Night Time Swordfishing Tips and Tricks

Night time swordfish charter in Miami

It’s a spectacular feeling to catch your first swordfish on the night drift. If you’re lucky, calm seas and moonlight make for an epic back drop to what is surely one of the fiercest pelagic battles you can hope to endure. While its common to get several bites during the course of a night time sword trip – what really matters is staying tight on the fish…and that’s easier said then done.

I’ve been fishing for swordfish in Miami waters since 2005. Since that time, i’ve made enough mistakes and lost enough fish to learn several valuable lessons I thought I’d share with you today. Swordfishing – day time or night time – ain’t easy.  In fact, its one of the most difficult and costly forms of fishing you can undertake.  That being said, there is no greater thrill than learning the art and bringing that fat broadbill in the boat when all is said and done.

Night Time Swordfishing Tips and Techniques – How to Catch Swordfish at Night

If you’re reading this, you may have already made a trip or two on your own and realized something wasn’t right.  No bites? Pulled the hook too many times? Rigging got fouled?  yeah.  I’ve been there.  Anyone who swordfishes on a regular basis knows the sting of defeat is more common than the taste of victory (which tastes like blackened swordfish steaks). My goal here is to clarify the following so you’re well armed to head offshore and catch a swordfish under the night sky:

  • Gear and Tackle
  • Rigging and Bait
  • The Spread and Strategy
  • Landing the Fish
  • Safety

There are several other guides on the internet which I feel are top quality, and i’ll provide links to those at the end of this article. For now, grab a rum drink and pay attention. Here’s most of the key lessons i’ve learned about fishing for swordfish at night off Miami and Boca Raton.

Night Time Swordfish Gear and Tackle

Now you have to realize, swordfish are powerful predators.  They are one of the strongest and fastest fish in the ocean.  They are also the only fish which can swim from 2000 ft to 20 ft…and back down again, without any metabolic impact. They are almost pure muscle besides their giant bony head, which means they can direct a ton of force to their oversized caudal fin and burn any ill equipped angler in a few seconds. If you’re targeting swordfish by night drifting, you have to be committed to investing in good gear.  Anything less will leave you busted and frustrated. Think of it this way – you spent the money on your boat (or maybe your friend did), fuel, insurance, trailer, docking, shoes for the wife or girlfriend (to make up for your prolonged absence at sea), and a crap load of beer. To chase swordfish with crap equipment is like trying to hunt white tail bucks with a sling shot.  You might get a shot off – but you won’t make a dent!

Essentially, you need the following equipment to make this trip happen:


We fish Penn International Reels and Shimano Tiagra Reels – but you don’t have to.  Having the extra drag power and durable frame makes a big difference when you’re big game fishing. Okuma and Daiwa also make decent big game reels that are less painful on your wallet…but if you’re going all the way and taking this seriously – buy Penn or Shimano.  I recommend a 50W or 70VS Penn International for night time fishing or a Tiagra 50.  You can get away with a big TLD or a Titus, but you may quickly regret your decision if a slob sucks down a squid off the tip rod.  If you can’t afford a new international or tiagra, spend the time combing ebay and the marine flea markets in south florida.  You will find a deal…just be patient. Fixing the drag on an international isn’t all that hard and most reel shops in the area can do this for you. You can also send your reel directly to Penn or Shimano and they will recondition to factory specs. Make sure when you buy used reels ****READ THIS **** – i’ll say again…make sure when you buy a used reel that you check the drag before you buy.  Know what you’re getting into and realize that you GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.  Do not buy reels from charter boats that have been beat to hell – buy them from a recreational swordfisherman who gave up!  😉


