Your First Billfish – Soundings Online

Anglers in Florida developed tactics for targeting swordfish by day that are now used to great success by crews in the Northeast. 

Nothing comes easy in offshore fishing. The run is long, the waves are big and finding a fish in a million miles of ocean is hard. But there is a bluewater fishery with surprisingly easy entry. Two rods, a box of tackle and a thousand yards of line are all you need to deep-drop for swordfish.

Up until a few years ago, most anglers targeted swordfish at night by drifting with rigged baits and bright lights. The tactic was marginally successful and not easy. Then, anglers in the Florida Keys developed tactics to catch huge swordfish during the day. They dropped rigged baits more than 1,000 feet to swords feeding near the bottom. Since then, the technique has spread around the world. Daytime swordfishing is especially popular in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where anglers are deep-dropping in the canyons.

Swordfish are the black sheep of the billfish family. They are caught all over the world, in water temperatures from 40 to 80 degrees, which is the widest temperature range for any billfish. Unlike marlin, swordfish can’t be bothered to chase down a trolled bait. Instead, they feed lazily on chunks of meat drifting in the current.While swordfish can be spotted during the day swimming close to the surface, they are designed for life in the deep. They have the unique ability to warm their brains. In addition, because their huge eyes are encased in bone sockets, these fish can hunt in darkness under thousands of pounds of water pressure. It’s been said that humans know more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the ocean. If that’s true, swordfish live in the world we know least.

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