A state record broadbill swordfish
A new fishing competition aimed at sparking increased interest in chasing broadbill swordfish in WA launches next month.
On the other side of the country broadbill swordfish are a very popular target for offshore anglers, but here few people specifically bother with what is a fairly specialised style of fishing.
Living in the dark depths of the bluewater, swordfish are more of an occasional catch and just a handful of West Aussie anglers, mainly in Exmouth where such deep water is not far offshore, specifically target them.
However, these unusual looking billfish can be found in good numbers along most of our coastline and have been caught as far south as Bremer Bay.
The Exmouth Game Fishing Club (EGFC) hopes to generate more interest in catching broadies in WA with its Search for Swords Western Australia competition, which launches on February 1.
Something of a holy grail for those who spend hours trying to target these often elusive fish, the EGFC hopes the new competition can encourage anglers right across WA to take up the challenge.
“We want to get the guys down south and across the state chasing broadbill swordfish” EGFC manager Ben Knaggs said.
“This fishery is huge over east and we know we have big ones here in WA.
“The east coast fishery has exploded in recent years thanks to the introduction of daytime deep drop techniques, so it’s high time we showed that WA has an awesome sword fishery as well.”
The prize pool for the Search for Swords WA is in excess of $5000 and there are two ways to win it.
You can either tag the most fish before the end of July, or break the standing all-tackle swordfish record for WA which is currently held by Craig White of Evolution Charters with a 121.5kg fish.
To win with a record fish though, that record must stand come the end of July, so there’s opportunity for any competitor to catch a larger one and steal the win right up until the competition closes.
To enter, you need to be a member of the EGFC or any other Game Fishing Association of Australia (GFAA) affiliated fishing club, and catches need to be tagged or weighed in via your club.
Online entry, rules and prizes for the Search for Swords WA competition can be found on the EGFC website at www.egfc.com.au .
While hunting broadbill has traditionally been done at night, in recent years it has been discovered that day fishing can be just as productive, with location the most important factor.
I’ve only chased broadbill once and that was at night off Exmouth with ace charter skipper Bernie Vale, and we were lucky enough to hook one within minutes of setting the lines, with Gavin Cameron claiming a state record.
With their long bill and huge eye, broadbill are an amazing looking fish, but they aren’t easy to find.
Ben has actually done a lot of work on broadbill off Exmouth and had some tips for anyone keen to chase them.
“Persistence and perseverance is the key, so don’t get side tracked,” he said.
“You have got to stick to swording if you want to succeed.
“We have found the best bait is squid or belly flaps and you need purpose-specific LED lights on your line to attract the fish – no light, no bite.
“These fish will be found where the bait is, so spend the time searching for bottom bait with your sounder.”
Ben recommended depths from 260-800m, suggesting around 500m as a good starting point for your search for swords.
Caption: Gavin Cameron with what was at the time a state record broadbill swordfish, caught off Exmouth.