This is a critical part of the formula.  Swordfish are strong as hell and they will break cheap rods.  I’ve seen it.  It’s hilarious and awesome…but you don’t want to go through it.  Bass Pro specials won’t cut it.  West marine rods won’t cut it (tidewaters suck). Penn stand up combos in the 60 – 80lb class or custom rods from your local shop are the way to go.  I’m a huge fan of Key Largo Custom Rods, Capt Harrys Custom Rods, Biscayne Rods, and Penn Rods.  There are dozens upon dozens of rod manufacturers out there and every one will tell you theirs is “the best”.  Get a bent butt (short butt style) set up ready for a stand up harness.  That’s the best way to go in my opinion. Bent butts are also easier to fish from rod holders while you’re drifting and you can put significant pressure on the fish once you transition to the harness.  It’s also easy to find big game bent butts matched with reels as sets online.  Spend the time to shop around.  But, if you want to spoil yourself and invest in your passion for night time swordfishing – get a custom rod with your name on it.  It makes a difference when its your name on the line.  😛

Braided Line

Do not fish monofilament for swordfish. Im sure i’ll get haters coming out of the wood work to attack me for this recommendation…but don’t do it. When you fish braid, there’s no stretch in the line which means more pressure and better shot at a strong hook set.  Your wind on leader is what should serve as the shock cord in this instance. You need as much muscle power on these fish as you can muster and braided line is better for fishing deep baits (it cuts through the water). I recommend tuff line first and foremost or jerry brown hollowcore. 80# or 100#.  Either way you win.  I like to use white colored line because I can see it better in the spreader lights.  Dark lines disappear in low light conditions. Put a mono backing on the reel and then load that bad boy up with braid.  Put in a loop and use a cats paw to connect your wind -on leader. I wrote an in-depth post about making wind – on leaders which is basically everything you need to get started.


Use a wind-on leader.  Again, i’m sure hundreds of professional fishermen will disagree and have their own methods…but this is how the best swordfishermen I know haul these monsters in on a consistent basis.  A wind on leader allows you to fight the fish directly to the boat, and it makes a difference when you’re setting out or retrieving the spread.  It’s all about efficiency and durability of the gear – your leader is a critical ingredient so don’t skimp. Use LP leader material or Mamoi – pick your fancy on the strength (minimum 200#).  IGFA rules are a little different, so if you’re a purist be sure to read up on the regulations. Otherwise, bigger is better.

Swivels, Crimps, Connections, Loops, zip ties, long line clips, etc

Use good quality crimps for your leader connections.  Buy a commercial crimping tool so you can really lock down the connections.  It would be stupid to have a crimp pull on a big fish because you bought cheap bass pro crimps instead of Sampo or LP. Buy good swivels -bearing packed barrel swivels or snap swivels will work just fine – just don’t buy bill fisher or el-cheapo.  Invest in good swivels and terminal tackle and you’ll be glad you did when the time comes.  There are some great crimping kits for sale online so spend the time to shop around. Make sure every crimp, loop to loop, splice, or swivel are in good condition…if it doesn’t look right…it isn’t.  Make it again or get another one. You should invest in a splicing kit if you plan on making lots of swordfish leaders.  They’re not cheap but it’s more cost effective in the long haul than buying wind ons from the store.  It’s also a great feeling when you land a swordfish on a wind-on leader that you made.

You’re going swordfishing – so think like a commercial swordfishermen.  You’ll need long line clips, zip ties (assorted sizes), thick rubber bands, wax thread, a file, a good bait knife, rigging needles, tape, wire ties, and a headlamp.  🙂  Buy the best quality you can afford, in bulk if possible.

Pro tip: Buy a line counter so you can tell how deep your baits are on the fly.


I hate buying lead but its a necessary evil. It gets more expensive every time i go to the store and its the same damn material it was 20 years ago. Market prices are a pain but it is what it is.  You need it.  Stock up on a selection of 24oz, 32oz, and 4 lb stick leads. Being able to set your bait at depth and keep it there in the current is critical. I attach my weights in a variety of ways depending on the conditions…but i’m a big fan of suspending them beneath the light with a super strong rubber band.  That way its easy clip on and clip off the line when you’ve got a fish. I’ve also used long line clips tied to the weight with braided line.  It really depends on the rig you’re using in regards to where the weight is placed on the line…but either way you need to be able to remove the weight fumble free when the pressure is on.  Long line clips are great for this.  I’ve seen guys use zip ties, wire ties, even hair ties to make this happen – but i’m a fan of clip on, clip off.  Easy and fumble free every time.  AND you’re less likely to lose an expensive piece of lead to the abyss.


