Broad Daylight Heartbreak

We hammered down the throttle in the pitch black, leaving Destin, Florida in the rearview mirror. The 2:00am wake-up call caught up to me and I took a spot in a comfy oversized marine bean bag in the bow of the boat and dozed off as images of monster swordfish swirled around my head. I perked my head up as we eased off the throttles and looked up to what I consider a masterful painting by the good Man upstairs. Our crew of five took a few minutes to admire the sunset before putting our first lines out for the day.


Sixty miles off, the sun rise can make you feel some kind of way. We slowed down to a nice and steady drift, so that we could deploy our first bait for the target species: a sword fish in the daytime. These fish descend to depths of thousands of feet during the day, so we slowly deployed a bait down to the depths in hopes of pulling up a sea monster.


We drifted for two hours on the first drop without so much as a nibble. Daytime sword fishing is a game of cat and mouse, where you have to intently watch the rod for any sign of a nibble. Anything that disrupted the normal ebb and flow of the rod tip with the waves, even slightly, could be a signal that there was a sword playing with the bait over a thousand feet below the boat.

After hand-cranking the thousand feet of line back on the reel, we eased the boat back to the original spot that we started at and made our second drift. The swords started testing our patience and the longer we went without a bite the louder the music got and the more beer that started coming out of the cooler. By 10:00am we were absolutely wired with a combination of coffee, beer, and Zac Brown Band. It was then that the rod tip twitched twice and then came tight for a few brief seconds.

Pandemonium erupted on the boat as we worked to get a hook in the fish. We reeled hard, put the boat in gear, and readied to fight the fish. The fish started peeling off drag for the first minute into the fight, then like a traditional swordfish, started headed for the surface. At some point between pulling drag and headed for the surface we had heartbreak worse than your first high school breakup and pulled the hooks on the fish.

We took some time to regroup to figure out what went wrong, then deployed baits two more times with no dice. After cutting our losses on daytime swordfishing, we pointed the boat back north and stopped to grab some groceries on the way home.

Steven Vanden Heuvel