We headed out Saturday morning with Brendin Page, Zack Page, Johnny Gondol, Thomas Bishop, Kent Philips and myself on board to have another go around with sword fishing.
We skipped our usual trolling at the ledge and headed straight to deep water for some daytime dropping in roughly 1,700 feet of water.At these depths we can only fish one line at a time and we use about a 15 lb. weight to get the bait to the bottom.On the second drop, Brendin hooked up with something big.We strapped him in to the gimbal belt and harness and it was game on.For the first two hours it was a lot of give and take and then Brendin started to make some headway.As the battle ensued Brendin’s hands started cramping up and the next thing we know he started with the dry heaves and then was just straight up throwing up.Keep in mind he’s strapped to the rod and reel with a harness and he’s doing this all while trying to reel and fight the fish.I’m glad we have raw water wash down in the boat.
After about 4 hours, not only were his hands cramping but his legs were shaking uncontrollably and once again he started with the dry heaves.He lost his concentration and let the line slack just for a second and that’s all the fish needed to shake the hook.We all sat in disbelief that the fish was gone just like that.Brendin crumpled to the floor and asked for more water.The fight had taken us 14 miles from where we started and the sun was starting to set.We headed back to the same area to set up for some night fishing.
Things were pretty uneventful so we broke out the grill and cooked up some burgers.Brendin was the first to fall asleep and one by one everyone started to doze off until it was just Johnny and I working the lines.Around midnight I saw one of the rod tips shaking a little bit so I picked it up to check it out.It felt like something was just shaking the line until I felt a steady pull.I set the hook and it was fish on!It didn’t put up a big fight but Johnny had the gaff at the ready when the fish finally broke the water about 15 feet away.It was thrashing its head around with the bill sticking out of the water.I could see that it was a small swordfish but Johnny couldn’t quite make out what it was.As I reeled it closer to the boat I told him to get rid of the gaff and just grab his bill.In one motion he pulled the swordfish over the side into the boat.We high fived each other and started to hoot and holler, waking everyone else on the boat back up.We took a few pictures, measured it to confirm it was too small to keep and then revived it before sending it back down into the darkness.
Now everyone was wide awake and ready to go.We had three lines out when Brendin had something grab one of his baits and head straight for the bottom, peeling off probably close to 400 yards before slowing down.Unfortunately it pulled loose soon after.Not even ten minutes after resetting his line Brendin had another fish on.He fought it for about 15 minutes before he got it to the boat.In short order we had it gaffed, pictures taken, packed it in ice and got the lines back out.
About an hour later Brendin shouted out that there was a swordfish jumping near the front of the boat with a glow stick attached to the line and that everyone needed to start reeling to find out who was hooked up.Thomas came tight with the fish and set the hook.Fish on.After another 15 minute fight we had our second keeper swordfish in the boat.We set up for one last drift before it started getting light.We had one more fish on but lost him after just a few minutes.Fuel was now becoming an issue so we headed back into the ledge for a little bit of trolling before the long run in.We caught two bonita and lost a decent size mahi at boat side.Everyone was exhausted so we cleaned up the boat a little and broke out the bean bags.We had two swordfish on ice and released another.Not a bad trip.The ocean was calm so I throttled us up, cranked up the tunes and headed for the hill.No state record again but we didn’t really care because we had such a great time and it makes such a good excuse to go back again!
We headed out last Wednesday at 6 a.m. with myself, the boys and one of their buddies in hopes of catching the state record swordfish.We caught one last year that would have made the books if our “light” man Thomas hadn’t fallen asleep when Zack had the fish boat side 3 hours into the 5 hour battle or if Zack had manned up and not passed the rod off to Zane at the end of the fight– but that’s a whole different story.
We stopped at the R3 Navy Tower and caught a bunch of bait and then we trolled the 10 or so miles to the ledge.Shortly after arriving at the ledge we had a rod go off and Brendin grabbed it as the line was screaming off the reel.Within seconds a sailfish jumped out of the water trying to shake the hook.Brendin took his time and finessed it to the boat and Zane grabbed its bill and pulled it into the boat for a few nice photos.Once released, we continued to troll the area when the rod next to me went off.I had a hard time getting it out of the rod holder because the drag was set so tight.Once I got it out we saw a “large” fish turn sideways in the spread and he pulled loose of my hook.It looked like it could have been a blue marlin as the fish appeared to be several hundred pounds but it never came out of the water for us to confirm what it was.After that it seemed like we couldn’t get away from the barracuda except for the occasional bonita.
We headed out to about 1400 feet of water and had a go at day dropping for swordfish.On the third drop, Brendin hardly had a chance to put the rod in the rod holder when the rod tip started to bounce.He picked up the rod and it doubled over and the fish on the other end started to take line.We got the gimbal belt and shoulder harness hooked up and after about ten minutes of fighting the fish (holding on) the line went slack - BIG FISH.After another ten minutes of reeling, the bait finally came to the top and apparently hadn’t been bitten.We are speculating that a sword attempted to swat at the bait and got tangled in the line for a short while.