I’m not sure who came up with this phrase, might have been Bouncer Smith who solidified it for me, but “no light, no bite!”.  There are dozens of lights on the market – but you should invest in LP electralumes and Duralite Diamond flashers. You will also need a swordlight – I use hydraglow but I don’t recommend them because they break all the damn time.  Find a solid, sturdy, and shock resistant fishing light in green or violet.  I’ve seen alot of boats fishing blue recently…but swords see contrast and are sensitive to light…they bask from time to time and anything that casts a bright hue is probably a good thing. I’m a big fan of the slow color changing LP electralumes, although i’ve had bites on all kinds of colors. I am bias towards the green lights as I think they are more closely representative of bioluminescence…but hey. Its up to you.  You will need lots of cyalume green glow sticks for your buoys so you can see them in the dark.


This is a subject of mass debate among swordfishermen.  I’m partial to what the commercial guys use…and also what the BnM boys use. LP 9/0 offset J Hooks, Mustad J Hooks, Jobu Big Game are pretty much the make it or break it selections. LP hooks are super sturdy carbon steel and razor sharp – but not as sharp as the Jobu.  Mustad is tried and true.  My recommendation – buy all of them.  Match the hook to the bait you’re using – i prefer to rig squids with mustads and bridle live baits with LPs. Jobus are great for whole fish like mullett, bonita strips, or lady fish. Don’t go overboard here – you’ll go through hooks but not as many as you think.  More often than not you won’t get cut off, the hook will pull…and big game hooks are not cheap. Choose but choose wisely – just buy quality.

Todd Malicoat Fighting a Swordfish off Miami

Todd Malicoat Fighting a Fiesty Swordfish off Miami

Fighting Belt and Stand Up Harness

You’re in for the battle of your life, so make sure you have a decent stand up harness.  There are dozens of these on the market.  I like Aftco and Black Magic. I’ll leave this one up to you, but make sure its not a cheap belt.  I witnessed a harness fall apart from corrosion while a friend was fighting a swordfish a few years ago…he thought it was a practical joke but it was just shitty gear.  We wound up having to fight the fish from the rod holder because the harness wound up in shreds. Not funny at the time…well, actually…yeah it was funny at the time.  But I would never want that to happen to me. You might also want to bring a thin foam pad to put under the thigh brace – if you’re in for a long fight that belt will get raw on your legs since you’ll likely be wearing a pair of boardshorts.

Buy or make safety lines for all your rods (clip them to cleates on the boat) and one for you. Even the pros run the risk of getting pulled overboard.

Landing Gear and Implements of Destruction for Night Time Swordfishing

I’ll never forget the first time i went night time swordfishing.  I walked onto the dock behind my friend’s house and could not believe how much gear was laying on the deck.  The first thing to catch my eye, besides the shining set of Penn 50 Internationals – was the assortment of gaffs, harpoons, hooks, lancing instruments, a sword (yeah right? wtf?), a bat (metal louisville slugger) and a set of knives. I was shocked. Of particular interest was the flying gaff big enough to land jaws – I couldn’t believe it was a potentially necessary piece of gear.  Damn was it ever. Buy Aftco gaffs – they’re sturdy and true. Get a decent harpoon from your local outfitter and make sure its rigged with a brass dart crimped to a steel leader.  Get plenty of harpoon line and a buoy.  If you’ve never used a harpoon before…its awesome…but learn the tricks to rigging it quick so you can deploy it in a matter of minutes.  Most fish are lost at the boat and the harpoon can be the upper hand you need to succeed. It may not be IGFA legal…but this is meat fishing and not every night is a tournament. Make sure you have a flying gaff, long gaff, and a back up gaff.  I do recommend you bring a machete – but that’s to fend off pirates or cut through fins so you can jam the core in the fish box. Remember – these fish don’t like being caught and most of them are lost at the boat. They will not be happy when they see you and hear you screaming – gaff in the head and tail as quick as you can and pull them to the side of the boat – but landing swordfish is a lesson i believe is earned…it’s a terrifying experience the first two or three times you sink a gaff into a big fish that ain’t quite ready…so go enjoy yourself but remember – that fish would kill you if it could. Be careful.


