There might not have been exactly ideal fishing conditions Tuesday morning offshore out of Venice, but that didn’t stop Capt. Peace Marvel from likely placing his seventh swordfish into Louisiana’s Top 10 record books.
Marvel, who operates Peacekeeper Charters, said angler Phil Hanberry of Hattiesburg, Miss. reeled in a 260-pound female swordfish in 5- to 6-foot seas, and if certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, it will become the No. 5-ranked sword in the state.
“And I thought it was bigger, but she was thin in the tail,” Marvel said. “Another month here feeding, and that fish would have been 300-plus.”
Marvel headed out of Venice Marina about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, and said Hanberry hooked up around 9:30 on the bottom in 1,500 feet of water out of South Pass.
He battled the fish for two hours and 40 minutes, and Marvel said they drifted 1.3 miles during the fight.
“I have a rule on my boat,” Marvel said with a chuckle. “If you reel the fish from hookup to gaff, you keep the sword. If you pass the rod, I keep the sword.”
Hanberry was up to the challenge, and reeled in what was swordfish No. 302 in Marvel’s career.
“And every single one of them was cranked in by hand,” he said.
Marvel said the sword smashed a 10/0 Mustad hook with squid sewn onto it. Hanberry used an 80-wide Shimano Tiagra reel spooled with 80-pound Daiwa Saltiga line on a custom-made FishStyx rod with Winthrop guides.
“Normally, you hook one and he’ll pull out 10 feet of drag then come to the top like a rocket,” Marvel said. “But the bigger ones typically dig in the beginning. When it digs early, it’s either a thresher shark, a foul-hooked decent fish or a big one.”
Marvel at first suspected Hanberry's bite was a thresher, but the fish finally turned and shot toward the top.
“She threatened to jump a few times, but never did break the surface,” he said.
The battle waged on for hours, and finally the big sword came alongside Marvel’s 34-foot catamaran.
“Everybody was screaming and yelling,” he said. “I stuck the flying gaff in it and we hurried up and got a tail rope on it.
“It was pretty hectic, then it took four of us to pull her over the side.”
Marvel said landing a big female sword is pretty unique out of Venice. The fish was already species-certified Tuesday afternoon by a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at Venice Marina.
“About 95 percent of the swords we catch here are males. I have no idea why, but nobody knows anything about swords,” he said. “There have been some studies, but where they live and spend most of their lives is completely unobservable.”
For Hanberry, his first swordfish ever will likely be in the Louisiana record books for years to come.
“It was on his bucket list,” Marvel said. “Now it’s in his bucket.”