John, Terry and I had been fishing together for years and were actually quite a successful team. Whether we were chasing seatrout on the flats or blackfin tuna on the edge, we always came home with fresh fish and a few funny stories. Our families were always ecstatic with the tasty fillets and it became an expectation for us to bring home dinner. I don’t know what it was about the three of us, but with our powers combined the fish had no chance. That is until we started targeting swordfish.
While none of us had ever been swordfishing, we did the research and spent time in local tackle shops in an effort to uncover a few insider tips. Even though swordfish are traditionally caught at night, we decided that sleepless evenings on the edge of the Gulf Stream wouldn’t fare well with our wives. We decided to try our luck with the newly developed daytime fishery.
With reports of big catches up and down the coast we geared up for a day on the water. After a few minor issues and avoidable screw-ups, we ended our first day fishless, but with a much greater understanding of the task in front of us. Although every boat around us landed at least one fish we didn’t make too much of an issue about it. Bruised but not beaten we chalked up the goose egg as a learning experience and went home for burgers and dogs.
Unfortunately, the next 11 trips played out with the same results and it became a joke amongst our families and friends that we had a serious swordfish curse. The first few of these so-called “cursed” trips were highlighted by premature releases and lost terminal tackle. Pulled hooks and propeller fouls freed the next few and not believing in luck or superstitions, we brushed it off once again.
I’m not sure why we kept trying, but for some reason we couldn’t get enough. At work we became the butt of everyone’s jokes, and at home our wives and children starting to think we didn’t like them and simply used swordfishing as an excuse to get out of the house and drink beer.
Although we couldn’t land a single swordfish to save our lives, broadbills were always on the brain and we pleaded with our wives to let us make one more attempt.
“Honey, I promise! I’ll bring home swordfish for dinner. If not, I won’t go fishing for a month! Saturdays will be spent at Bed Bath & Beyond and IKEA…whatever you want!” Clearly I was desperate and delusional, but even more idiotic was the fact that I actually thought we had a chance of catching one.
However, it wasn’t until the last trip when we all realized there is, in fact, a higher power. When the day finally came we geared up and made the long run offshore. On our way out we noticed a well-formed weedline but didn’t stop because there was a much larger target in our crosshairs. Upon reaching the sword grounds the ocean was alive with skipjack and flying fish breaking the surface.
We deployed our first bait without incident and after only a few minutes into the drift, the tip started to bounce. The line came tight and to our amazement we were hooked up! We worked the reel and had the fish coming to the boat after a long stalemate. We were approaching the wind-on leader after a grueling three hour battle when the fish broke the surface. The massive broadbill jumped clear out of the water and time literally stood still. We were in shock as we finally got a clear look at our prize. We had finally conquered adversity!
As soon as the gigantic fish looked back at us, our taught line instantly went limp. For no apparent reason our prize had escaped. Absolutely heartbroken, it is now true without a shadow of doubt that we are cursed…and I’ll be spending Saturday assembling a bathroom armoire.