This should technically go under the spread section of this article, but i’m putting it here because you need to make these. You can use milk jugs, balloons, or pool noodles to make your buoys – but make sure you can quickly attach and remove them from the line. I’m a big fan of the empty screw cap water jug with two glow sticks inside.  This acts like a floating lantern, but sometimes its hard to see at night between the waves. A zip tie around the handle will quickly attach to your rubber band in the line. If you’re feeling inventive and crafty, buy a few pool noodles and be creative about placing a piece of PVC inside so you can attach a glow stick at the top and a long line clip at the bottom. Pool Noodle buoys stand up-right in the waves, which makes them easy to see at night. There’s a variety of designs out there for this, but being inventive like this is more fun.

Sea Anchor

You will definitely need one of these.  I made the mistake of buying crap sea anchors for years and i’ve paid the price.  They are not cheap, but get the best and BIGGEST (within reason) one you can afford.  You’ll be glad you did. This is a critical instrument in positioning the boat and keeping your spread organized.  Your boat will spin without this piece of equipment and your lines will tangle.  The speed of your drift is also very important – gotta keep it between 2 and 3 knots – although sometimes a fast drift helps to cover more ground when the fish are scattered. Paratech is the way to go if you can afford it.

Rigging Baits for Night Time Swordfishing

The most important part of your rig is your bait.  Without good bait – you will do no damage.  As you’re learning, alot of things have to come together to make a successful night time swordfishing mission…and the bait is no exception. Rotting squid won’t cut it. Do your best to stock up on frozen or fresh squids which are still in-tact and clean. Baitmasters provides really top notch squid on a consistent basis and most tackle shops in the south florida area carry them.  You can also order them online un-rigged in a variety of sizes. Live bait, if available, is great for fishing at depths of 300 ft or shallower. Live goggle eyes, big blue runners, or tinker mackerel can make a world of difference – but for the most part, squids are the bait of choice for drift fishing.  They can be rigged in a variety of ways, but they present naturally at any depth if set up properly. Squid is also the main food source for swordfish, although they will eat anything.  Whole fresh lady fish are also a terrific bait because they shine in low light conditions and flop along well at depth if sewn together properly.

Once you’ve secured fresh unspoiled squid – make sure to thaw them out in a salty brine. A bag of ice, bucket of water, and 1/4 can of salt is all you need. By thawing squids in salt brine, they retain their natural muscle and don’t thin out – it keeps the bait firm during rigging and while you’re enroute to the sword grounds. Since rigging squids is a topic which has been widely covered by dozens of top notch anglers, here’s a few links to some of the best resources i’ve found on the subject:

Again – there are dozens of ways to do this effectively.  Find a method that works for you but presents the bait naturally. I am a fan of crimping the hook onto the leader and placing a small glow bead just above the crimp. Sew the head of the squid onto the mantle gently but firmly.  I run two cross stitches through the head and back through, snugging the head up into the mantle just a bit. Lay the hook along the mantle to make sure it sits high on the bait with the bead gently pulled into the top of the mantle for stability once placed.  Cut a 1/4in hole in the mantle where the bend should reside, thread the leader inside and along the mantle then out through the tip. Pull the leader all the way through until the bead is sung (not super snug) inside the mantle.  Put one or two stitches across the flap of the mantle down through the eye of the hook if you want to be an over achiever.
How to rig a squid for swordfish

