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Fish Info

South Florida Fly Fishing Charters

Written by Capt. Steve on Wednesday, 11 April 2012. Posted in Fish Info

VIP Fishing Charters Now Offers Fly Fishing Charters

yellowtail snapper

VIP Fishing Charters has been getting requests for fly fishing charters since we started the business.  In the past we have turned down these requests, because at VIP we pride our-selves on our top of the line fishing charters.  We wanted to make sure our fly fishing charters would start at or exceed the same quality as our deep sea fishing charters.  After months of research, recommendations and hard work we have recruited some of the top fly fisherman in South Florida and the country to join our team.  

Our fly fishing guides love taking out experienced fly fishing anglers as well as novices looking to learn.  Fly fishing can be one of the most rewarding types of fishing and attracts a unique and dedicated clientele.  We are proud to say we now offer fly fishing charters from Stuart Florida down to the Keys.  Cities include Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach and many others.  

Shark Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info

Miami Hammerhead SharkSharks are of the genus Selachii from the family Salachimorpha and there are many varieties of them in all the oceans of the world that fit into numerous sub-families. These animals date as far back as 420 million years and have not evolved too much during all that time. This is simply because they are such efficient predators and have had no need to adapt in order to survive. The biggest shark on earth is the whale shark which can grow to around 39ft in length, while the dwarf lanternshark is the smallest and can be found measuring only 17cm. Sharks can be found near the surface or in extreme depths of 6 600ft and although they are primarily saltwater fish, there are a few that can survive comfortably in freshwater such as the bull shark and the river shark.

Many of the most well-known sharks are apex predators and survive at the top of their food chain. These include hammerhead sharks, great white sharks, tiger sharks, shortfin mako sharks, bull sharks and blue sharks, among others. Teeth are embedded into their gums instead of affixed to their jaws. These teeth are replaced continuously throughout their lives, moving to replace lost teeth in a manner much the same as a conveyor belt. Some sharks can lose up to 30 000 teeth during their lifetime. Their diet determines their tooth shape. Dense, flattened teeth crush molluscs and crustaceans, while fish feeders have sharp needle-like teeth for gripping. Those that eat larger prey such as mammals grip with pointed lower teeth while their upper ones are sharp and serrated for cutting. Plankton feeders have small, non-functional teeth such as those found in basking sharks.

Sharks have cartilaginous skeletons that are comprised of cartilage and connective tissue, as opposed to bones found in other fish. Cartilage is lighter than bone with only half the density, saving sharks energy in the weight that they carry. On land, sharks can be crushed by their own weight due to their lack of rib cages. Underwater, they are more flexible and can make sudden, sharp movements with ease. Another interesting feature is their jaw which is not attached to their cranium. It needs extra support because of the continual physical stress it endures. Instead, blocks of calcium salts called tesserae are arranged in tiny hexagonal plates that give strength and flexibility to absorb shock. The bigger the shark, the more layers of these plates there are.

The skeleton of a shark fin is long and has filaments of elastic protein similar to keratin found in feathers and hair. This gives support to all eight fins because sharks are unable to swim backwards and can only move forwards. Their skin consists of a complex dermal corset that is comprised of collagenous fibres that surround the body in a helical network. This functions as an outer skeleton and provides attachment to their muscles. This saves them vast amounts of energy and makes them more streamlined in the water, helping to increase their speed. Their tails provide the thrust needed for speed and acceleration but they vary in shape between shark species. The dorsal portion of the tail is much bigger than the ventral portion because the vertebral column extends into the dorsal fin and provides a greater area for muscle attachment. This allows for more efficient movement among these negatively buoyant and cartilaginous fish.

There is a massive variety of these awesome predators in the western Atlantic Ocean, all through the Caribbean and on to South America, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Shark fishing in Florida is phenomenally popular among sports fishing enthusiasts who take up the challenge in these waters. Here are some tips for catching sharks in Florida:

Tackle for Sharks

Good quality fishing gear is essential for catching these powerful and enormous fish. Ensure you have many cable leaders, large shark hooks, rope and chum. 6/0 to 12/0 reels loaded with between 50lbs and 80lbs test is optimal. Safety is paramount, take no shortcuts. You will need a good sized, quality gaff and a harpoon with between 100ft and 300ft of rope attached.

