Sacrificing the fishing trip of a lifetime for an Adele concert cost Josh Cobham an epic double-swordfish haul out from the Great Barrier in perfect fishing conditions, aboard Big Red in late March.
With the sun shining and glassy conditions over three days, Lucas McIver, Chook Vanxay, Luke Howard-Willis and skipper, Tony Carpenter, headed out from Westhaven Marina aboard the 43ft Riviera on the Thursday afternoon for an action-packed fishing trip, roughly 20 miles off Great Barrier Island at a depth of 500 metres.
The following day, the crew were up to their sixth drop when they thought they had hooked a bluenose which was coming up to the surface easily until they realised it was a broadbill. For the next forty minutes, Luke battled with his first swordfish, also a first for Big Red.
Lucas said Luke spent 10-15 minutes winding the 112kg fish in until it was jumping right next to the boat. As the swordfish got closer to the vessel, the crew managed to get hold of the trace. However, the swordfish woke up again and they had to let the trace go. Luke then had a further 30-minute battle to get it back to the boat.
“We packed that one on ice and into the body bag. We did three or four drops after that and had a couple of bites, but nothing stuck, so we cruised back into one of the bays at Great Barrier and stayed in the bay for the night.
The crew rose at 4 a.m. to pursue another day of successful fishing and returned to the same spot using dead squid as their bait.
“We hooked one on the first drop of the day but lost it; we lost three fish before we got the second one that day and one was right next to the boat, but we also dropped it. We didn’t see it but were pretty confident it was a swordfish.”
“We were getting to about 3 p.m. and started to think about heading back. We put out our last drop and it took about twenty minutes to get the bite. We were about to call it quits, and that was when we hooked it. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to snag the 188kg swordfish. At first, we thought we were going to be there all night.”
Using a Shimano 80 wide Tiagra, angler Chook was on the harness and had his first-ever gamefish hooked on, despite the swordfish being caught at the tip of the tail making it hard for the angler.
“I was really nervous for that one. We had lost three others that day,” said Lucas.
“We got it to the boat pretty quickly, but with the hook in the tail, it kept going under the boat and doing powerful runs away from us and we had to drag it up to 18 kilogrammes. Eventually, it tired out before we did.”
By the end of the day, it was too late to head back to Auckland, so they weighed the fish on Great Barrier. The next morning as they cruised back to Auckland they cut and bagged up the fish.
“I’ve been gamefishing for 20 years, and those have been the better two days of fishing I’ve ever had. There was hardly ever a dull patch, and there was always something happening on each drop.”
Unfortunately for Josh, he missed out on rolling in the deep with these broadbills.