A reliable squid rig technique

Rig enough squids to put your spread out two or three times without having to stop and rig baits. Its much easier to rig your baits on land than it is at night time in a rolling sea. Make sure to keep your leaders wound and tied up with twistix so they don’t tangle.  Efficiency is everything in swordfishing, so make sure to keep your baits ready for deployment. Keep all rigged baits on ice or in a salty brine until you’re ready to use them.  The firmer they are when they hit the water, the better. Don’t fish with frozen baits otherwise they will spin and drift around funny in the water.


The Spread and Strategy for Night Time Swordfishing

Putting out the spread is the point of the operation that will make or break you. This is a process which needs to be done quickly and efficiently. We typically fish four or five rods when we’re drifting at night, and here’s essentially how we do it (less one or two proprietary tricks – charter us and we’ll show you).


The goal is to fish the entire water column without tangling your lines. Make sure to check the set of your drift once you’ve stopped running.  Get a feel for the current and determine how your boat swings with the sea anchor deployed.  You will be drifting north and your lines will carry away from the boat faster because they are unhindered by drag. Some fish the sea anchor off the side of the boat, we typically deploy the bag off the bow of the boat because of the way our hull swings in the current.


Once you’re drifting safely to the north and the boat has come tight on the sea anchor, deploy your swordlight and get ready to set out your first line.  Use a line counter and set your first rod anywhere from 200 ft to 300ft. Squid over the side, let it carry away from the boat, place your light wherever you want, clip the weight to the splice in your wind-on or to a loop farther up the line if you prefer. We have begun attaching the weight to the light and keeping them together. Once your bait has hit depth, wrap a heavy rubber band in the line by winding it around the line then pulling each end through – clip on the buoy and drop it in the water.  It will rocket away from the boat if there’s strong current while it catches up to the weight. Make sure your buoy doesn’t slide around on the line – this is very important. Move the rod to a bow holder and clip on the safety line. Let the line out far enough to stagger two other buoy lines.  Repeat this process until you have baits set between 200 – 300ft,  400 – 600 ft, and 600 – 800ft.  The last line to go in the water is what most anglers call the “tip” rod.  This is a bait you will constantly move up and down in the water column in hopes of catching a passing swordfish lurking beneath the boat.
night time swordfish spread example

One of many ways to deploy a night time swordfish spread


Congrats!  You’re now swordfishing. Check your lines constantly to make sure drags are set properly.  Now, on the subject of drag tension. This is a huge topic of debate for many anglers.  Some prefer to keep their drags loose – just a click or two above free spool so a fish can run with the bait and you can hear him take it. Others prefer to keep the drag on strike so the fish will come tight faster and be more likely to get a decent hookset by dragging the weight along while pulling the slack out of the line. My best advice – trust your instincts.  Would you rather let the fish eat and then lock up the drag once they’re running – risking pulling the hook once it comes tight? Or would you rather have pressure off the bat and come tight quick?  Again – a subject of debate.  We keep our drags half way between free spool and strike… enough tension to prevent the line from dragging out…not too much pressure on the fish after he eats the bait. Depending on current and conditions, we mix it up.  We keep the tip rod set just tight enough so line can slip off the reel with each rise and fall of the waves.  This seems to work pretty well.


Drift over your target area for 30 minutes at a time.  If you don’t get a bite, pick up the spread and reset.  Some anglers prefer to run way south and make one long drift…i’ve had better experience picking areas which have strong contour and working them several times.  Swordfish like structure on the bottom, so take that into consideration when you decide where you plan to fish. There isn’t very dramatic bottom contour off Miami and Ft. lauderdale – compared to islamorada that is. There are definitely fish in the area year round…but they do move around quite a bit and will favor different depths and contour depending on the time of the year. It will take some experimentation to get it right…but hey.  That’s fishing.  Make sure you’re fishing in at least 1200 feet of water.  We typically do not fish deeper than 1800 feet at night time and have caught fish as shallow as 1050. Use google earth or any decent topographical map to get a sense of the area.  There’s also a handy swordfish map for sale here which will give you a couple trust starting points.