Bait for Sharks

All kinds of bait can be used. Frozen bait and lures included. Ideally, fresh bait put into the bait tank is the best bait to use. Squid, tuna, sardines, anchovies and any number of small fish can be used. A plump mackerel is simply irresistible. Tuna love them too and there are always sharks following tuna.

How to handle Shark Bait

It is important that you do not handle your bait directly. Humans have a distinct smell and if you handle even one of your bait fish, you will contaminate all of them. Once brought onboard, use the handle of a spoon to twist the hook out of its mouth and let it drop directly into the bait tank, which also keeps them fresh.

Tips for catching Sharks

  • Finding sharks is the same as finding tuna. Many game fish love areas where colder water meets warmer water and the Gulf Stream has several of these spots. Where you find game fish, there will be sharks because they prey on them. Finding these areas relies on monitoring your water temperate gauge. It can be very productive to troll or chum along underwater ledges, drop offs, wrecks, reefs or other structures. Once you find these spots, mark them for future reference.
  • Should you come across tuna schooling or dolphins, get your boat out in front of them and get your lines into the water. Sharks love eating stragglers and will undoubtedly be following them. Tuna follow dolphins, and sharks follow tuna. You can catch a couple of tasty tuna before chumming immediately after for sharks.
  • Rig heavy gear beforehand. It must be ready to toss before you arrive at the fishing grounds. Have light spinning gear ready to catch more bait fish that are attracted to your chum line. Place your chum bucket in the water and pull up and down on the line every few minutes. This will shake the particles out and disperse your chum nicely. If your chum is frozen, it may take a few minutes to defrost. The chum will start drifting in a noticeable line which is where you want to put your rigs. Pre-rigged double shark hooks work exceptionally well and your bait fish should be hooked through the nose and the gut before being thrown into the chum line. You can use rubber bands to fasten hooks alongside the body of small bait fish. Once around the gills and another around the tail is optimal. This will make your bait swim unnaturally and it will attract every shark within a mile. Sharks consider struggling, weakened or sick fish particular easy to catch and they are attracted by the noise. Equipping your shark hook rigs with a heavy duty rattle is extremely effective. When trolled bait begins to slow down, you can rig it onto a floating drift rig to keep it near the surface. Sharks are often enticed into biting on these.
  • Your rods will soon start bending beautifully with a shark on them. Take your time and exhilarate in the experience of fighting these beasts. There is no rush. The goal is to tire them out as much as possible. A big shark will do extensive damage to you and your boat in short order, so heed this advice.
  • At this point, your pre-rigged tail rope becomes extremely helpful. When the shark is significantly tired out, position it along the side of the boat which should be slowly moving forward. Hold the head of the shark steady by the leader line and loop the tail rope over its head. The forward motion of the boat and the current will help in slipping the loop over the shark’s body until it reaches the tail. Tighten the noose and tie it off to a cleat. Your shark will quickly become tame and less unruly after being dragged backwards by its tail.

Sharks are fighters and they are immensely challenging. These animals have no desire to become dinner and they will hurt you as soon as they get a chance. Neutralize all sharks before handling them directly. This will also prevent untold damage to your boat.

Call today to book your Shark Fishing Charter in Florida and meet this predator.


Blackfin Tuna Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info

Miami TunaThe smallest tuna species in the Thunnus genus, belonging to the Scrombidae family, Blackfin Tuna are found only in the western Atlantic Ocean between Cape Cod and Brazil. These fast and exceptionally powerful fish have oval-shaped bodies with black backs and yellow on their sides and fin tips. They do not usually exceed 39in in length and 46lbs in weight, but any angler with a Blackfin Tuna on their line is guaranteed an almighty and exhilarating fight. Fishing for Blackfin Tuna is staggering popular off the coast of Florida.

Blackfin Tuna feed on both surface and deep water fish, squid and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps. Short-lived and fast-growing, these fish spawn during the summertime in the open sea. These warm water fish are extremely willing to bite and they have an immensely abundant population, which makes up for their small size. We frequently target Blackfin Tuna because there are so many of them, various ways to catch them and they are extraordinarily tasty. Here are some tips that will help when you are Blackfin Tuna fishing in Florida:

Where to find Blackfin Tuna

Typically found offshore, Blackfin Tuna are also known to move further inshore while chasing prey in reefs, wrecks and ridges – where many bait fish can be found.

