Miami Swordfishing

MIAMI Fishing Report

After reading about the success of the day time deepwater swordfishing out there I decided that we should give it a try. To celebrate my birthday Kenneth, Daniel and I gave it a try.

I found an add in one of the sportfishing magazines for a character name Bouncer Smith who fishes from a twin 300 HP Suzuki Dusky 33 center console. He is recognized as one of the local experts and everyone knows him. Apparently he has had reasonable success in this venture. So I contacted him and set up 2 days for us. He says the September and October are best and usually the few days (i.e. the week) before the full moon. He indicated that they bite best about an hour before sun down and an hour after. Thus the plan was to fish both afternoon and evening – about 2 PM to 10 PM.

 It is $1,200 a day. He supplies equipment and bait plus ice and you supply cold drinks, food, and he has a place to keep you food stuffs dry. By the way, gas costs $4.25 per – ouch. He burned 60 gallons the first day and 70 the second.  We did the 2-10 routine on Thursday, October 29. The forecast for Friday was winds picking up later in the day so he elected to fish 8-4 on Friday.

 His marina is at the south end of Miami Beach and only a short run to open water. We fished about 20 miles out and in 1600 feet of water where the bottom was rapidly tapering down.  No life out there. No birds, no seals, no porpoise, etc, but very nice cobalt blue water. The wind blowing from the north and the gulf stream moving from the south he tends to move very slowly  (1-2- knots) in order to stay in the same location.

He uses a bent rod with a Daiwa 3000 (corresponds with the price - $3,150). It is loaded with 80 pd. Yellow spectra and almost 100 ft of wind on 300 pound. Leader. He uses IGFA 30 ft leaders for the purists. The bent rod acts like a small out-rigger in that it points away from the boat and keeps the line away as opposed to a straight rod that points up and holds the line closer to the boat.

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  It is an electric reel with a line counter (in meters) and a level wind which helps immensely when retrieving line. The reel is only a little larger than a large Penn reel and handles quit well. I don’t know if they are coming out with a 2 speed that would help considerably. I believe the reel is filled with a lot of 80 pd. Spectra with a Bimini and then loop to loop with the wind on leader.

 He says there are three ways to fish: push the button and let the reel do all the work – leave the rod in the rod holder and hand crank – or take it in hand and mano-a-mano fight it out. He uses a “Black Magic” stand-up harness with thigh plate and it was comfortable for Kenneth.

 The weight consists of three bricks (Home Depot) taped together with a strong Gorilla Tape and one wrap around zip tie:

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They then use about 40’ of 60 pd. Mono to tie the bricks to the upper end of the leader. By having the reel slow down the drop the leader extends out away from the bricks and doesn’t tangle.   

 They pre rig baits with about 7-8' of 300 pd leader material and attach the small water activated light to the clip and then freeze the baits so that they have a supply ready to go.

 They attach the light with a long line clip to the leader about 20 ‘ above the bait.  For bait we used strip (Dorado) baits with 2 hooks. They pre rig baits with about 7-8' of 300 pd leader material and attach the small water activated light to the clip and then freeze the baits so that they have a supply ready to go.

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 They let the line to the bricks loop out on the surface behind the boat as the leader and bait are let out.  They then drop the bricks into the water with the reel controlling the rate of drop. Too fast and the leader will stream up and foul the main line.

 When the bricks reach the bottom they will raise it up about 40-50’. Thus, with the weight handing loose and the boat rocking the bent rod will gently move up and down. Bouncer insists on watching this action continuously. Often a fish will pick up the bait and only a slight jerking of the rod is seen. Thus, there is no typical “drop-back” letting the fish run with the bait. He might gun the boat to help getting the hook set and it is game on.

 And they usually try to check the baits about every hour or so (a little longer). That's when the electric reel comes in handy for cranking up those bricks each time. Sometimes they use 30 pd. mono instead of the 60 so that they can break them off by gunning the boat (probably at the end of the day).

The first day in mid afternoon it happened and Kenneth was able to pull on it, but the hooks came free after about 10 minutes.  When letting the second bait back a  sailfish picked it up and Daniel cranked it in for tagging, pictures and release.

 Apparently, the fish caught during the day tend to be larger and those at night in the 50-150 pd. Class. Night fishing is completely different. They drift four lines out to the side set at 4 different depths. They will use squid mainly at night. Two of the lines are connected to floats that have light sticks attached so that you can see if they are picked up and start moving off in different directions or get pulled down. The floats consisted of large Pepsi bottles.

This is the float with the light stick attached. Pardon the foot - it  is there to keep the "float" from rolling. The rubber band at the neck 
is to hold the fishing line.

After setting the lines out and waiting one got picked up and went straight down. Bouncer said that if they go down it is usually a shark for the swordies usually swim up to the surface. And after Kenneth pulled for a while, up came a 200 pound HammerHead. We managed to let him go.

This is Ken on the first hook-up on Thursday PM - only about 10  minutes                                               

 On both days we stopped at a structure (reef?) and made bait. Lots of 4-6 inch herring caught on small lucky Joe rigs with small plastic “feathers.” We put about 30 or more in the tank.  That first day one of the locals gave us some mullet as well.

On the way out up came a Blue Marlin “feeder” and such a sight is very unusual for these waters. We put out a lure (they like Softheads) for a while, but no biters.

 The second day with the early start we stopped for the herring baits. Shortly out we spotted frigates working the water. We headed for it and found a floating log and lots of dorado around. So it was WFO fishing with the herring bait and we brought in 7 quickly. I even managed to bring in 2.  Good for eating and making strip bait. Later on Kenneth and Buster cleaned them. We took some of the fish up to a restaurant at the Marina and they cooked it for us. Very fresh – very good. Buster took the bellies to use for making bait and Daniel took the fish to the hotel where they froze it and then got an insulated bag to carry the frozen fish home.

 When we got out to the “grounds” we got set up. It wasn’t too long before the tip of the rod started jerking and even started to run. Game on! With Kenneth in the harness he worked at it for 2 and a quarter hours.  When it got close it charged the boat down about 20-30’ several times. It was quite a sight looking straight down at it. At one point it took off and ran back down to the bottom. But he worked it back up.

When the upper end of the leader cleared the water the weight was still attached. We got close enough for the deck-hand to reach out and cut it’s line. In addition, as it comes up it is easy enough to unclip the light if you get that close to it and before you start reeling leader onto the reel.

 But it was not to be. 2 hours and 15 minutes at it and suddenly that sickening jerk as  the hooks pulled free. Close, but no cigar.

                                Ken on the second one Friday AM - 2 hours 15 min.

 So we had some action. Learned a lot and maybe we can apply this technique to our local waters. Keep you posted.

 Marty      ----(--(