Small boat sword fighting

Aaron and his first Broadbill swordfish.

When summer days are getting shorter and the temperatures cool down, a certain fish comes to my mind.. the broadbill swordfish.

Times have changed a lot in the way that swords are targeted over the last decade. Staying up all night drifting baits out deep seems to be a thing of the past and dropping deep during daylight has taken over, which makes catching one of these trophy fish out of small trailer boats a real possibility.

During April this season, a patch of good weather lined up on a Saturday so my mate Aaron and I made the call to take his Surtees 495 out to have a crack at a swordfish.

After a bouncy 25nm trip to the spot we deployed our first bait, 600 metres down.

Rod tip action

The sea glassed off and after an unsuccessful first drift we repositioned and dropped again. Not long after reaching the bottom we had some interest in our bait, which at the rod tip only looked like small bites from a bluenose or other deep water critter. Moments later the line came tight and we were hooked up with Aaron on the rod.

This one did all the classic broadbill tricks, racing up to the surface from the depths and shaking its head trying to get rid of the hook. After 10 minutes and a lot of winding to retrieve the 600m of line we had out, a very energetic fish breached next to the boat within leader length, we made the call to take it home as it was Aaron’s first. I managed to get a lucky gaff shot which secured our catch and after a bit of heavy lifting we slid it in the boat.

Celebrations all round, they don’t always come that easily.

Planning is the key

With a bit of planning, quality gear and some luck, catching one of these bucket list fish doesn’t require a big boat or staying up all night dodging ships.

A few things to keep in mind if catching a swordfish in your trailer boat is something you wish to tick off.

Pick a good weather window. Backing into a chop all day then punching into it all the way home is never fun.

Always be confident in the boat you’re fishing out of. Four stroke outboards are pretty reliable these days and the fuel consumption allows you to cover a lot of miles but keep in mind some sword fights have gone for over 12 hours so bring plenty of gas and water.

Use quality tackle. I personally use a Tiagra 50w reel on a bent butt Killwell rod. Broadbill pull hard and are the ultimate test on your gear, never try using anything you have any doubt in.

Fresh bait is best, skippys are normally easy to catch during sword season, but pack a couple of frozen squid just in case catching bait proves difficult, it can save the day.

Crew: Make sure everyone onboard knows their role when you finally hook a fish, nothing worse than having the leader arrive at rod tip and your crew have no idea what to do. A quick talk before setting the bait can be the difference between landing and losing your fish.

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