Baits for Blackfin Tuna

Live bait always works best. Trolling whole mullets, mackerels, ballyhoo, bonefish, pinfish, pigfish, menhaden, flying fish and squid produces the optimal results. They can also be caught on artificial baits, lures and strip baits.

Tackle for Blackfin Tuna

A straight 20lbs line with 4/0 or 5/0 short shank hooks works exceptionally well, as do beak hooks and 30lbs lines. Skirts, spoons, jigs and feathers are all effective for catching Blackfin Tuna.

Tips and Techniques for Blackfin Tuna

For the ultimate results, our VIP Fishing Charters troll for these astounding fish using both live and frozen bait – ideally ballyhoo. Signs of weakness in a bait fish are attractive to Blackfin Tuna and can be mimicked effectively. There are however, several methods and tips that can be used to catch Blackfin Tuna and we list them below:

  • Combining chumming with live pilchards is effective. Start drifting in a good spot or simply power drift. Chum the water with individual pilchards every fifteen seconds or so. Keep an eye for when Blackfin Tuna start breaking the surface and throw them both unhooked and hooked pilchards. You can occasionally keep this going for long drifts.
  • Slow troll or power drift live ballyhoo that has been beak hooked and thrown behind the boat, leaving your bait open for the strike.
  • You can try trolling feathers if you are not getting any bites. Use jigs and flies that resemble your chum.
  • Your ideal trolling speed should depend on the conditions. Six or seven knots should be your minimum trolling speed when scouting for fish. Blackfin Tuna can easily take faster baits if given time to settle down after being run over.
  • When small fish are present but not showing on the surface, pulling surface-skipping lures may not work. They key here is to use small baits that track just below the surface.
  • Blackfin Tuna are shy and often dart away when a boat approaches. They will pop up again if your bait concentration is high enough but they need calm and quiet conditions. You may need to troll your bait at least 100yds away in order to give them time to do so.
  • Putting your lures into quiet water is often the only way to get a hit because Blackfin Tuna are known to avoid the whitewater in the wake of your boat.
  • For the best lure performance, lures must run true and be free of weeds or debris, which can quickly spoil their accuracy.
  • Larger baits do not catch as many fish as smaller six or eight inch baits.

Call today to book your Blackfin Tuna Fishing Charter in Florida and experience thrill.


Wahoo Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info

Miami WahooFound in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world, Wahoo (Acanthocybium Solandri) is a Scrombrid fish that is well-known to sports fishing enthusiasts for its incredible speed and delicious taste. The Hawaiians call them Ono and in the Hispanic areas of the Caribbean and Central America, they are called Peto.

Wahoo have elongated bodies covered in tiny, almost invisible scales. The back is an iridescent blue and the sides are silver with an irregular pattern of vertical blue bars that fade quickly after death. Large mouths have razor sharp teeth and both the upper and lower jaws are sharper in appearance than those of kingfish or Spanish mackerel. Among the fastest fish in the seas, Wahoo can swim up to 60mph and they grow rapidly in their first few years. These awesome predators have been recorded weighing as much as 180lbs and measuring 8.20ft in length.

Closely related to the king mackerel and the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, Wahoo have some significant differences. There is a fold of skin that completely covers the mandible when their mouths are closed. Their teeth, although similar, are shorter and compacted together more closely. Occasionally people confuse the barracuda with Wahoo, but barracuda have scales that are far more prominent, their teeth are larger and sharper and they lack the caudal keels and blade-like features common in Wahoo.

These streamlined predators are usually solitary fish but can be found in groups of two or three. When conditions are suitable, they can congregate in large schools of hundreds. Smaller fish and squid make up their diet and their sharp teeth are used in a scissor-like manner. They are aggressive by nature, making them a highly prized sports fishing catch. They reach awesome sizes, can sometimes be caught relatively close to shore and they are always itching for a fight. Although they do not generally leap after being hooked, they are known for their incredible jumps when chasing bait fish. They will even attack your lure as you retrieve it from the water, getting really close to your face. Famous for their speed and the power of their first run, Wahoo can be annoying when trying to target larger game fish such as marlin or tuna. Here are some tips for you to have success when Wahoo fishing in Florida:

Tackle for Wahoo

For Wahoo, standard offshore trolling tackle works very well and you can troll using 100lbs braided line. Medium conventional tackle with 80lbs braid is effective when casting for them. Regardless of what outfit you are using, always use a wire leader and good quality equipment such as a Shimano Trinidad 30 for casting or an Accurate BX2 30 when trolling.

