Swordfish on the Darkside

Matt, Jim, and Frank, flew into Miami from Philly Pa., with one purpose in mind. They wanted to catch Swordfish. Matt & Jim had fished 2 nights with me almost 2 years ago and to recap, the first night we caught 1 and the second night we went 2 for 6 in the first hour and half and went home. Each had caught their first Swords. The weather was horrible and the weekend forecast was atrocious. They arrived Friday morning, called me immediately, and we discussed the upcoming trip for Saturday night. I was on the computer watching the forecasts, NOAA updates, radar images, and buoy data, throughout the night. We awoke Saturday morning to torrential downpours and the radar images showed no promise. Thunderboomers and lightning strikes, along with strong wind and seas, were the factors which couldn’t be denied. Around 11 AM I pulled the plug on the trip for the safety of my crew. As it turned out it was a very good choice! Foreseeing this possibility, Matt and I had already blocked out Sunday for them. Sunday morning the phone rang and Matt and I discussed our possibilities. The only thing that wasn’t going right were the wind and seas. Forecasted winds were East at 15 knots with seas at 2-3 feet building to 4-5 feet. Having fished on my WorldCat before, Matt and his crew knew it’s capabilities and were good to go!

We met at the dock at 5 PM and unleashed The BEAST. I punched my route into the GPS and brought the Suzuki 300’s up to cruise speed. As we crossed the Bay and into the patch reefs, Devon was rigging new leaders and baits for the night. We hit the blue water, well ahead of schedule and I slowed our speed down, turning to Devon. He was a step ahead of me. He had already put out a rod for some high speed trolling. Nothing doing in the Wahoo department, this evening. We reached my drift point, and immediately began checking my drift speed and direction. A leisurely drift of 1 ½ mph. NICE! That will keep us in the strike zones longer. As the sun set, we deployed 2 float rods and 2 tip rods. As I passed a flag (waypoint) on the GPS, of a previous trips catch, nothing happened. A quarter mile later the deep tip rod starts thumping. Matt puts on the Brute Buster harness to “do work”. Get’em Mattie! The fish is obviously not a tackle tester. The fish is coming in easily as if he read a “Be caught with Less Stress” book. We only had to pull the other tip line and no boat maneuvering was needed. Devon made short work of the leader job. We quickly took pictures and dispatched this 42” fish. “The skunk is off the boat, Boys!”


We lowered the 2 tip rods once again, continuing on in the drift. As my crew finally settle down from the recent catch, the deep tip gets the nod, again. Thunk, thunk… thunk! I ran to the rod and cranked the handle, coming tight on the fish. Frank immediately takes over and keeps the line tight as they strap the harness on him. As he lifts the rod out of Rodney Rodholder, I noticed the tip abruptly straighten. Frank says “It’s gone. Crap, it‘s gone!” We reeled the line in to check the bait. A little worse for the wear but still in good shape, I lowered it again. About half way down, the line goes slack as something picks up the bait. Hmmm, nothing there! Drop a bit more, nothing there. After another 15 minutes I decided to pull them up and get back on the good drift line as we had been pushed inside onto the flat. What the heck? I was drifting a Berkley Gulp Squid on the deep float line and it was gone, not the hook, only the bait. Now anyone who has ever fished a Gulp product knows that you almost have to cut them off to remove them from the hook. I never had that happen before. I still can’t get over that one.

We ran back to point A and moved offshore a bit more. Once again we put out the same setup. Time is passing slowly but the stories and sarcasm are flying. We pass the first bite area and nothing happens. Suddenly we see the deep float rod fall over but the line is limp. Devon rapidly cranks the handle but nothing is there. When I say nothing, I mean nothing! As the float comes in we unhook it and realize shortly thereafter that something had cut off our whole terminal rig. No weight, no light, no leader, nothing. We re-rig and get the rod back out again. As we near the point of our last bite on the previous drift, the deep tip, once again gets the nod. Hooked up solid! Frank gets the harness on and begins working the fish. Not feeling to well as the Pringles are rolling in his belly, he stays the course and works this fish. Better than the last, but not as big as we’d like, he brings the fish to boat side. The drill on The BEAST is to get the fish in, get the hook out, a few quick photos, then get him back in the water. We executed this drill and the 48” fish swam away quickly. 2 down, 1 to go.


We continued our drift a while longer until the other tip rod has the clicker make a few clicks and this time the line is cut off once again but about 125 feet from the terminal gear. Devon is confused by this but I told him of a time I had a small shark cruise through the light and watched as he swam into my line and inadvertently caught it in his teeth cutting off 400’ of braid and all terminal gear. Same thing this night, but hey, they are having a dance down on the bottom, disco lights and all. Once again we had been pushed to far onto the flat to suit me so we pulled all the lines and made our way back to the drift start. One more time, Gentlemen. Devon rigs a new setup on the tip line and has to replace 2 baits that were whacked and hacked with no indication to us above. We set them out and the waiting was long this time. The night was drawing to a close and the shallower of the 2 tip rods makes a few clicks but nothing is there. We thought it was just the 5’ waves taking a bit of line. Everyone is getting tired and the boat grows increasingly quiet as a few of the crew start dozing off. I look at Jim and tell him it looks like his night will be uneventful but he reminds me that he caught 2 on the last trip, so it was not a big deal. I informed everyone that the fat lady was going to sing in 10 minutes. We reached the uneventful end of the last drift and I called for all lines in. First up, the tip rods. Well there ya go. That tip rod clicked because a fish had slashed the mustard out of that bait. The deep float rod came up slashed as well. As Frank is reeling in the shallow float line (longest from the boat) he tells Matt “It feels heavy.” Matt makes a few cranks and says, “I think something is on here!” Jim grabs the rod and it is game on for #3! Just as the fat lady was finishing her chorus, we come tight on the last line out, and we are on a better fish. This one required a bit more finesse and a little boat work but after about 15 minutes, Jim has it boat side. Legal fish and they want to keep it. I grab the leader and get the fish almost to the gaff and it gets a short second wind. A couple minutes later and I grab the leader and Devon stones him with the 5” straight gaff. We hoist the fish into the boat. Frank remarked how laid back and relaxed we were, never getting nervous or excited in the process.


Yes sir! A decent keeper fish, 52” LJFT, for the table. The BEAST pulled the rabbit out of the hat, for Jim! As the cheers and picture taking resides, I pointed the bow toward the barn and throttled up. Matt, Jim, and Frank, although tired, expressed their satisfaction to Devon and I. They gave us the best compliment we have ever had, when they remarked, “You are a great team that really loves what you do, and it shows.” Thanks guys, and see you next year!

Capt. Jim