I always thought when I got older that reflection of accomplishments and successes would be the stuff on my mind. Although I do relive some of those from time to time, the dominant is the one that got away. The fight well fought and lost. The passion lingers in those moments where the winners are complete and there is nothing left to do. I still hunger to complete those battles.
Several years ago when recreational anglers here in Key West figured out they could catch Swordfish I got the bug. I started going after Swords whenever I could. Night fishing was all we were doing then and we were having good success, with keeper size fish on almost every trip.
One of our first “loses” was a nice evening and we had a lot of life going on in the lights. The Squid and flying fish were all around the back of the boat and all kinds of bait at the edge of the light. It wasn’t long till we had a Swordie chasing flying fish behind the boat. Earlier in the charter we were fishing Mutton snapper and the only rod ready and available was a spinner used for Muttons. The forty pound three foot leader was not the perfect setup for pitching a Goggle Eye.
Steve Stearns, my mate, could not stand to not take a shot and pitched the bait. It took three big splashing pitches to attract his attention, but once we got his attention nothing else existed. Now we were getting a real good look as he chased the bait around behind the boat batting at it with that “sword”. He was in the 125 pound class and took about five minutes before he actually killed the bait and ate it. This battle had no hope with a short under classed leader and a 20 pound spinner. The hook up was solid and the fish almost spooled the spinner on his first run. Steve worked the fish in to watch him take off and almost spool again and again over the next hour. Slowly the fish started taking less line on his runs and finally discovered he could sit about 30 feet behind the boat and we could not move him. We would back up and he would swim off . Bring him back but no closer than 25 – 30 feet. This standoff, out of gaff and harpoon range went on for a while until the inevitable line break. He had chaffed through the forty pound leader. What a surprise. Needless to say we keep a proper pitch rod always on the ready now.