Broadbills are Biting!

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Mid February broadbill and a GIANT sword in Mid March!

Well I finally have a good fish story to tell here while swordfishing in the Florida Keys. I did one trip in mid February in windy conditions, and we managed one bite on 4 drifts, which resulted in a 103 lb broadbill. I hadn’t swordfish since then, until this week in Mid March when the weather turned beautiful. I had to cancel a few trips due to the winds in early March, but the past week here has been beautiful. This isn’t my favorite time to go swordfishing, and everyone always asks me when the best time to go is. The truth is I like to fish nice weather! You always have a shot, 12 months a year, when trying to catch broadbill in Islamorada If the weather is decent. So anyhow on the recent trip I had Jim and his family out. I usually always have a mate helping work the deck with me, but I couldn’t find a hand for the day. It didn’t bother me though, I like to think I am the brains behind the operation. We ran 35 miles from Islamorada and started fishing early. We didn’t have any bites the first couple of drifts, and I was a little nervous. I decided to eat my banana, and discard the peel. Jim understood it was big game fishing and that there was  a chance we would never get a bite. We were about to wind up the bait at the end of the 3rd drop when we both noticed a subtle bounce in the rod tip. We moved the bait some to see what would happen. Sure enough the fish thumped the bait again, but the rod tip only moved an inch. A couple minutes passed by and we hooked up. The rod loaded over, and the shimano hooker electric reel was engaged.

3:18:15 fight sword

This reel is neat that it gives you the option to remove the motor and hand crank as well. I honestly thought we had a small fish on, so we decided to leave the electric drive engaged. Now I’ve always been a advocate of hand cranking swordfish, and have over 500 fish under my belt, but a lot of the enjoyment is being out there with your friends and family, and bringing up a swordfish on any tackle is still exciting. You still have to have patience and finesse the fish up. The fish stayed deep for about 10 minutes, which led me to believe it might be foul hooked. Jim also mentioned he would want to release a broadbill swordfish if we got one, if it was in good shape. After a little bit the fish started swimming the weight up. I figured it had to be atleast a medium size fish to carry up 10 lbs of weight. About 15 – 20 minutes later we got to the wind on leader. It was tough to tell if the fish was even on there for a little bit, she was coming at the boat. We finally got to where we could see the fish and I realized it was a nice one. I figured 200 – 250 lbs. Jim worked the fish up, and I walked back and grabbed the leader. I didn’t have the harpoon ready, or the flying gaff, cause we were planning on releasing the fish. I could see blood though. The fish was hooked deep, and it’s stomach was hanging out of its mouth. I grabbed one of my straight gaffs and gaffed the fish in the shoulder. Then I grabbed another straight gaff and gaffed the fish in the head. About this time the fish woke up and started fighting. I yelled for help, and Jim’s son ran down and grabbed hold of one of the gaffs. The fish was bigger than I realized. I knew now the fish was 300 plus. I had Jim hold the gaff while I grabbed the flying gaff. I didn’t have time to tie the rope up, but managed another gaff shot in the fish’s head. We all hung on for dear life. The fish was kicking and pushing the boat in circles with it’s power tail and force. Finally after bout 10 minutes the fish gave up.

3:18:15 gaff sword

Now it was time to pull the swordfish through the door into the boat. This took a little work, but we finally got her to slide in the door. The fish was much bigger than I realized once we got her in. We measure her and the lower jaw to the fork length was 103”! The fish had a 54” girth as well. I knew those measurements would put the fish over 400lbs!

3:18:15 giant swordfish capt nick stanczyk

We steamed back to the dock after we boated the fish. I made a few phone calls, one to my dad, and said “Fred’s dead”. Fred is the name of the giant swordfish we try to catch every time we leave the dock. Fred eludes us most the time, but we’ve caught a few “Fred’s” over the  years.  My Fiance Sara jumped down on the boat for a quick picture when we pulled in. It really made me realize how big the fish was.

3:18:15 sara sword


A crowd gathered to see the giant broadbill. We had some help unloading her and hanging her up on the scale. The fish was even bigger than I thought. No wonder the fish almost pulled me out of the boat when I straight gaffed her! The scale read a whopping 468.5 lbs!!! That’s the biggest broadbill I’ve been part of catching, and she truly was a beast of a fish. It was still exciting adventure, no matter what tackle.

3:18:15 swordfish on scale

We pulled the fish up as high as we could to get some more pictures on the weigh station. I looked at the fish, and thanked her for her life, and all the enjoyment she brought us. She was the reason I spent the last 30 months out there, trying to catch another 400 lber. In all honesty you never know when the next bite is going to be a monster! It truly was a great fish, and many people got the enjoyment of eating swordfish steaks from her. I hope this is a great broadbill swordfish season in Islamorada, and we are really just getting into what I consider “sword season”. Email me at to book a charter.

3:18:15 weigh sword


Capt. Nick Stanczyk


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