It had been a long day. On board the big game boat White Mischief the crew had waited patiently, drifting slowly with the winds and the current forty kilometres offshore, a single rod standing with it’s line vertically down, drifting a bait along the bottom, over 500 metres down in the abyssal depths of the Indian Ocean.
Twice the bait had been taken, but each time nothing stayed hooked, but the third strike was different. As the line moved out with the bait being taken, the drag on the reel was pushed to ‘strike’ and the line continued to accelerate off the reel – the fish was on! The angler slowly worked the line back onto the reel, with the giant fish moving gradually towards the surface, but it was not until it reached the upper layers that it’s power was felt as it tore line off the reel again and again. Finally, after three hours, the huge broadbill swordfish, Xiphias gladius, lay alongside the boat to be secured.
History was made, for not only was this fish at 154.5kgs the biggest landed in our waters, and is being claimed a a record, but it was the first broadbill to be caught by day, using a new deep drifting technique, along the East African coast. Normally these fish are sought at night, either by trolling lures or drifting bait perhaps eighty metres beneath the boat, as they rise nearer the surface by night, spending the daylight hours in their demersal depths.
Angler Nick Michaelides and skipper Andy Thomas have been pioneering new fishing techniques for some years now, so doubly satisfying for them with a new first.
Fishing in the Rips has been quiet this last week, with the occasional striped marlin and some sailfish being caught, but more success went to those boats live baiting around the Banks, where a number of nice black marlin have been caught. Afetr a striped marlin one day and a couple of sail another, Seahorse had a great day last Wednesday with two black marlin released estimated at 90 and 150 kgs, both fish on live bait on the Banks. Bait has been easy to catch, so four or five black marlin are being caught daily between up to fifteen boats, and Alleycat, having weighed one fish at 198kgs, released another they estimated slightly bigger the next day.
Clueless was successful with a black, a stripey and four sail on a run up near the North Kenya Bank, as were the crew on Snowgoose in the same area with a black marlin and five sail, having anchored for the night behind the rocks at Ziwaiyu. Malindi boats have found sailfish north in their waters with Neptune, Tina and Snark all finding three or four sail in the Ngomeni area.
The previous week, when fishing was better in the Rips, Tina with Ben and Peter Pelser and Daniel Hogan from Tanzania, had fun with a blue and two striped marlin, after losing another two stripeys which came off. Eclare, with Wolfgang Friede fishing, also had a blue marlin which along with a stripey and a sailfish gave him a grand slam. Both these blues had almost spooled the reel down to the knot, and came in too exhausted to survive, one at 167 kgs and the other weighing 146 kgs.
With the first daytime broadbill achieved, it was not long before other skippers tried their hands at this new technique, and both Alleycat and Unreel were successful, each releasing a broadbill about 50 kgs. With fishing slow on the surface, many anglers will be trying their luck here, as some of the world’s most famous and successful anglers have never yet caught a broadbill!