The water was calm and the sun was still fairly high in the west as we pulled out of Haulover Cut in Miami with high hopes of landing a Swordfish that night. About an hour later then sun was dipping below the horizon we began drifting in about 1200 feet of water with four rods set at 100, 200, 300 and 400 feet. The night was peaceful and by the time we returned shortly after 1 am we had a 125 lb swordfish on board and dropped one other. Night Swordfishing had until recently been the way to go about catching Swordfish in South Florida, but some intrepid anglers have now discovered how to get results fishing for these incredible fish during the day!
When and where to catch swordfish in Florida
Swordfish can be taken in South Florida all year long and it didn’t take long for anglers to figure out the best methods for targeting daytime swordfish and consistently bringing fish to the dock. Fishing for swordfish in Florida requires fishing in very deep water with some heavy current so many anglers have decide that during the day one rod is the way to go. Night fishing for Swordfish usually meant multiple rods with baits set at vary depths as the fish would rise from the bottom in search of food, but during the day they generally stay near the bottom using their bills to stir up the bottom while using their large eyes to feed in the darkness of almost 2000 feet of water. The larger fish are generally taken in the fall and winter months.
Depending upon the size of the boat and competency of the crew most anglers have gone to electric reels to bring up the fish from such depths. Due to the depth and the fast moving current most anglers also prefer to fish only one rod to avoid issues such as tangles and cutoffs when trying to crank up a fish from 1800 feet of water, which will take several minutes of which any number of mishaps can and usually do occur. It is usually necessary for someone to constantly bump the engine in gear to keep the line away from the boat but without having to let too much line out to be in the vicinity of the bottom.
What type of tackle for Daytime Swordfishing
Even checking the bait is an effort using conventional tackle. A Penn International (or similar) filled with 80 lb test mono as a backing is a popular choice, but because of the depth and stretch of that line at least 1000 yards of something like 80-150 lb test of a high visibility solid core braided line that is much thinner than mono and has little or no stretch to it. Remember you want the strength of heavier line to fight bigger fish but thin enough to offer minimal resistance to the strong current. This set-up is very similar for either the conventional or electric reel. A bent butt rod matched to the reel makes the process much easier on the angler.
Keep a sharp eye on the depth finder as Swordfish tend to be found most often around structure and bottom contours that create crosscurrents allowing the Swordfish to more easily lay in wait for prey. Remember that due to the depth and current chances are you are seeing the bottom well in advance of your bait covering that area as well as your bait being anywhere from 20-40 feet off of the bottom.
How to rig for daytime Swordfish
[As for the actual daytime swordfish rig, well, there are many variations of this set-up and you’ll get different opinions depending upon whom you ask so I’m just going to give you the basics. Connect a wind on leader about 150 feet in length of 200-300 lb test mono, heavier is better in stronger currents. A few feet in front of the braided line/mono connection place two heavy-duty wax loops about 2 feet apart so that you can attach a short piece of 20 lb test mono between the loops. You will hang a sinker from this piece of 20 lb test mono as a break-a-way device. Since you will be losing these sinkers (weighing anywhere from 10-14 lbs) when striking a fish or other reasons, using lead can get prohibitively expensive, many anglers will fill containers with concrete and use those instead. Large cans work well and pieces of coat hanger can be bent to form the eye. Place two lights on the leader, one stronger light about 40-50 feet from the rigged bait and another smaller light about 15-20 feet from the bait. Remember these lights need to be able to handle the pressure of those depths. Experiment but don’t deviate too much from what you know works until you have taken several fish and have a better understanding of what is needed. The bait will be a matter of choice whether it’s a rigged squid, dolphin belly or bridled live bait such as a blue runner or Goggle eye.
I normally would go into some detail here about not only how to rig the baits, favorite spots off of Ft. Lauderdale and how it really takes a team to successfully catch Swordfish at night or during the day, but the truth of the matter is that if you’ve never fished this way before it could be an exercise in futility to merely go out and drop in the middle of a huge expanse of 1600 feet or deeper water. My suggestion is to charter one of the experienced and very capable captains whom daytime fish for swordfish in Florida and soak up all the knowledge you can. It will probably turn out to be more enjoyable and maybe even a bit cheaper than the trial and error of a steep learning curve!