You will get frustrated from time to time – and may wind up making many trips without so much as hooking a fish. Stay at it and be persistent. Perfect the craft, fish with lots of different people (everyone has their own tricks of the trade) and develop a system that works for you. Each time you head out swordfishing you will learn something new about the sport…you will make mistakes and learn lessons frequently. Maintain your rigs, use good bait, and really study the countour of the bottom.  Mark spots which look like cliffs or holes – swordfish are mostly bottom feeders during the day and they behave like any pelagic predator – they leverage structure to trap and hunt prey.


I advise against making one long drift over the course of the night. Plot your course well in advance of the trip.  I usually run way south and drift over areas I know hold fish one or two times – that way by the end of the night i’ve drifted within proximity of the port I will be returning to.  These fish move around frequently, so don’t get stuck on an idea that fish only hang out in one area.  Don’t be shy about exploring new grounds and testing different depths in the process.  As long as you’re working the entire water column with good bait and strong rigs…you’ve got just as much of a chance as everyone else.


Once you hook a fish – scream loudly to get yourself amped up then clear the spread as quickly, but efficiently, as you can.  Don’t have a panic attack. Repeat – don’t get your hopes up just yet.  Catching the fish is still a long ways off and you’ve got a fight on your hands.  The trick is not to foul any of the other gear and swordfish are programmed to fly through your spread and tangle everything line in the water. Get the lines out quick but don’t foul them in the process.  Once lines are in – get it done and stay nimble with the throttle.


Landing A Swordfish at Night

So you got one on, didn’t pull the hook, and actually got him to the boat!  Awesome! Now’s where it all comes together. This is the most nerve wracking and risky part of the entire operation because swordfish make sporadic movements and they don’t want to get stuck with sharp objects.  Too much pressure on the leader, a whiffed gaff shot, a rogue wave…everything can go wrong. The best thing to keep in mind when boating a swordfish is – KEEP CALM.  While your hands may be shaking and your heart may be pounding, do the best you can to stay cool and keep a level head.  Reflexes are a large part of this game, so stay nimble, pay attention, and dont screw around. Swordfish are dangerous and if you get them to the boat quick they may still be very green (or purple for that matter). Be prepared for the fish to make another run or a dash for the props.  I’ll reiterate that…be prepared for the fish to make a dash for your props.  I think swordfish are taught to swim for the props at a young age…for some reason the entire species knows this trick.


Anyway, you’ve got the fish on the leader and he’s tired.  Not dead yet…tired.  Pull him to you, he will not swim to you.  Do not take big wraps on the leader because he can wake up and dive with every last ounce of strength.  Palm the leader while wearing gloves and pull him broadside to the boat. It helps if you bump the boat in and out of gear so you’re moving ahead.  This will keep the fish parallel to the boat while you’re preparing to kill.  If he’s in visual range but just out of gaff range, consider tossing the poon.  Aim for just behind the gill plate – thats a kill shot for sure…but any hit with the harpoon will give you the upper hand.  If the fish is on the surface, he should be easy for you to hit.  If he’s down deep, get over top and slam that harpoon down with all you’ve got.  If you miss, bring it back up quick and try again.  If he’s close by for the gaff, hit him in front of the dorsal fin so you can control the fish when it freaks out.  If you have two gaffs handy – sink one near his head and the other in the mid section.  Now you’ve got him restrained from the head and the broad piece of the tail.  The fish will likely freak out or just lay over dead…either way…once you stick the gaff…DO NOT START CELEBRATING.  Wait for the fish to die and then prepare to pull him on board.  For most recreational swordfishermen, you’re not rocking a sport fisher – likely a center console with outboards. You have to bring the fish over the side of the boat. Leave the gaff in the fish, bend it along his back and try to lay it as parallel to the bill as you can.  Grab his bill and the gaff simultaneously and pull. Make sure you and whoever else is with you is helping. work together.  Talk out loud as you move so your colleague knows what going on. Teamwork is essential when dragging a slob in the boat, so stay in constant communication.  Make sure to get the tail in the boat as well or that fish may flop his way back into the ocean and take your gaffs with him. Once the entire fish is in the boat – freakout!  You did it!  Total victory and you earned it!


