4. Find and Fish Structure
Irregular bottom contours provide opportunities for swordfish to ambush bait. The current sweeps over these undersea mounds, creating eddies and crosscurrents. Working these structures will provide consistent action. Dobbelaer watches his sounder as intently as he watches the rod tip, announcing approaching seamounts so the angler can adjust the bait accordingly and keep it in the proper zone, just above the bottom.
While swordfishing, the Gulf Stream current constantly sweeps the boat northward, so even though the bow points south, you're really traveling backward with the current, to the north. With the line straight down, 1,800 feet beneath the boat, your bait actually drifts along about 150 feet in front of the boat. The wind-on rides parallel to the bottom, so if the weight rides 10 feet above the bottom at the end of a 30-foot dropper, your bait should be 150 feet south, 40 feet off the bottom.
Dobbelaer and crew get excited when coming off the back of a large seamount. "We get a lot of bites on the backside of large seamounts," Dobbelaer says, "so we assume they lie there waiting for prey to be swept by in the current." Working these mounds requires precise coordination between captain and angler, with frequent drops by the angler to re-establish contact with the bottom.