Bait for Wahoo

These fantastic fish can be caught on bait and lures. We much prefer using live bait.

Techniques for Wahoo

Wahoo are commonly caught while trolling. When targeting these fish, you should troll faster and closer to the boat than you would normally do for other species of fish. These fish have such incredible speed that it is impossible to troll too fast for them. This is how you can catch Wahoo in Florida:

  • Lures can be trolled behind the boat very effectively. If you are going fast enough, the Wahoo will not hesitate to strike them. Any lures that can be trolled rapidly will work such as Rapalas, swimming plugs, braid marauder or bonita lures. Some anglers like using plastic skirted lures for trolling, but Wahoo just shred them in short order and this can get expensive. When they are swimming near the surface, then they will sometimes take stickbaits or poppers.
  • Baits such as mackerel are a great temptation for Wahoo. They will certainly strike them but it can be difficult to hook them. Due to the fact that bait does not move as rapidly as lures, the fish will start inspecting them. They tend to notice the wire leader and become shy. You can use a fluorocarbon leader to reduce visibility and rig your bait correctly so it does not fall apart with each strike.

Call today to book your Wahoo Fishing Charter in Florida and discover their speed.


Sailfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info

Miami SailfishThere are two species of Sailfish (the Atlantic Sailfish and the Indo-Pacific Sailfish) that live in the warm waters of the world. They are members of the Istiophorus genus from the family of Istiophoridae. Their name is directly related to their huge dorsal fin that stretches the entire length of their back and resembles the sail from a sailboat. They have incredibly long bills and this is why they are considered billfish in sports fishing circles, along with marlins and swordfish. Sailfish are among the most popular big game fish caught in Florida.

Predominantly blue and gray, sailfish are also known to have black, purple, silver, subdued browns and green coloring. These are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue or silver specks. They grow quickly, as much as 1.20m and 1.50m in their first year. They can grow up to 3m in length and weigh as much as 200lbs when fully grown.

Kept to the side while swimming, and folded down, Sailfish are able to rise or lower their sail when they are excited or feeling threatened. This makes them appear bigger than they are and is a tactic used during feeding when they are herding groups of squid or smaller prey fish. Sailfish feed at mid-depth or on the surface and their diet consists of smaller pelagic fish such as tuna and mackerel, as well as squid.

Sailfish are extraordinary predators, with a few capabilities that they use highly effectively. They are among the fastest fish found anywhere in the world, reaching speeds nearing 70mph. Prey simply do not see them coming and if they do, they are unable to escape in time. In addition to this, Sailfish can change their colors almost instantly – a change controlled by their nervous system. They can quickly turn a light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, which completely confuses their prey and makes it easier to catch them. This characteristic also signals their intentions to their fellow Sailfish.

Any angler will confirm that Sailfish are a highly prized game fish. Their speed is absolutely breathtaking and they will leap high out of the water. They also hunt in schools, which mean that there is always a possibility of having a few of them on your lines at one time. When this happens and there are two or three (or more) Sailfish performing incredible leaps at the same time, anglers delight in the majestic and beautiful spectacle.

Among the easiest billfish to catch, Sailfish congregate in large numbers at different times of the year off the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica, Florida and Guatemala. Here is some information to help you with sailfish fishing in Florida:

Tackle for Sailfish

It is always a good idea to have tackle designed for deception. These intelligent fish are often successfully caught using kites, dredges and skirts. A conventional medium weight setup works well, but for trolling a 50lbs setup can be used (because something bigger may always bite). If pitching bait then a 30lbs setup will work. Quality spinning reels are good choices for pitching baits, and something like an Accurate BX2 30 for trolling.

Baits for Sailfish

Although Sailfish can be caught on lures and frozen bait, live bait works better by far. Small mackerel, tuna and squid are recommended. If using lures, then troll rubber skirts such as Zukers with 12in lures. Trolled plugs can work but Sailfish often throw treble hooks when jumping. Poppers are sometimes used but not very successfully because of their bony mouths and when Sailfish jump, they frequently spit them back at high speed.

