It’s Sunday, April 28th, 6:34am, I’m up going through my normal routine of feeding deer, chickens, dogs and watering my garden. It’s my day off…and by day off I mean playing catch up in my home office with the paperwork side of fishing. Chris calls to pass his time while he’s cruising out to his first stop. He has an 8-hour trip today. We start talking about the upcoming week and which days would be the prettiest to attempt to break away and go sword fishing. Today would mark 3 days since I pulled my Dad’s Swordfish off on the wire 10ft behind the boat. I hadn’t slept a night since and Chris is the one who had to hear all about it. Chris was quiet for a minute then blurted out, “Tonight is the night, we’re going. Seas are less than a foot.” That was all I needed to hear. I got off the phone and spent the next 6 hours throwing together all the gear in order to meet Chris at the dock as soon as he got in.
What felt like 30 minutes later, I was standing at the stern of the Backlash loading her up. First mate, Chris Hunter is there. He is spraying and scrubbing off the days meat haul. With the boat loaded, Chris Hunter ran to his house and changed clothes. Chris Kirby opened the cooler I packed and asked where his rigged baits were. It then dawned on me that I had forgot them. With straight panic I told him I would run home or call Jeff, the bait man, and see if he could run me some squids. 10 minutes later I was heading to the tackle shop to pick up squids and hooks. Bait man saves the day. It’s now 4:28pm, Chris Kirby, Chris Hunter, a case of twisted-tea, a few packs of squid, a harness, and myself are headed out of the pass in search of a Swordfish. In search of redemption.
The sun had set and it wasn’t much longer, Chris is pulling them out of gear signaling it is time. Chris started to rig baits while I broke out the grill and started to prep our feast. I already had a good buzz from tea-time mixed with some ultras. Once we landed in Sword country it was about 9:00pm. Chris shut the big girl’s motors off and we began to drift slowly in the middle of nowhere. We let out three baits and began to wait. 20 minutes later, I’m pulling ribeyes off the grill, 50 yards off the back of the boat appears a pissed off, bill swinging Swordfish on top. I threw the plates down, it was pure chaos for about 15 long seconds before I was holding the rod. Ten minutes later Chris Kirby was leaned over the gunnel reaching down to pull this mighty-might out of the water. This girl was healthy, lit up with the bluest cobalt blue down her back and measured in at 47 inches. We snapped a few pictures of her as her eyes swiveled, looking at each of us like we were aliens. With a good luck kiss, I deposited her back into the deep. We all smiled and laughed as we ate our luke-warm steaks and discussed how the trip had already been made.
We reset our baits and finished cleaning up dinner. Chris picked up the jig rod and started searching for a Blackfin. It wasn’t long until he had one on. The three of us shot the shit and drank, telling stories and listening to music. I felt so relaxed and thankful to be alive. About the time the buzz had increased to a cloud, ZZZZZzzzzzZzzzZZZZZZzzzZZZzzzz. There she was. We all ran around the boat like squirrels. I harnessed up as she ran to the bottom. Chris Kirby woke the Backlash up as Chris Hunter reeled in the other lines. This would make the 15th time I was in the harness and saddled in to reel in a sword. Every time prior to this, ended with being a shark, pulling the hook, or some giant eel. While I have been on the boat multiple times as part of the crew, I had yet to ever reel in a sea monster I could call mine. I concentrated on the reel and watched my rod tip position to make sure I didn’t screw this up. Little while later we got our first glimpse of her. She came up on top and was trying her best to escape the lasso she had around her. She made another short run and then came back up and straight down off the starboard side. She was comfy there and refused to come up any further for a harpoon shot. She raised up and made a big run straight under the boat. Chris Hunter unclipped the rod, followed her and yelled “HARD TO PORT”. Chris Kirby blew some diesel smoke and flipped the Backlash around to save it. She would then take off for her final run. With the line straight down and taking drag off the stern, I was hooked back in and waited for her to stop. When she did, I could almost feel how tired she was. (So was I) I started to ease her up and gain back the line lost. 10 minutes later Chris Hunter said, “ Oh shit, shes dead.” I looked up from the reel and saw a tail coming towards me. The fight was over. I never stopped reeling until the swivel hit the rod tip. Chris squared and myself heaved this monster over the side. We all stood in awe trying to comprehend what the hell just happened. The hook had ripped through her dorsal fin and landed in top of her head. The leader completely wrapped around her stomach and then again around her tail. With a smile so big it kind of hurt a little, I grabbed Chris Kirby and hugged him so hard I thought I broke him in half. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. He never gave up and the curse was broken. I was officially holding a broadbill that was mine. My Dad’s face crossed through my mind and a tear ran down my cheek. With some hoops, hollers, high-fives, a little photo shoot, drinks and some music cranking, we celebrated in the middle of nowhere, as a speck of sand in the Gulf. While the rest of the world was sleeping, we rounded back to the spot where the madness began, iced our trophy, and put out some more lines. Chris squared went to sleep a short while later. It was now 4:30am. I watched the moon rise and then the sun. I spent the whole night talking to God and singing Miranda Lambert songs on the back deck as I watched the lines. I thanked God for this harvest. As the sun got brighter the guys woke up. I reeled in our Sword rigs and put out lures. It was time to head back. On the way there we swung by some shrimp boats off in the distance to see if they had any friends hanging around. Sure enough we found some yellowfins wanting to play. What a way to cap it off.
I called my Dad as soon as we came into cell range to tell him what had just happened. Redemption at its absolute finest. Thank you Chris squared. Thank YOU Chris Kirby. Thank you God. My first broadbill, a trip I will tell my grandchildren about.
Thank you for reading,
Shelby Lynn Kirby~