked the bait and we had a tangled mess! I think the fish tangled the rig. After 10 minutes we had the tangle out and stretched the leader. Next drop no bite. Scott ran to the next spot and we sent a bait down. We had some weather moving in with a big thunderstorm. We got a good bite on the sword rod though. The rod loaded up and Lee worked the reel. After 30 minutes we had the fish boat side and we stuck a 120 lber.

7:20:15 swordfish

7/20/15 swordfish nick

7/20/15 swordfish nick

Everybody was happy so we started running home. We did a couple “deep drops” for bottom fish but no luck. The only thing Leon said he’d like his son to catch was a big bull dolphin. I thought to myself, well it ain’t that easy but we could try. We had already had a great day with a good sword in the box and some mahi, but I thought to myself you never know. About 30 minutes later we stopped on 3 birds working and there he was. The big BULL. We pitched a ballyhoo and he came in lit up! He inhaled the bait and started jumping like crazy. Lee worked the fish on the spinner, Scott backed down, and I put together the 12′ gaff for a quick shot. After 2 minutes I swung but missed. A minute later the fish laid on his side and I hit him. It wasn’t a great shot, back towards the tail, but it was good enough and I slung him in the boat. The fish was just under 40 lbs and was really the icing on the cake!

7/20/15 bull dolphin catch 22

7/20/15 bull dolphin catch 22

A couple days later I had Andy, Ted, and Linda out on the Catch 22. We caught one dolphin on the way out. We sent down our first sword bait at 10 am and hooked up after 15 minutes. Ander worked the fish up. It was slick calm and very nice 0ut. After 20 minute we had an 85 lb swordfish by the boat. Ander got his first ever swordfish on the first drop!

7:22:15 gaff swordfish

7/22/15 ander swordfish

7/22/15 ander swordfish

The next drop we hooked up again. The excitement was short lived though as we pulled the hook after a couple minutes. The third drop was quiet, with no action. I saw a big weed patch so we ran over there and managed 10 schoolie dolphin. We ran back to reset for swords and sent down a fresh bait. After 10 minutes the rod loaded up. I knew the fish might be hooked funny, because I never saw him whack the bait. After 30 minutes the fish jumped. I thought it was only 75 lbs, but then he dove back down 400′. Swordfish weights can be very deceiving at a quick glance.  When he jumped I saw the bait and skirt near the top of his head. I kept my fingers crossed the hook would stay in and after another 30 minutes we had the fish boatside. He was bigger than I thought and a minute later we gaffed the 125 lb sword. We made one more drop after that but no luck. It was a great day with a pair of broadbill and some mahi.

7/22/15 nick sword

7/22/15 nick sword

I won’t be fishing much past the first week in August since I’ll be on vacation, but September and October are two great months to target broadbill swordfish. Send me an email to floridakeysswordfishing@gmail.com if you’d like to book a broadbill swordfish charter and we’ll give it a shot!

Tight Lines

Capt. Nick Stanczyk

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