Paul Worsteling: Hi, I’m Paul Worsteling, from iFish, for Club Marine TV, and today I want to talk to you about the most special fish in the ocean, the broadbill swordfish. Its scientific name, Xiphias gladius, which translated, simply means sword sword.
I chased these things for 20 years before I even got a bite, that’s how elusive they are, almost the unicorn of the sea. Paul Worsteling: Now, if you want to target broadbill swordfish, you need to do a few things that are very, very specific to this denizen of the deep.
Over 20 years, I literally fished Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, Rowley Shoals, and then I thought, “I’ve got to go overseas and learn how to do it.” Basically, what we used to do is fish for swords at night, but now we’ve discovered a thing called day-dropping.
As soon as I day-dropped, went to Florida, caught up with Nick Stanczyk who was the greatest day-dropper of all time, I came back to Australia, the very first bait that went to the bottom, I landed this incredible fish.
Paul Worsteling: Now, a little about swordfish. You catch them ranging 20 kilos to 500 kilos. In fact, the world record is well over 1,000 pounds. They are so unique because they spend most of the day at around 500 to 600 meters of water, then at night, they come to the surface to feed on squid and all the little ooglies that come up to see the moon.
These fish are absolutely epic. They have been known to attack submarines, wooden boats. In fact, their bills have actually been retrieved out of the hulls of 100-meter ships because a sword got a bit angry and decided to attack it.
Paul Worsteling: Now, if you want to target swordfish, it’s quite simple. You need to fish in 400 to 600 meters of water on the edge of the continental shelf. You get them on the west coast of Australia, and you also get them on the east coast, but where they’ll be in relation to the latitude on the east and west coast is specific to the time of year, so make sure you do your research.
My all-time favorite depth for swords is definitely 550 meters, and believe it or not, I use two house bricks for a sinker. Paul Worsteling: The rig is probably the most intense fishing rig of all time and it goes like this.
Starts with two house bricks. Wrap a bit of Dacron around them, tie them together, put a loop in that. Then tie about that much 10-pound line to the loop in the house bricks. That goes to the bottom of your hook, the bottom hook.
You either use one J hook, a single circle hook, or two J hooks, depending on what you prefer and depending on the bait you’re using at the time. I like to run 400-pound leader, around three to four meters of 400-pound leader.
That then goes to a snap swivel. That snap swivel is attached to a wind-on leader of about 300 pounds, and that wind-on leader is generally around 20 feet in length. That is then attached to your 24 or 37 kilo line.
Paul Worsteling: On that leader, you need to attach lights. My theory; more lights, more bites. I like to run at least one diamond light and two big clip lights that are run by AA batteries. These lights literally look like an ambulance on a dark night.
Blue and red are my favorite colors, green isn’t bad. If you imagine going down to those depths, just how dark it is, the swordfish has an eye this big that is literally heated from behind so they can see better than most creatures down deep.
Looks like bioluminescence, the sword sees the light, comes over to have a look at your bait. Paul Worsteling: Now, talking bait, squid is probably the number one swordfish bait around the planet and probably constitutes around 70% of their diet, but big swordfish love to eat fish.
I’m talking tuna, I love striped tuna, it’s a great bait, wahoo, dolphin fish, belly flaps are just unbelievable. And the weird thing with swords, sometimes the smellier the bait, the more they like to eat it.
Paul Worsteling: I like to release my swordfish. They do release very well. Doctor Sean Tracey’s doing some interesting research at the moment on sat-tagging swords. We’ve actually released swords down in Tasmania, up to 400 kilos, and the distance they’ve traveled in 250 days, absolutely mind blowing.
But when we do lose a sword or we decide to eat one, I like to cut its stomach open and look at the contents, and they love eating blue grenadier and all those deep water fish. Paul Worsteling: The bite, it is uncanny.
It is literally like this, tap, tap at times, and a 400 kilo fish can bite like this. If you got the rod lift up, that can be a bite as well. If the line goes slack, just start winding, pick up the slack, because when the fish feels that hook in the mouth, he quite often comes to the top for a look.
And if you’re going to fish for swords, be prepared to be in for the long haul. Some of these fights, in the last two months alone, have gone up to 23 and a half hours. That’s right, 23 and a half hours fighting a fish, and I think that fish was only around 250 kilos.
They are super tough. Average fight time, seriously, one to three hours, but you could be in there for a long time, so make sure you’ve got the guns pumped before you go swordfishing. Paul Worsteling: My hotspots for swordfishing around Australia would definitely be St Helens, Tasmania; Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania; Busselton, Western Australia; and Exmouth, absolutely incredible; and the sneaky one at the moment, don’t forget Lakes Entrance in Victoria.
Every state in Australia holds swords except Northern Territory, and I bet there’s a few sneaking out there as well. Paul Worsteling: So my advice, do the research, hit the shelf, find some swordfish, Xiphias gladius.
When you catch one of these beasts, when you see it’s not a unicorn, it actually lives, it’ll blow your mind.