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, with massive fish weighing several hundred kilograms regularly landed. This has established Eastern Victoria as the swordfish capital of Australia. Over the last five years, daylight fishing for broadbill swordfish has surged, drawing avid anglers from Victoria and interstate when weather conditions allow.

The most popular method to target swords is to search along the slopes and walls of the Bass Canyons. High-powered sounders are employed to locate good patches of deep bait or even to spot the swordfish themselves, to pinpoint a promising starting location. 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 the zone where there is almost no light. Skippers will manoeuvre the boat to try and keep the line as vertical as possible while the baits slowly drift along. Then begins the waiting game, with bites when they occur, so deep that they are initially barely perceptible. 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 conditions and a gentle drift speed are also crucial factors for a successful fishing expedition. Venturing this far out to sea, even with favourable conditions and a dependable vessel, necessitates the presence of multiple boats traveling together and keeping a watchful eye on one another. The vast expanse around the Bass Canyon and the Continental Shelf is also a rich territory for deep-sea fishing 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.

Click here for bag limits on Swordfish.