How to catch swordfish
The Bass Canyons and its surrounding Continental Shelf off East Gippsland has become a game fishing hotspot, delivering exceptional catches of broadbill swordfish each year. Massive fish weighing several hundred kilograms are landed regularly. This has established eastern Victoria as the swordfish capital of Australia. Over the last five years, day time fishing for broadbill swordfish has surged, drawing avid anglers from across Victoria and interstate when offshore conditions permit.
The most popular way to target swords is to search along the slopes and walls of the Bass Canyons. High-powered sounders are used to locate patches of deep bait or even to spot swordfish themselves. Heavy game fishing tackle is used in combination with big baits, usually whole squid, on specialist rigs featuring lights and even larger weights to drop down several hundred metres into a zone where there is almost no light. Skippers manoeuvre the boat to keep line as vertical as possible while the baits slowly drift along. Then begins the waiting game, with bites so deep they are barely perceptible initially. Crews will often perform multiple drifts a day with an extended time winding up and dropping down baits between each drift. When a swordfish is hooked, a gruelling fight inevitably ensues, and many are lost mid-fight due to pulled hooks.
In addition to the need for a lengthy offshore voyage, favourable weather and a gentle drift speed are also crucial factors for a successful sword fishing expedition. Venturing so far out to sea, even in good conditions and a dependable vessel, necessitates the several boats traveling together and keeping a watchful eye on one another. The vast expanse of water around the Bass Canyons and Continental Shelf are rich deep-sea territory for other species such as blue eye trevalla, gemfish and pink ling. In addition, the by-catch from swordfish often includes colossal oceanic thresher sharks and, on a few rare occasions, barrel bluefin tuna.