Swordfish Fishing Techniques
Casting top water lures to pelagic fish which are aggressively feeding on the surface is an unparalleled thrill in the world of sportfishing. Predatory fish which actively feed on surface baits are ferociously powerful and often attracted to the “injured” motion a lure can present when skipping across the surface. This fishing style requires long distance casting and rapid retrieval of large lures – making use of heavy duty spinning tackle which can withstand immense pressure. Many pelagic species caught at the surface can be extremely acrobatic once hooked. Watching a “fired up” fish charge a surface lure is an incredible experience that should not be missed.
The traditional style of creating a “chum line” of chunk baits is commonly used around oil rigs, pumping stations, and drill ships to attract a variety of pelagic species. This is essentially “hand lining” for deep water species, which requires the angler to pull 3 to 4 foot segments of line off the reel at a time, allowing the rigged bait to float with the current. This technique requires some practice, but is incredibly effective when fish are feeding in the top level of the water column. Once a fish strikes the bait, the angler must “lock up” the drag smoothly and swiftly, in order to allow a circle hook to set. With patience and dedication, almost any angler can master this technique.
Tried and true, trolling for pelagic species requires deploying artificial or rigged dead baits and dragging them behind the boat at varying speeds. This can be a highly effective method for enticing large pelagic predators to bite, and is usually employed during specific weather conditions, or when fishing around oil rigs or pumping stations. Occasionally, slow trolling live baits which are specially bridled can produce bites when tunas are not actively feeding.
This is the preferred method for catching larger pelagic species. When fishing out of Venice, LA – mullet, pogies, threadfin herring, hardtails, and small tunas are exceptional live baits if properly rigged. There is no more effective technique to entice a large pelagic fish to feed than by presenting a frisky live bait at the surface. Catching live bait, depending on the time of year, can be a “must” before heading offshore. Live bait is typically caught by throwing a cast net, or by using a sabiki rig. You will never find yourself in a situation where having live bait isn’t a decisive advantage when targeting pelagic species.
The most physically demanding of all fishing techniques, this requires the use of heavy lead jigs that are specifically designed to sink fast and reach fish several hundred feet down. The angler must rapidly retrieve the jig while creating a “fluttering” motion with the rod – this mimics the behavior of a bait fish fleeing to the surface. Vertical Jigging can be the most effective method for catching fish which are holding tight to structure, deep beneath the waves.