Chasing Swordfish in Cabo


It took us a full three-and-a-half days to prepare the boat after the delivery to Cabo from California. The trip down was uneventful, too rough to fish but okay for travelling. Based on what I saw, it actually looks like the local season may be a good one! We had brought down two years worth of spare parts, supplies and filters. Bob Hoose had also supplied us with about 25 Penn reels — new Torques and a bunch of new Internationals. We had to match the reels to rods and spool them up with new line.

On the hunt for Swordfish in Cabo Anthony Hsieh, Ron Ashimine and several guests arrived for our first Cabo trip of the season. Anthony also brought two of his daughters, Amanda and Lauren. I spent the night before our first fishing day enhancing all of the satellite shots from Ocean Imaging and laying out the breaks on my plotter. I spent a good hour tweaking the shots until everything lined up as it needed to be. I had some dope that was more than a week old about an area that had some fish, and I was checking out all of the other areas that I knew used to hold.

“We were looking for swordfish — everything else was incidental.”

We were also told bait was an issue and I had some lined up for us, at least 25 pieces. A good friend of mine, John Dominic, called and told me about some yellows on one of the local banks. I had heard the fishing was slow but at least we had a place to start.

Our group departed at 6 a.m. and headed to the yellowtail grounds, Capt. Johnnie from the Scrambler decided he would go with us for a day. He’s a super fishy guy and I was glad to have him come along.

Unfortunately we only got 10 cabillitos, we also got a hodgepodge of other stuff to pin on the hooks, including grunts, mullet and lookdowns. (There were also a few “can’t evens,” as in “Can’t even figure out what the heck they are.”)

With the Viking’s speed, we made it from Puerto Los Cabos to our spot in 20 minutes. Johnnie hooked the first yellowtail of the day on the first drift, a fish of around 30 pounds. A fog bank was headed at us so we only had time to make about three more drifts. I wanted to get offshore and start looking for swords. Each successive pass looked better than the last. By the final drift the yellows had built up to the point that they were boiling on the sardines we were chumming with. We had a triple on the last drift. We scored seven yellows in about an hour, none under 25 pounds and one close to 35 pounds. The toll was one broken rod and another one smoked out of a guest’s hands over the side. I can still see the bubble trail… Still chuckling.

I was going to start offshore where the fleet had seen the swords. As I approached the area it was evident we weren’t going to make it as the guests weren’t feeling too hot. I called T.J. and asked him how rough it was. “It’s ok as long as I don’t try to turn around,” he said. That didn’t sound like great spotting conditions.

So I headed to the second area that looked good on the Ocean Imaging charts, a typically calm area that’s great for spotting. As we got close to the projected color edge, we were actually looking for greener water and we began to see more and more marlin. We were casting everything in the tank at ‘em, it looked like we had cleaned out the Sea World aquarium. Watching the guys cast the lookdowns was pretty funny from my angle. Ever try to cast a paper plate? We finally figured out that if we cast them on 20-pound with a super-short leader they would fly right. We caught a couple marlin and a sailfish. It was really looking good and I kept tellin Johnnie that we’re gonna find one. The marlin were everywhere and not a boat in sight.

All of a sudden Johnnie says, “Wait a minute I might have one here. Yep, yep it’s one.” Swordfish! Yeehhhaaaaw!!!

I start going that direction and we get about a mile when a striper bumps into the sword and scares the crap out of it, whitewater flying off both fish in simultaneous explosions. Johnnie is bummed. That was a great spot probably 1.5 miles away. I keep tacking around, going back to where the fish was several times for nothing. Giving up hope.

Then Anthony yells up from down below “Eliseo thinks he has a swordfish at 11:30 and 100 boat lengths.” That’s over a mile. I knew he was in the 16x down below so I figured the 100 boats was good. I turn the boat to 11:30, pick up the Frasers and… Swordfish! There it is flaggin. “It’s a nice one,” I tell Johnnie.

Anthony gets ready on the bow. We are completely out of cabillitos. All we have left is a mullet. Anthony pins that on. I slide the boat slowly into position and Anthony makes a perfect cast with his Penn 30VSX full of 80-pound Spectra with an 80-pound mono top shot. The sword immediately charges the half-dead mullet and inhales it just 50-feet off the bow. I can vividly picture this huge fish inhaling the bait, I was calling it 300 pounds. The fish stopped, shaking its head twice, gills flaring. As it spits the mullet out I notice the bait begins to follow the confused swordfish. Figuring it got snagged somewhere as it was eating the bait I told Anthony to strike the fish and we were on.

The sword does the usual 100-yard run and settles in for a brute fight. At one point it charges the boat and the leader knot comes out of the water right next to the boat. The fish is as purple as they get. We pull the hook 20 minutes into the battle after a series of weird maneuvers. What a let down.

The next day we head out again. We are going to spend the night on some bottom-grabber spots so we don’t take the whole crowd, just Anthony and his girls, Ron, Eliseo and myself. We only catch one yellow that second day. We get back in the sword zone and it is the same movie with the marlin. Today we only have two cabillitos, and we’re saving them for a swordfish. After baiting I don’t know how many marlin and catching a couple, I finally spot a swordfish. It’s more than a mile away. I start yelling for Anthony to come up and drive as it is just scratching and I didn’t want to lose it. He comes up and we start running over to the fish. Anthony picks it up and I get out of the glasses. I am pretty sure this was the fish Johnnie had found the day before.

Once again Anthony makes a perfect cast. I watch the bait go straight down and see the fish start to sink out on it. I ask Anthony if he’s bit, and he replies, “Not yet.” Right then I see the bait running back for the boat so I nudge it in reverse and the swordfish comes up and grabs the bait on the surface right on the edge of our wheel water! After a nice feed, Anthony sets it up and he’s on — again. Two swordfish hookups in two days with almost none around…

We must be living right.

The battle is 100-percent typical swordfish, with switchbacks, charges at the boat, elliptical circles and that brute strength just out of gaff range. We want this one so bad; I’m a nervous wreck with every headshake. Finally after just more than 30 minutes we get our shot and Eliseo slams it home, Ron was quick to back it up and so was I. This one wasn’t getting away. I am guessing it would have dressed at 135 to 145 pounds, and probably 175 pounds whole. Congratulations Anthony!

I wanted to run in, hang it and get a weight, but Anthony had been promising the munchkins we would spend the night on some outside stones. So glad we did, it was a blast, but that’s a whole other story.

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Capt. Steve Lassley grew up fishing swordfish, rock cod and albacore commercially. He bought his first fishing boat at age 17 and has made a living fishing ever since. He has more than 20 first-place tournament wins to his credit, and is approaching $7 million in winnings. "Most of us guys spent our whole lives trying to be as undercover as we could about where we were and what we were catching," he says. "It's time people heard about not just what I did but what some of the best fishermen did, captains whose work ethic and accomplishments I respect — people that most guys have never even heard of."  He's logged thousands and thousands of days fishing California and Mexico waters, and is now fishing Hawaii as well. He was one of the first captains operating out of Mag Bay, exploring this fertile area for months at a time. In his “As I See It” column, a BD Outdoors exclusive, he shares many of the things he has learned over the years. Steve heads up Team Bad Company, one of the West Coast's top tournament crews.