Swordfish: Are they really that picky? - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 09-19-2010, 09:56 AM   #1
JMB
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Default Swordfish: Are they really that picky?

I've been wondering this a lot lately (especially since we have not been fishing much this year, thanks BP)....are swordfish really that picky?

I have read and heard much about how important a finely prepared "fresh" "food quality" squid is "mandatory" to catch swords.

After watching Swords Life on the Line, seeing that they basically put less effort in to baiting and prep than most white trout fisherman on the 3MB, if we are all putting too much effort in to bait these things.

Not to say no effort - but less effort. A few articles I have seen recently read talk about using fresh dead butterflied baits (any fish; hardtail, dolphin, skipjack, etc.) or belly baits with skirts over them. This to me seems like less effort and better durabilty. Squid are delicate, messy, and not able to withstand much abuse above or below the water. Not to mention expensive.

I think I am done with squid, unless I catch some fresh ones on the grounds.

Any thoughts from anyone with real expeirence (Chris V, Downtime, etc.)?
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:52 AM   #2
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If I'm not mistaken, swords have hit every type of bait we've ever tried. Dead macks to 3' dyed squid and even live bait. If they are there, they'll eat.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:16 AM   #3
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Squid out of the boxes you can buy anywhere work fine. I have done it with the fancy rigging and also just putting a couple smaller squids on the hook and I really dont think it matters
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:41 AM   #4
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I have heard stories of the guys on the rigs catching swords on bake potatoes and fried chicken.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:47 AM   #5
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Swordies are like big saltwater vacuum cleaner catfish. Last one we caught was on like 3 foot tentacle of some giant squid we found floating dead. Caught em on live bait, strips from blackfin bellies, etc. I just like taking the time to sew squid some afternoons. Just a pride thing I guess to see a bait I spent a few minutes making look pretty get sucked down. The important part is making sure you're in the right area with a good amount of bait. There's all kinds of little tricks you can mess with (how close your light is to the bait, what depth you are fishing at, what color light, etc.) that can tweak your hookup to catch ratio but that's the fun part is learning what works. Next time you have a successful trip, take the time to write down how deep the bait was, how far the light was from the bait, what kind/color light did you use, what time was the strike, what moon phase it was, what water depth you were in, what bait you were using, etc. You will start to notice trends, I promise. And then you can capitalize. Good luck
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:33 PM   #6
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I'm with Woody on this one. I have found that the right bait/color combo is only one of many factors. Moon phase, current, depth, etc. all have a much larger influence on your success, but it is super important to have a presentable bait. I dont see the point in running the long distances to our sword grounds and investing all the time and money only to half ass your bait spread. I find the more effort you put into it the better your chances become. I almost never used un-dyed squid anymore, and take careful time preparing the squid to make sure they flow naturally with the hook in them. Granted, they sometimes they will eat almost anything... but most times you will find they can also be very picky. We often pull up slashed squid from swords (mostly pups) just running through the bait around your lights just murdering everything in sight, but not really eating. So in short, I do think its important to put effort into your bait selection, but I believe there are larger factors that determine your success out on the grounds.
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Old 09-19-2010, 06:33 PM   #7
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Default Where they live?!?!

Thanks all for your input.

If i sense a theme here.... Fish where the fish are!!?!

It has been posed by many others, with far more experience than I, that offshore fishing is really more about being at the right place at the right time.

Like in marlin fishing, usually lure selection is more important to fisherman than fish. I will be betting the same with swordfishing. Literally and figuratively.

Again, I am not suggesting to " half-ass" it. But, I personally feel that enough evidence has been compiled by many people out there that a strip bait or live hardtail presented where they are is the most important factor. Sure a pretty squid will, and does take them, but IMO not worth it for me.

I just wish I had more time to confirm/debunk my theory. If I am lucky and can get the time, crew, money, and weather to pan out 6 times per year I am lucky. I just don't get the chance to be on the grounds as much as others here. Thanks for the feedback.

Now, the real question is and always will be......where are they?
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Old 09-19-2010, 07:04 PM   #8
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No, they aren't that picky but how you rig your baits can ultimately decide whether the fish that bites gets hooked, and once hooked will stay on throughout the fight. A longliner is using a line 30 miles long with over a thousand hooks and soaking them for a very long time. In a 10 hour set a good haul is around 30 fish. You can't fish that many hooks over that far of an area and very rarely for that long so make sure that the bait he sees looks like the greatest thing in the world. I've hooked swords on squid, northern and spanish macks, live and dead hardtails, goggle eyes, and even crazy fish. I used to rig some of my baits really fancy and this and that and have ultimately settled on rigging options that take far less time but the main thing I still pay attention to is that the hook is unobstructed and the bait looks natural. I know plenty of guys who will string 5 or 6 small squid on a hook and have had luck with that as well BUT in my experience doing this when a sword bites or whacks the bait with its bill the smaller squid can slump down the hook and the point is unable to penetrate. You get a runoff but the fish shakes the hook once he feels the pressure. While its cool just to get a bite (I guess) I'd much rather him be dead on the deck.

I like the KISS strategy on everything but don't get caught with a report saying "went 0-3" because of half assing something as simple as prepping a bait. Sharpen hooks, rig your baits, pay attention to how they look in the water and you will CATCH more swords.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:31 PM   #9
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Your original post asked if they were picky and the answer is no, not really.

But, as Chris pointed out, catching them isn't just a matter of getting them to try to bite. Catching them is much more difficult than making them hit so while I said they'd eat anything, it's important to know they're not going to get hooked up unless the bait is rigged correctly.

Swords are sloppy fish. They're clumsy and they've got a big sword on their head and eyes on the side so they don't see so well in front of them. Rigging a bait needs to be done just as much for enticing the bite as it is to get the hook in their mouth.

For that reason, almost every bait we fish is going to be a large squid stitched with a straw/beads to get the hook exactly where it needs to be so it isn't missed or fouled in the bait.
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Old 09-19-2010, 09:05 PM   #10
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X and CV,

I agree that the bait regardless needs to be rigged right. Hook placed appropriately, fresh, presented right depth, as natural as possible, etc.

My beef is really that I hate squid. There I said it. They stink are expensive for the big ones, pain in the ass to rig, too delicate on hook.

As said before, swords are like a 2 year old with an ice cream cone in 95 degree sun! They know they want to eat it but fumble getting it in the piehole!

That being said I like my odds of a whole fresh dead fish, fresh "properly" rigged panama ( which done correctly is as timely and skillful as squid!) when a sword is trying to eat a bait. She can whack it many times and be reasonably assured that it is still there and intact. If they do not get hooked I can probably leave it down with the hope that sooner or latter they get it right. If I also rig with a glow skirt over it and do loose the meat, it may still be enough for her to think to come back for the leftovers.

Ok now that we have everyone thinking here.....circle or j hook?

That should get any lookers riled up to jump in now!? LOL.
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