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Articles :

Swordfishing in Florida
Troy Denson

During the Summer of 2000, I met up with a long time friend of mine, Joe Settembrino. Sitting in his living room the topic of fishing came up, as usual. He mentioned night fishing and we began talking about the infamous Swordfish. Through the grapevines I had been hearing that recreational fisherman were beginning to once again "catch them up". Thinking back, I remember spurting out, "We need to make friends with someone to take us Sword fishing, keep your feelers out!" Ever since I was a child I had dreamed of landing a swordfish, the notorious predators of the night. A popular target of the mid 80's long liners that suffered depletion and became scarce throughout the southern waters, until recently of course.

Now Fast Forward Two Years...."Don't get your hopes up, don't get your hopes up!!" That's all I could say to myself as my wife and I headed south on I-95. As normal, I was zoning out and imagining the possibilities of an epic catch on the way to another fishing adventure. But this time things were a little different. You see, we were on our way to go see Joe in Fort Lauderdale, FL. For the last three months Joe had been telling me of the Swords he had been slamming. But seriously, could he have learned that much and really figured out how to catch Swordfish? Little did I know, he had found "the friend".

By 6:00pm we pulled into Fort Lauderdale, arriving late due to rush hour traffic in Southern Florida. If you have never tried I-95 at 5:00pm around Deerfield Beach, your missing out. It's loads of fun. By the time we get our gear in the boat, ice from Ft. Lauderdale Marina at 15th Street and our live Blue Runners from Joey's bait stash it's 7:30. As we make our way out Joe and his good friend Toby Brundage give us the low down on how they had come to learn how to Swordfish. They had met Chris, a young but experienced angler that works at the Fort Lauderdale Marina. He had single handedly taught himself the do's and don'ts of swordfishing through trial and error and talking with the old timers. Joe told me that Chris had ventured offshore 13 times before landing his first Sword and now we were about to follow his fine tuned Swordfishing theory. By 8:45 we had finally reached our target depth, an hour and 15 minutes of working through 3' foot seas, 15 knot winds and complete d! arkness.

As I sit and watch, Joey and Toby begin throwing together the tackle; 250 lb leaders, large stainless steal hooks, glow sticks, and LP's (flashing light emulating devices). These lights flash a bright blue or green light
under water that is used to attract the swordfish. After getting the gear set up on the first reel, Joe bridled a large Blue Runner and dropped the bait, leader and the attached LP overboard. Once the bait was to our desired depth, approximately 200 feet, we attached a balloon with a glow stick taped on to the mainline. This gives us a visual on the direction of the line as we let the bait drift away from the boat. We proceed to follow this regiment twice more and then we sit/stand and wait.

Now in my mind I was expecting to see the rod get doubled over upon impact of the ferocious, attacking Swordfish. The reality however is quite different. They seem to play with the bait, possibly slashing the bait with their broadbill. You have to be constantly aware of the very slow release of drag. So there we are, an hour after we had put the lines out and Joe heard the drag.."What Drag?" I'm closest and I grab the rod. "Reel!!! as fast as you can." That's exactly what I do and as the line gets tight I believe the fish realized he was hooked. The rod doubled over and the fish surged, as he did the hooks slipped or was spit and the line went limp. In my mind I'm thinking, "Damn, I just lost my chance at catching a Sword."

30 minutes later.......zzz, zzz, zzz..."Jen, grab the rod on the stern," says Joe. She lays into reeling as fast as she can, the rod bends fiercely and she is nearly pulled over. This fish is mad! She strains and hollers, happy then sad...The fight lasts for nearly 45 minutes as she gains line then loses line...Finally in the darkness of the night we see the flashing LP. The sword is nearing, "It's about to go down," says Joe and as the creature of the dark breaks the water he grabs the sword and flings it to the boat.

I couldn't believe it! There it is, a swordfish on the boat I am fishing on. The feeling is incredible. After so many years of pondering the up close look of the seductive broadbill I am finally able to experience what had only been described before and I am ecstatic.

Over the next four hours, each one of the four of us, caught a swordfish one by one. The strikes were spread out fairly evenly and at all different depths. Overall, we went four for five this night. Two of the fish were legal and two were undersized. By the time we got back to the dock we were all exhausted and as we loaded our car to drive back to Port Canaveral I couldn't help but think about that day in the living room when I said, "We need to find someone to take us Sword fishing!"

by Troy Denson
To Learn all about swordfishing please visit


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