Swordfish, also known as Broadbill, are on most anglers bucket list, and for good reason. Few people have caught them. It takes patience, determination, strength, an arsenal of high quality fishing tackle, and lastly knowledge of how to target, and catch them.
They occur mostly in tropical waters, and the prime zone to target them is in 1400 to 1700 ft of water. Excellent eating, although not easily obtainable.
The current IGFA world all class, and 130 pound, is 1182 pounds (536kg),caught off Chile, in 1953.
We've just returned from Kenya, where four of us went to target the Grandslam in Billfish, on our usual trip in February each year. This is any 3 different species of Billfish caught and mostly, released within a 24 hr day. This includes, in the area we were fishing, of Black and Blue and Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Short Billed Spearfish, and Broadbill. You also get White Marlin, but these are not available in our waters.
Our plan was simple. Catch a Sailfish and a Marlin, and then go for Broadbill at night. That would mean 24 hrs at sea, including the whole night.
First day we were fortunate to catch, and release two sailfish, and then we found a Black Marlin of about 220 pounds. We should have then immediately gone for the Broadbill at night, but we were unprepared, because one of the group was his first time venturing into the big blue, and I wanted to make sure he wouldnt get sick.
Day two we were prepared. One sailfish strike, one hookup before lunch, which we lost because he threw the hooks. Around 11h30 we heard that the Yellowfin tuna were boiling in 1600 ft of water, so off we went and found two yellowfin of about 35 kg each. There were some bigger fish around, which were hooked, and lost, by other boats. At around 14h00 we hooked into a Blue Marlin of 250 pounds, which was subsequently caught and released by Tobie, after a 35 minute fight. Now we had the Marlin for the day, so headed back to Sailfish waters to get one. Another strike on Sailfish, and off. Its now 15h15 with lines up at 16h00. Meeting called, and the decision was made to go for the 24 hr all nighter. That way we still had another 3 hrs of light to get the Sailfish. Another two strikes, one hookup, and lost........ Disappointment. Time travels quick when you don't have enough, and before we knew it, the sun was gone! Oh well,there was always tomorrow morning for that Sail.... Patience, determination and perseverance is needed, and we were prepared. We planned for the new moon, so soon we were in pitch darkness, with the customary blackout on the boat, which is done specifically for Broadbill. They don't enjoy light, and usually live in the deep. Now the time drags, and at 21h25 the line on the downrigger started screaming. My turn, what a luck! I'm on 50 pound tackle, with standup harness, and I've been waiting a long time for this chance. Woww, what a privilege, and what power. They had to make sure i didn't go over the side, with the boat moving all the time. You got to fight her in darkness, because the light just makes them more grumpy. 35 minutes later we've got the leader in the hand, so the fish is mine to claim. She was tail wrapped which is unexplainable.... , and after 45 minutes of trying to revive her, we decided to boat her. She was just too weak to continue. Sad, but it happens, and for someone who has released many billfish himself, and many, many more on boats that I have captained, guided and been crew of, bittersweet. The night was still young, and at 23h00 we reset. Around midnight another strike, and Joe gets his first Broadbill, one we estimated at 90 pounds. Excitement, we now got 2 Broadbills. At 03h05, Tobie gets his, estimated at 100 pounds, and finally Botes gets his at 04h15, estimated at 90 pounds. As first light started making appearance, we were 10 strikes, 7 hookups, 3 released, and 1 boated. An excellent nights fishing, and with the Blue Marlin of earlier, still some time until 07h00 to get the sailfish. Back to work, which ended out not to be because all too soon, the clock struck us out.
What an excellent day/night, and what a privilege to be part of it. One of my most memorable days in over 10 000 hrs of fishing life. I am honoured. That fish weighed 226 pounds, my personal best. I have the Bill which is at the taxidermy to mount. I will always remember this trip, and specifically that fish. Thanks to an excellent Captain, who manned the wheel for 25 hrs straight. In Afrikaans you say: hy is n yster! Also many thanks to his crew, who didnt put a foot wrong, and were as excited as ourselves about being out there.
We had another full day after a day of rest, where we didn't see a Billfish. This brings everything into perspective. Its not easy, but it is attainable. We ended the trip with Botes getting his first Sailfish, Broadbill, his first Yft of 34.8 kgs, his first Greater Barracuda and his first Dorado. Joe got his first Black Marlin, Broadbill and Wahoo. Tobie got his first Broadbill, Sailfish and Blue marlin. We ended the trip after 3 days with 2 Sailfish, 1 x Black Marlin, 1 x Blue Marlin, 4 x Broadbill. There were some big Yellowfin tuna around, with about 10 over 80 kgs, with the biggest being 108 kgs that came out. Well done to the Captains, crews and anglers. Trophy, and bucket list fish!
Kenya is open for bookings for February 2023. Also trips to north kenya banks, Lamu Island. Early bird catches the worm. Deposit for the right boat, and the right days/nights soonest, prevents disappointment. Broadbill fishing can also be done in the day with a deep drop. Speak to me about a tailor made plan for you, and your group. I'll put you on your trophy, and bucket list fish. November is Sailfish time, with some Marlin around, but February is the best time for a Billfish Grandslam. Kenya is a world class fishery, one of the best in the world. I'll be back.