Techniques for Sailfish

Our VIP Fishing Charters troll for Sailfish. Sometimes we locate them with lures and then throw them hooked bait when we see their dorsal fins chasing our lures. The best methods are definitely kites and dredges. This is how they work:

  • Dredge fishing relies on deceiving Sailfish. An umbrella-shaped device, the dredge is designed to hold multiple live baits which are attached to it and trolled through the water. This effect makes it appear as if a school of fish are swimming by, and that is something that a Sailfish finds irresistible. Larger predators – such as the Sailfish – have a higher chance of catching prey if they chase a school of fish as opposed to a solitary one.
  • Kite fishing is also reliant on deception. Live bait is attached to long lines. These are temporarily suspended from a kite that is flown behind the boat and are rigged to break free from the kite when the Sailfish takes your bait (so that they can be reeled in). The kite keeps the bait near the surface of the water and makes it look as if the fish is panicking or sick. Weakness in prey is a great temptation for any predator, including the sailfish.

Call today and book your Sailfish Fishing Charter in Florida and be exhilarated.




Kingfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info


Miami KingfishFrom the family Scrombridae of the genus Scromberomorus is a fish otherwise known as King Mackerel, and Kingfish are decidedly a favorite game fish for anglers. This migratory fish is found in abundance in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, from North Carolina all the way to Rio de Janeiro. There are two groups of Kingfish existing on the American coast. The Gulf of Mexico group ranges from Texas during summer and the middle-east coast of Florida during winter. The Atlantic group can be found off the coast of North Carolina during spring and fall and travels to southeast Florida where they spawn from May to August, slowly returning through summer. Anglers in Florida really love chasing these fish and delight in their sheer numbers.

Typically weighing anywhere from five to thirty pounds, Kingfish are medium in size but have been known to weigh as much as 90lbs. Small, loose and hardly visible scales cover their entire bodies. The pelvic fins and the first dorsal fins are colorless and are folded back into a body groove. Starting high on the shoulder, the lateral line dips at mid-body and continues to the tail as a wavy horizontal line. Their coloration consists of olive on the back, fading to silver (with a rosy iridescence) on the sides and finally to white on the belly.

Kingfish are voracious predators and they are opportunistic. Depending on their size, area and season, they will feed on squid, menhaden, jacks, cutlassfish, weakfish, grunts, striped anchovies, cigar minnows, threadfin, northern mackerel and even blue runners. Kingfish are fished commercially and are tasty to many. Their flesh is too oily for some people’s tastes though.

As with their cousin Wahoo, Kingfish are incredibly fast. Their large numbers and speed are the reason for their staggering popularity. These fish on your lines means your reel will literally scream as your line peels off. Here is some information that can help you when Kingfish fishing in Florida:

Bait for Kingfish

Various baits can be used such as herring, shrimp, ribbonfish and squid but ballyhoo is by far the preferred bait to use.

Where to find Kingfish

Structure oriented fish, Kingfish can be found near coral reefs, wrecks, offshore ridges, rocks and ledges. The larger “smokers” love deep wrecks in waters ranging between 100ft and 300ft deep.

Tackle for Kingfish

Light tackle that includes a high quality fishing rod and a reel that can hold up to 400m of line. An excellent drag system is necessary and it should hold at least a 20lbs or 25lbs test. Since catching Kingfish is about finesse, a medium to fast tip rod is recommended. Spinning rods and boat rods are also highly effective.

Techniques for Kingfish

There are various trolling methods that can be used for catching Kingfish. Trolling spoons, buck tails with strip baits and big deep driving lures all work well. The larger “smokers” are best caught by slow trolling ballyhoo, either alive or with the backbone removed so that it looks natural as a dead bait. Here are some extremely important tips to remember:

  • Kingfish have very sharp teeth and they are very particular about the way your bait is swimming in the water. This means that rigging your bait correctly is of paramount importance if you wish to have any success. For live bait, a 2/0 or 3/0 hook should be hooked through the mouth or nose. The main wire leader length should be between three and five feet. A small barrel swivel should connect the wire to the mono and the wire must be as small in diameter as possible. The wire must not be obvious and the bait must move naturally. A 4X stinger treble hook needs to be attached by wire to the front hook and inserted into the back of your bait. Kingfish are known to bite off the tail ends of bait which is why this hook is extremely necessary to catch them. The long main wire leader is required because it is very common for other Kingfish to cut off your catch during the retrieve. Barracuda, Amberjacks and Sharks are also known to cut off your fish. In fact, the entire food chain can be responsible for this as they are all prevalent in these waters.
  • When slow trolling rigged ballyhoo, it helps to bump your motor in and out of gear to maintain forward movement at extremely slow speed. Putting a dropper loop in the main fishing line about 30ft ahead of the bait will get them down to varied depths to reach the Kingfish. Attaching several ounces of lead to a snap swivel is very effective and will act as a downrigger that can be removed during the retrieve by removing the snap swivel from the dropper loop. Once removed, you can wind the small dropper loop back through the reel. You can use spinning reels and level winds very successfully, instead of expensive downriggers.

