Stephen McQuinn, from Victoria, Australia, went fishing roughly 80km (50 mil) offshore from Lakes Entrance in Bass Canyon, just over the continental shelf, with Richie Abela of Dreamcatcher II Sportfishing. He reports:
We were targeting broadbill swordfish, deep dropping baits to 500-plus meters (1,640 feet) during the day. We used arrow squid and Australian salmon (kahawai) rigged and deployed with skipper Richard Abela's intricate techniques to increase our chances of not only getting the fish to bite but also ensuring a solid hookup and staying connected to the fish during the fight. We fished Shimano Talica 50s on custom game rods built specifically for deep-dropping for swordfish.
I fished with two friends on the two-day charter, a gift from my girlfriend for my 30th birthday. The first day was fairly uneventful apart from catching a porbeagle shark of approximately 40 kg, which we released, and a small mako shark of similar size. We had no more to show after more than 12 hours of hard work on the water. On day 2, the action heated up, with another early start and long trip to the grounds. On our first or second drop, we hooked something more serious. Richie straightaway called it as not a swordfish due to the way it bit and the way it was fighting. The fight lasted roughly 30 to 45 minutes with the fish taking only few short runs. The biggest challenge was bringing the fish up from the 500-plus meters depth. I was surprised to see a bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus) come to the surface. We were hoping to be able to release this strange fish, but sadly, after half an hour of trying to revive, we decided that its chance of surviving was minimal so we landed it.
Although it wasn't our target species, we were all very excited to have caught such and awesome and interesting fish. Richie has caught them before but the rest of us had never seen one, a much less-common catch than a swordfish.
Soon we were back to the mission of catching a swordfish, and over the next few hours had three bites that Richie was calling for swordfish, but we were unable to stay connected to any. Our luck finally turned on next bite, and we scored a solid hook-up which Richie instantly called as a swordfish, and he was correct. The fish rushed to the surface once hooked, and we thought it was going to jump, but sadly it didn't. The next hour was a hard-fought battle with long powerful runs, and every time I thought I was getting the upper hand the fish would show me who was boss and scream away with all the line I'd fought so hard to get back. After around an hour and a half with some tense moments and some amazing driving by the skipper, the boys managed to trace and gaff the fish and the fight was done. That swordfish weighed 122 kg (just under 270 lb) and the bigeye thresher weighed 77kg (170 lb).
This reader’s report was first published in Fishing & Travel magazine issue 20, in April 2022.