As the sun faded we switched our tactics to night fishing under a bright ¾ moon.We could see lightning to the North and South of us but according to our radar the storms were each about 20 miles away and pretty much stationery.Brendin was working two lines and Zane was working one.Brendin had several hits but couldn’t seem to hook up until the third time.The fish wasn’t putting up much of a fight as he was bringing it to the boat and we weren’t sure what to expect.Zane then said he had a fish on as well.When Brendin’s fish came boat side we could see it was a small swordfish and Zack leaned over and grabbed its bill and brought it into the boat about the same time Zane brought a mahi into the boat.It was pretty exciting that we caught a swordfish and a mahi at the same time.Swordfish need to be 47 inches from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail and this one was a few inches shy.We took a few pictures and released it back into the dark.
After setting out the lines again we notice the wind had picked up and the storms seemed a little closer.A quick look at the satellite radar and we could see that the storms were growing in size as well as towards each other.I wanted to head deeper to try to avoid them but majority ruled and we headed back in toward the ledge figuring we would fish there once we got out of the way of the storms.Unfortunately the storms came together into one big storm and began to move in our direction.We wanted to head West and eventually we were going directly North to try and stay ahead of the storm.It was filled with lightning and the boys sat and watched the light show as we ran for about three hours until the storm slowed and I was able to pull back on the throttles.
We were now in 80 feet of water and didn’t have enough fuel to make it back to the hungry swordfish.We made the best of it and trolled around the R7 Navy Tower for a short while and picked up a nice king mackerel and a few more barracuda.We decided to call it a day and we were back to the house by noon.The only thing the boys could talk about for the next few days was planning the next trip to try for the state record, again.
Well, what would you say if someone offered you the chance to troll from Ft Lauderdale, FL to Hilton Head, SC ?
My two older sons and I had an opportunity to travel on a 68' Hatteras from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Hilton Head, SC. We skirted the Bahamas trolling the whole way and the only thing we caught were barracuda and lot's of them.. The only time we didn't troll was in the dead of night.
Once we reached the Florida Georgia border I made some suggestions to Captain Miles because we were now in the waters that we fish as Team X-TA-SEA. Just south of the South Ledge we started to pick up some mahi. We spent about two hours there and picked up 4 or 5 Mahi that were mixed in with the barracuda. We decided to high-speed troll towards the Deli before heading shallower to spend the night. Within 15 minutes we had a 32 lb wahoo and 23lb bull dolphin in the fishbox.
We then spent the night near a nearshore reef (we didn't have any of our coordinates). At 8:00 the next morning the first cobia we caught was undersized but the action picked up. I was only awake about 5 minutes when my first cobia came over the rail. We even sent up a kite and caught two cobia off the kite. There were lots of tiger sharks working the area with pods of cobia sticking close by. We managed to entice a few away from sharks using jigs. What a thrill it is to watch a cobia leave the pack and come chase down your jig!
We ended up the day with 11 keeper cobia and 5 undersized that were released. Yours truly caught the biggest cobia weighing exactly 65 lbs!
We had our lines in by 2:30 and finished our trip to Hilton Head with a loaded down fish box.
The women in our lives were kind enough to let us go fishing on Easter Sunday.
We left the dock at 2:00 a.m. but the 4 to 5 footers made it a slow go and we didn't get to the ledge until 7:00. Upon arrival we found that we had the South ledge to ourselves. The water temp was 72.5 and there were numerous weed lines. We zig zagged our way along and caught dolphin as they launched there attacks on our baits from under the weed patches.
Once again we lost a wahoo lure that we were trolling sub surface with a 2lb trolling sinker. We were bit-off just above the wire leader and the fish didn't pull any drag in the process. Big wahoo?
As we trolled over the South ledge in the afternoon we managed to catch a black fin shortly before a large amberjack crashed the party and gave us a run for our money.
I noticed the temperature had risen to 79 degrees and the weed lines were no longer present. The bite had slowed so we figured we would fish the R3 navy tower for a little while on the way in.
The tower was swarming with cigar minnows, barracuda, amber jack and spade fish. I stood with a jig at the ready as we watched the fish come up and check out our boat. Suddenly I heard my son Zack shout "two cobia coming right at us". I flipped my jig in front of them and the larger cobia shot forward and slurped it in. Fish on! After a 35 minute battle of give and take and trying to keep the fish from breaking me off on the structure we were able to get a gaff in him and get him in the boat.
Still dripping with sweat I pointed the boat towards Wassaw Sound and started the long haul in as light was fading. We reached the dock around 9:30 and got back to the house around 10:00 only to find my wife had a wonderful Easter dinner waiting for everyone!
We ended up with a total of 18 dolphin (the two largest were nearly 30 lbs), 1 blackfin tuna, a large amberjack and a nearly 50 lb. cobia.