Large or small, encountering a billfish is one of angling’s most sought after sights, and you should consider yourself lucky when you see one — especially if you spot one that’s smaller than your pinkie finger.
That’s exactly what Richard Brackett found in his transom lights while swordfishing in his home waters off Charleston, South Carolina.
“My boss, Joey Cagle, and I decided to run out to swordfish for a couple hours, so we left about noon and trolled from 200 feet straight out to the deep to see what we would come across on the way,” Brackett says. “We had a pretty good day and ended up going one for two on sails and had a couple other bites. Once the sun started to set, we set up for a drift. After an hour or so, I saw what we thought to be a juvenile sailfish in the transom lights. Being such a last-minute trip, I forgot the dip net, so I had to resort to option two. I filled a bucket with water, opened the transom door and scooped him up with my hands and set him in the bucket. I have to say, even at this small size, they are crazy aggressive. I got him in my hands in the bucket to snap a quick picture, so we could release it as quickly as possible.”
While this fish wasn’t exactly a line screamer, it was an unforgettable catch, as well as hope for the future. Who knows, perhaps one day the fish will grow to trophy proportions.
According to The Billfish Foundation, "Many thought the picture [Brackett] submitted shows a sailfish due to the 'sailfish-like' dorsal fin but blue marlin also have a 'sail' early in life. Eventually it recedes and their bill grows out. Sailfish can be easily distinguished due to their dorsal AND bill."
Learn more about research from The Billfish Foundation at www.billfish.org.