Its up to you whether to leave the fish whole or to core him out while you’re at sea.  I prefer to do my slicing at the dock, but sometimes we remove the bill so we can keep the fish on Ice in the box till we get home. If its a big fish, put ice bags all over him or cover it with towels.  Time to make the run back and celebrate.


Safety while Fishing at Night

A few notes on safety while night time swordfishing.  Let’s be real for a minute. This is a dangerous activity.  We may think its just fishing, but bear this in mind:
  • You are offshore in the dark
  • You are trusting your bilge pumps, engines, and wiring with your life
  • Alot of things could go wrong at any minute
  • You are operating in extremely restricted visibility and likely in rough water
  • It’s an exhausting endeavor and you may not be mentally as sharp as you were at the office
  • There’s usually beer or rum involved
  • Swordfish have very sharp unforgiving bills which can cut you BAD
  • Seatow is not coming to get you if you break down 20 miles offshore
  • You may be boarded by the USCG or homeland security
  • Weather can appear at any time…at any moment…fiercely
  • There are many sharp objects on the boat
  • You’re pretty much on your own out there
With that being said – use good judgement and think everything through. I’m somewhat OCD as it is, but I like to make extensive checklists before I depart for a trip.  When I set out for a sword trip, my mind descends into madness as a flurry of questions cascade through my conscience: Is my safety gear up to snuff? Does my radio work? Oil levels in the engines ok?  Does someone I trust know when i’m supposed to be back? Does my cellphone have battery? Are there lifejackets on the boat? Is there water on the boat? Do the bilge pumps work? Do we have enough gas? Is there an EPIRB on board? How well do I know the people i’m fishing with?


After awhile, you’ll get the routine down. But it’s the ocean and a bad situation can get REALLY bad REALLy fast. As a charter Captain, i’m responsible for the safety and well being of everyone on board my vessel – so there’s a little more pressure involved besides just fishing. But you get used to it – use the best judgement you can and never take unnecessary risks. One of my favorite political quotes of all time is “fail to plan, plan to fail” and I think that holds true in recreational swordfishing. If you’re like me, you’ll probably spend days, weeks, and months stewing about how to catch swordfish consistently, but it all comes together if you take the time to educate yourself about the sport. There are dozens of solid resources online about swordfishing, and a proper community has evolved around the sport in south florida. Do the best you can to network and get out on the water as much as possible.  Gas is expensive…and if you’re willing to pay for it you will make friends fast. Bring a skill set to the table as well…no one likes fishing with complete newbs…but even if you’re an aspiring swordfishermen, that doesn’t mean you don’t have years of sea or angling experience under your belt. Be honest about what you know because when someone hands you a rig you don’t know how to finish, it can cost the entire crew the fish of a lifetime.  Ask questions persistently and you will learn.


At the end of the day, you can read all you want and watch instructional videos till your eyes bleed, but there’s no substitute for experience on the water. Get out there and push yourself to succeed.  The swordfish population off Miami is still strong despite heavy over fishing, but you might just be lucky enough to pull one in the boat now and then.


Welcome to your new addiction.


Tight Lines,


Capt. Charlie Ellis


Awesome Night Time Swordfishing Resources




Capt. Charlie Ellis

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Captain at Miami Fishing Charters LLC
Capt. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Bluefin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks. Capt. Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur.
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