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TROLLING
UP SWORDFISH

By Capts. Cody & RJ Melton

   For just about everyone, when the rigger pops and the reel starts screaming after 9 p.m. on a late July evening, the thought “bigeye bite” immediately enters the brain.
  That could certainly be said for our team of captains, but over the last few years we have begun to gather evidence suggesting that a bigeye bite might not always be the cause of that heart-racing moment we all have come to dream about.
  Could it be that a fair amount of these bites come from swordfish up on the surface prowl after the sun sets, and we have been fortunate enough to land these fish even without the proper gear for a swordfish battle? After a roundtable discussion among our team, we think so. We have had plenty of late-night bites over the years that either break off pretty quickly or come back with chafe on the leader, leaving us confused as to who the culprit was. By no means do we think more than 10 percent of these late-night bites are the results of swordfish, but in 2023 we landed six swordfish on the troll with several other suspicious bites. The duration of the article will discuss some of the areas and the gear that have resulted in landed fish, along with bites we believe were the result of a hungry swordfish.

  AREAS OF SUCCESS
   We have vessels running from multiple inlets along the Jersey Shore, which gives us plenty of range and the ability to fish a broad spectrum of canyons from Washington Canyon off Virginia to Block Canyon off New York. At times we travel quite a distance for our clients to put them on the best tuna bite possible but we have been able to establish quite a large research group in order to find an area that produces the most swordfish bites on the troll.
  Over the last 10 years, our data focused on one main area of success, from the Hudson Canyon to the Dip area. Dozens of landed swordfish and swordfish bites on the troll have been recorded from these areas under the cover of darkness or during very low light. This doesn’t come as a surprise to most as these areas are known to have significant numbers of swordfish, but why they tend to attack surface baits more often is what keeps us scratching our heads.
  One point that makes a significant amount of sense is this area tends to hold a vast amount of bait, which very commonly correlates to more fish in the area leading to more bites.

The sun fading into to darkness brings the promise of swordfish surprising anglers on the troll.
The sun fading into to darkness brings the promise of swordfish surprising anglers on the troll.
Chatterlures sandeel jigs are highly effective to use when the sandeel bite is on.
Chatterlures sandeel jigs are highly effective to use when the sandeel bite is on.

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fish with sun rays falling from above