Swordfishing is hot right now in southern Australia, with some truly monstrous broadbills being landed on a regular basis. This is the remarkable story of one such fish, the pending Australian all-tackle record, as told by Hotshot Charters first mate Tara Thompson-Disnard.
We decided to make a move with Hotshot Charters from the Gold Coast of Australia to the colder waters well south in Lakes Entrance, some 850 miles away, to try our hand at swordfishing. On April 29, we threw the dock lines at 3:30 a.m. and ran about 50 nautical miles offshore in beautiful weather, arriving at the fishing grounds around 7 a.m. After spending the first hour looking at bait schools on the sounder, we made our first drop without success. And our second. And third. Anyone who’s spent time fishing knows you don’t always strike gold right away.
We were on our fifth drop of the day at a little after 4 o’clock when we saw a tap on the rod tip, followed by another tap. Matthew Boyle jumped on the reel and started to wind up slowly until we got that beautiful bend in the rod; finally, we were tight to a big swordfish.
Matty hooked the fish on a Shimano Tiagra 80 with braid backing and a 300-foot top shot of IGFA-rated 80-pound-test Stren monofilament. He fought the fish from the chair using a Seamount bucket harness. Within 20 minutes, we had the fish to the surface just 50 yards away, but the swordfish headed right back into the depths. Matty gave me a look of determination and said, “I want this fish,” and so began the dance we would play well into the evening.
Just before sunset, the big swordfish made a dash to the surface, and again we had the mono top shot on the reel. It made a magnificent full-body jump, backlit by the setting sun. It was one of those sights that is burned into your memory for life, but before we could get the leader, the fish once again took every bit of line out on another long run.
Our captain, Craig “Sparra” Denham, did an amazing job of getting the stubborn fish back to the surface. At the three-and-a-half-hour mark, we had our first shot at the leader, but the fish was by no means tired yet. As I grabbed the leader, it bolted away once again and we had a good look at its real size, which we guessed at 500 to 600 pounds. After five and a half hours, we had another shot at the leader, and it took another 45 minutes for us to boat the massive swordfish, as Davo Davidson put in the first gaff and Mark Provis followed with another. At the scales, the fish weighed 769.5 pounds, and it is the pending Australian all-tackle record. This was truly a fish of a lifetime for everyone involved.