Call us to book your Kingfish Fishing Charter in Florida and thrill in their high speed.




Dolphin (Mahi) Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info


Miami DolphinDolphin Fishing (otherwise known as mahi mahi) fishing is a great recreational sport fish. Most fisherman will agree there isn't a prettier fish. Dolphin fish have bright gold bodies with a green and blue color. Males tend to grower larger than the females. The males are called bulls and the females cows. Florida is a hotspot for dolphin fish due to the warm waters and ever present food source made up of fish, crabs, and squid. When we see floating seaweed off the coast of Florida we know there is a good chance we can find mahi mahi beneath it. Birds feeding in the water is also a tell tale sign that dolphin fish might be around because where we find bait fish we find the larger fishing feeding on them. As soon as we hook a dolphin there's always a possibility the fish is going to put on a show by jumping right out of the water. It's an impressive sight to see a fish that can grow up to 80 lbs breach the surface of the ocean effortlessly. Down here in South Florida, we really enjoy our dolphin tacos or a nice dolphin reuben.

Swordfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info

Fish SwordfishThe sole member of the Xiphiidae family, Swordfish has a long flat bill that resembles a sword – hence their name - and they are commonly referred to as broadbills. This bill makes them similar to other billfish species, such as marlin and sailfish, but they are very different physiologically and they are not members of the same families. Swordfish is an incredibly popular game fish for sports anglers, but they are rather elusive. These migratory, predatory fish are widely distributed throughout tropical parts of the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. During the daytime they prefer to hunt near the ocean floor among structure, at incredible depths of around 1 800ft (but they have been recorded as deep as 9 442ft). At night time, they come nearer the surface.

Swordfish are enormous fish known for their phenomenal strength, commonly reaching lengths of nearly ten feet and weighing anywhere from 200lbs to 500lbs. The largest specimen ever reported measured 14.90ft and weighed 1 400lbs. Females are bigger than males and the Pacific Swordfish are known to be larger than the Atlantic and Mediterranean counterparts. These extraordinary fish have very well-rounded, elongated bodies and will lose all their scales and teeth by the time they reach adulthood.

Popular belief dictates that Swordfish use their bill to spear their prey. This is not true. Instead, their “sword” is used to slash their prey in order to inflict injury and make them easier to catch. Swordfish rely on their amazing agility and speed in the water as an advantage to catch prey. Easily among the fastest fish in all the oceans, they are known to reach astonishing speeds of nearly 60mph. Solitary fish, they can be found in very loose formations on occasion. Swordfish are often seen basking on the surface, airing their dorsal fin. They are also known to jump powerfully (called breaching) in an effort to dislodge pests.

During the summer Swordfish will migrate into colder waters and the Gulf Stream current is a favorite route for them. Their common diet consists of pelagic fish such as barracuda, mackerel, silver hake, herring, rockfish, butterfish, bluefish and lanternfish but they are known for their preference for squid. Small prey is swallowed whole while larger victims are slashed viciously with their sword. A fully grown Swordfish is sometimes preyed on by killer whales and occasionally brave shortfin mako sharks. Juveniles are more vulnerable and are eaten by many predatory fish. Many dead or dying shortfin mako sharks have been found with broken swords embedded in their heads, which proves just how dangerous it is for anyone to prey on the Swordfish. This means that these awesome fish have very few enemies, besides man. Even we need to be very careful in order to survive an encounter with them.

