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Learning How To Swordfish At Night

Author: Colby Uva

An Idea Forms

My obsession with swordfish started at age 14.  I had spent the summer fishing with Zack and his dad Ned, and to their chagrin I had a new species/ type of fishing I was completely obsessed with, however this one required some investment.  I had been extremely as Ned had always obliged me when I got some type of new fishing obsession.  First it had been shark fishing, then bottom fishing, then jigging.  This one was a whole other ball game though, because it required investment in new equipment, and pushing the range of the trusty 18 foot Robalo. 

Luckily a hurricane passed through South Florida and there was plenty of work to do in the neighborhood.  Between Steve, Zack, and myself we were able to put together about $300 that could be invested into a "swordfish worthy setup". It would be a new addition to the arsenal.  My dad brought us to the Florida Sportsman seminar where the mission was to acquire a swordfish worthy setup.  It looked like our $300.00 was not going to cut it.  My dad gave us $100.00 and the we ended up "settling" for a TLD 30, but we were overjoyed because we finally had the means to take down a broadbill. (I am now glad we never hooked on on the damn thing because we would have been in for battle).  Zack's dad pitched in for some monofilament to spool our new "Swordfish Stick". 

Zack poses as a dead swordfish with his sister Lilly helping me hold him up. Steven Stallings holds up the prized possession the newly acquired "swordfish stick"

We never made it out to the real sword grounds on the Robalo, however we did go farther than we would usually go out with rigged squid, glowsticks , and all.  Years later I have to thank Ned for even doing that and for not taking us all the way out the grounds on an 18 foot boat.  We made a long drift, but the seas mounted and it was time for us to head in because sporty water at night way offshore for an 18 foot Robalo just isn't the way to go. 

The TLD 30 never made its swordfish debut, but we did use it to catch some nice bottom fish. 

First Real Swordfishing Trip 

A few years had gone by since our first attempts at swordfishing.  I had not given up yet, but the idea had remained dormant.  At my first job at Capt. Harry's fishing supplies while rigging wahoo lures, my co-worker Ramiro invited me to go swordfishing with him and his dad.  I was STOKED.  We did a daydrop and a night drift, but had no real luck. That same month I went with my friend Court Vernon, his dad Court (Cpt. Harry) and Jeffrey Liederman.  We had no hits, but my quest to catch a swordfish was newly ignited. 

First Feasible Solution

Then in 2009,  learned about the Catch My Drift in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  The Catch My Drift ran a swordfish trip where anglers could pay $120.00 to go on a headboat and catch swordfish.   This was my chance!  

I took a total of 3 trips on the catch my drift.  I would bring a 50 wide that I had borrowed from my Neighbor OJ and had gotten marked at the 100 foot mark.  All my research told me that most swordfish bites happened at 100 feet. So I would board the boat and guarantee my place at that mark.  

I took a total of three trips on the catch my drift. One was with Steven Stallings, that night we got skunked, but one of the anglers caught a 300Lb hammerhead. 

The next trip was with Eddie & Alex.  During this trip Eddie hooked a 150 Lber!  The first swordfish I had seen in my quest to land a broadbill.   The fish swam right at the boat and when the mate tried to gaff it and missed and then just like that in front of our eyes the sword pulled the hook. 

That trip we did end up getting a few fish to keep us entertained. A triple tail and a mahi that ended up swimming right to the boat.  

About a year later on New Years Eve, I finally got the shot I was waiting for.  After returning from a family trip and where we had woken up at 4am to get to the airport and landed 1 hour before the trip, I jumped in the car and raced to the boat in Ft. Lauderadale. 

On the first drop we the buoy tipped over and the fight was on.  The catch my drift had a great concept going.  Everyone gets to fight a fish if its big enough and everyone gets some meat.  In this way the $120.00 trip is very enticing.  

Well the swordfish we hooked, we fought for 5 1/2 hours.  In my 30 minute shift, I felt a power on the other end of the line that I had never experienced before, it was a hit of adrenaline that I will never forget. 

First Sword Trips On A Boat I Captained

In 2010 my Uncle decided he and the family were moving from Venezuela to Miami.   One of the first things he did was purchase a boat.  I was lucky enough to get to use it and boy did I spend some gas money.  There was no way I was going to even think about having a girlfriend at the time, because every weekend I was out there.  The gear added up, the gas added up, but the addiction was real. 

I watched all the videos I could find on the subject, and asked all the people I could ask. Legendary South Florida Cpt. Bouncer game me a one on one tutorial at the rigging station in Cpt. Harry's using an artificial squid he showed me his favorite way to rig it up. 

We got skunked on a ton of trips, but below are a few notable ones.  One warm October night I went with my little sister Madison and a buddy of mine from Undergrad.  Neither of them had ever been swordfishing before, but that night we hooked two swords.  The first one our crew was green, so there was a lot of training involved.  I drove the boat and they took turns fighting the fish.  Together they fought the sword for two hours.  After two hours the hooked pulled and we were devastated. 

After that fish we reset and it wasn't 5 minutes before we hooked ANOTHER ONE.  This fish we fought for an hour and then the hook pulled with the light within 100 feet of the boat.  That was a crazy night.  We litterally were fighting a fish for 90% of the trip. 

The next few sets of trips we caught small swords.  A 50 pounder and even a 20Lber.  Still no monster like the original fish. 

Teaching Other People How To Swordfish

At some point my Uncle decided to send the Boat back to Venezuela.  It was one of the saddest days in my life.  It was time to move forward though.   I began fishing on other peoples boats,  bringing the gear and helping them catch swords.  Below is a picture aboard the Sketchy with Cpt. Max Zerbone (the makers of Krystal Electric Reels) , Mark Resto tail hooked it.  

Learning From The Pro's

Next I learned from Captain Chris Balseiro, the founder of Reel Skinz, Inc.  Let me tell you the guy is a hell of a swordfisherman, actually his whole family is, he learned from his Cousin Cpt. AJ Sepe.   With Chris I spent a good amount of time learning how to daytime sword. 

The next boat I learned a great deal from is Double Threat Fishing Charters.  I spent many hours fishing with Cpt. Nick and Cpt. Brent.   They were a great team no matter how much they quarreled. Cpt. Brent had the attention to detail and Cpt.  Nick drove the boat keeping the boat aligned with the rod so that we had the best chance to see the bite.  With Cpt. Nick and Cpt. Brent we hooked the biggest sword I have ever seen in my life.  The fish was close to 600LBs.  We hooked the fish offshore Miami and fought it for 5 1/2 hours.   I fought the fish for 3 hours and Brent fought it for 2 1/2.  We had one shot at the fish, but it greyhounded towards the boat, and Cpt. Nick had to make the executive call to gun the boat forward as we may have been impaled by this pissed off behemoth swordfish. 

We also hooked a nice thresher shark on one of our daydrops.  

I haven't caught a swordfish in a few years now, but I still miss that adrenaline rush that shoots through my veins when we hook up. 

Tight Lines!

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