Primetime for broadbill.
|[Published in New Zealand Fishing News magazine, August 2001. Written by Matt
Watson, reproduced courtesy of NZ Fishing News.]
The scientific name for broadbill is Xiphias Gladius taken from the Latin and Greek words meaning sword. The name of Gladius (from which Gladiator is derived) is truly fitting. After our encounters with these gladiators this season aboard PRIMETIME we have found they truly fight to the death.
Our first encounter with a Broadbill was in May when we were returning from the Kings due to the weather making conditions unfishable. A lure was deployed on the downrigger in the early hours of the morning at the Garden Patch.
Shortly after, line steadily began to run from the reel and our angler, Tom Gregory, jumped into the chair for the first of his many battles with broadbill.
After a fight of almost three hours on 60-kg gear, a big broadie was brought to the leader and was obviously still green, but just as the gaff shot was about to go in, the hook pulled.
A few days later we had a chance to get back to the Kings, and on our first night on the drift, we hooked up. This broadie fought a lot different than the previous. After an hour of deep hard runs it came to the surface for a series of jumps close to the boat. After 4 hours on 37 kg the broady was brought to the leader and once again the unthinkable happened - the hook pulled at the boat.
It almost seemed as though we were cursed. After checking the boat for bananas, the baits were set again only to catch a few sharks and to get a few baits that appeared to have been squashed by a broad. During the day we were kept sleepless by the large striped marlin that tend to congregate at the Kings late in the season. The following night we hooked up again, with the hard steady runs and explosive powerful bursts indicating that we were into another Broad.
Tom got the fish to the boat after almost three hours and this time the gaffs went in seconds before the hooked pulled once again!
The Broad was weighed four days later (after wed tagged six stripies and a number of sharks), pulling the scales down to 135 kg. This was the turning point in our luck. On the following trip we caught 3 more broadies but encountered a new problem - big makos.
Our first Broad of the trip got it's tail bitten at the back of the boat on the leader and the next two broadies were dragged aboard as we fended off sharks with the tag pole. The biggest of the three broadies weighed in at 244.8 kg on 37-kg line - a pin fish for Tom.
On the next trip, the local publican, Laurie, was on board as our angler, in search of his first Broadbill. His first hook up was on a deep set bait during the day and after four hours on stand-up, the drag was cranked up and snapped rod! Unfazed, Laurie continued the battle with a slightly shorter rod until the line finally gave out.
Just hours later, on dusk, Laurie was hooked up again, this time in the chair on 37-kg. Seven hours and 27 minutes later, a beaten Broad popped up after being fought on 22 kg of drag for the last two-and a-half hours. Tom's pin fish of last week was looking a bit unsafe.
When weighed, the fish went 286 kg - the new mark to beat and a new club record! On the following trip, the shark numbers increased further and managed to keep the crew busy all night. However despite the bad weather and ferocious makos, 3 more broadies were brought aboard.
Unfortunately two of the three fish were bitten by makos, disqualifying the fish, which is a shame, as we all worked very hard for these fish, only for the bloody mongrel Makos to spoil it all at the last moment. However, it is still quite a feat to have three broadies on board!
The biggest in this lot (which still had it's tail intact) weighed in at 247.2 kg. When Tom heard of all the action, he returned to have another shot at a big Broad and try to reclaim his pin.
We sailed in late June with Tom and his mate Ken Gill. We arrived at the spot at about midnight and Tom did the honorable thing and gave the strike to Ken until he caught his first broad. He didn't have to wait long. Only 10 minutes into our first drift, a slow few clicks indicated our deep bait had been taken, so our angler pushed the drag up and came tight.
Two hours and 45 minutes later, the fish came up and went ballistic. We could see it was a big fish, but we could also see two large makos chasing it. We backed up hard on the fish, but both sharks got a bite on the fish. The next night we had caught eight sharks and had plenty more bite through the mono before we hooked up again at 11.35. The fish took off along the surface, as sharks tend to do. However, we end up backing up for almost two miles chasing this fish, which just didn't slow down. We eventually got close to the leader but only succeeded in making it mad, so that it went straight down taking 500 m of line with ease. It appeared to be a broad after all.
Tom got stuck into his work and an epic battle began, with both the broad and Tom getting the advantage at different stages.
Six-and-a-half hours later saw the sky beginning to lighten, but Tom was showed no signs of giving in. Then, just as the sun crept over the horizon, the fish went deep again with relative ease, the 20 kg of drag seeming to have little effect on its progress.
For hours afterwards, Tom inched the fish up only to have it blister out line at will. John and I tried different tactics, including circling and planing, but all these manoeuvres only seemed to work for a short time. The fish was still displaying immense power.
After 14 hours I gave Tom the instruction to crank up the pre-set. The tension of the line was now incredible and the crackling noises were almost sickening as we prepared ourselves for the line to part. The rollers were regularly lubed and fresh water sprayed on the reel as the gear was pushed to its limit.
Throughout all the pressure, Tom just kept on battling through cramp and fatigue, totally focused on his work. Finally, the extra pressure took its toll on the fish and after 16 hours and 40 minutes, at 3.15pm the big broad came up to the surface.
We backed up to get him and saw a swirl as a Mako of about 50 kg took a bite out of the broadies tail.
There were mixed emotions as the fish was brought aboard, as the fish was now ineligible.
We then discovered the line was half hitched around the broadies pectoral fin, so Tom had been pulling the fish side ways. The hook wasn't even in the fish.
Still it was a privilege to witness a man in his 70th year battle with such a huge, powerful fish. It was a lesson in determination. I have a seen a lot of anglers in the chair, and many younger, fitter men have given up in a fraction of the time.
We headed back to the grounds, which were now over 7 miles away, and upon setting our first bait out it got hit, and we were hooked up on yet another broad.
Three hours later we had it to the boat only to have it suffer the same fate as the previous two fish -- the tail was bitten at the back of the boat.
Only a couple of hours later we hooked yet another broad. This meant that Ken was on his third broadbill for a total of only two hours waiting time.
We got the fish to the boat with no sharks in sight, so we quickly tagged and released it. It was great to see it swimming away strongly. We returned to weigh our shark bitten fish. Kens fish weighed 187kg and 256kg, while Toms fish, which was missing its tail, a lot of blood, and had been on deck for almost two days, weighed 292.6kg and could well of been a world record. The broadbill swordfish is the ultimate for the sport fisherman and world records are out there waiting. Although we have had a good run (12 broadies in 5 trips) I believe the best is still to come.
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