Swordfishing in Florida is extremely popular among recreational fishermen and fishing charters. There are a number of ways to catch them but the most consistent method is deep-drop fishing. In order to offer Swordfish more natural bait, the boat is often left to drift. These fish are gigantic, really, and they require strong tackle and equipment. Getting your bait to their incredible depths requires the use of weights. Here is some information about how to catch an awesome Swordfish in Florida:

Where to find Swordfish

Off the coast of South Florida, the waters are warm and Swordfish bite throughout the year. During fall and winter the really big monsters return from the Caribbean into the Gulf Stream and this is undoubtedly the best time to catch them. This giant of the deep loves seamounts, irregular bottom contours and structure and the current is phenomenally strong at the bottom of the Gulf Stream. It is so strong that it will pull your deep baits ahead of your boat, where Swordfish lie in wait to ambush prey that is pulled past by the force of the current.

Baits for Swordfish

During the day bait needs to be presented at a variety of depths, some as deep as 2 000ft, but at night they can be dropped around 300ft. Anglers attach glow lights or deep waterproof battery operated lights to their bait, or imitation lures with built in lights are used when fishing with lures. Our Swordfish fishing charters in Florida use mainly standard baits such as whole mackerel, herring, mullet or bonito. Squid is the best bait to use but needs to be kept or defrosted in salty brine in order to retain its firmness and prevent it from being easily mutilated or pulled off completely. Live bait can also be used highly effectively.

Techniques for Swordfish

Catching Swordfish is an incredible challenge. This fish possibly requires the most tackle, equipment and expense for any success. These are some tips when dropping baits for them:

  • Know where your baits are at all times. This will help prevent them hanging up and getting tangled. The trick to this is to do it slowly. Drop your bait over the side and slowly move away, allowing the line to play out behind you. It is always a great idea to flow with the current in order to achieve this correctly. A three-step drop is advised where you can let out a third of your line at a time, taking up the slack in between. By remaining stretched out behind the boat, the leader will not tangle with the main line. If the rig moves easily through the water, the less chance it will have of tangling itself and is why baits are rigged to swim on tandem in-line hooks. Once you have taken up the slack after the second drop, then you can drop all the way to the bottom. When your lead reaches the bottom you can begin retrieving line as the captain turns the boat 180 degrees and heads into the current (the opposite direction). Continue retrieving line while watching the line’s angle as it leaves the rod tip. Once your line is perpendicular to the water’s surface, drop it again so that it hits the bottom before reeling up a few feet. While the boat is bumping along, you can continue to drop every now and then and find bottom. This method will keep your bait in the strike zone and prevent it from getting stuck in rocks.
  • We need to emphasise the absolute importance of your bait being as durable and sturdy as possible. Swordfish will repeatedly attack your bait before eating it and it needs to survive this battering. It also takes a very long time to retrieve your line from the ocean depths to check or replace your bait. You don’t want to do this unless you really have to. This is why we always sew our baits tight. Sewn dolphin bellies, rainbow runners and squid can catch multiple swordfish if sewn properly. A skirt sometimes helps to keep the bait protected.
  • Getting your bait down into such extreme depths with a strong current involves weight. Lots of weight. Some anglers make their own custom-made concrete weights and they work well. Ideally, concrete weights need to be rigged in such as way that they will break off when the fish bites. You can use leads and get them back by rigging a 30ft dropper line that clips onto the wind-on near the splice. This can be held in place between two knots of waxed thread and attached to the leader. When you get a strike then you can unclip the dropper line and wind it up separately. Leads are streamlined and drop true, as opposed to concrete weights that may flutter and become tangled with the main line. However, if you drop your baits correctly then this should pose no problem.
  • It is important to distinguish real strikes from errant motions. The tip of your rod tells you exactly what is going on so far below you, so watch it very carefully. A slight bob of the tip could be a small Swordfish slashing at your bait, or it could be a massive beast swallowing it whole. Be quick with your reactions because they make all the difference. You also need to pull tight fast in order to prevent your hook snagging the gut or throat, and hook the mouth instead. After you wind down on a suspected bite, you will quickly know if there is a fish on your line or not. This does take practice, which creates perfection.

Swordfish are giants of the deep and their bill is sharp enough to slice right through you. These fish are powerful and do not like being caught. They will hurt you at the first available opportunity and damage your boat extensively. Safety is of paramount importance and we caution you to take no shortcuts and remember it. Never allow a live swordfish onto your boat, ever. Heed this advice and you may live to tell the tale of that magnificent Swordfish that you caught off the coast of Florida.

Call us now to book your Swordfish Fishing Charter in Florida and fight true power.





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