Digest — March 2004
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
The Sword and the RIB
|Part 2: Shortly thereafter they got their first glimpse of the enemy as it rose from the depths.|
Having put at least 30 tuna weighing up to about 150 pounds into his RIB since that first fish, Picone was fairly confident in his fish-fighting system when he headed to Hudson Canyon last September for an overnight excursion to the canyon’s east wall. “We fished about a third of the way down [the wall],” he says, adding that there’s a little “notch” where the canyon drops from 400 feet to around 1,000 feet. His crew fished six lines off the Viking, which was tied to a lobster pot, while he and his current mate Mike Morash sat tethered off, fishing two of their own lines on the RIB. (Picone doesn’t fish the Viking much—he leaves that to the crew.) It was dinnertime, and Picone and Morash were heading back to the boat for burgers when one of the lines on the Viking started screaming and just as fast came to a halt. A few seconds later the 70-pound-class reel on Little Edge started tearing line with the speed of a bullet train. Dinner was on hold. “I thought we had a bigeye,” Picone remembers. Soon after the battle started, the unknown foe darted towards a nearby lobster pot, and Picone thought for sure the battle would be over, his reel’s modest 60-pound mono no match for the pot’s anchor line. “For some reason, the fish came out of the pot,” Picone says quizzically. The pitched battle raged near the pot and the Viking for a half hour before Picone was able to move the fight into uncluttered water. Once clear Picone, Morash, and Little Edge took off into the pitch black, being towed by the still-unknown fish.
Shortly thereafter they got their first glimpse of the enemy as it rose from the depths. “We saw a huge fin and torso, and it came at the boat,” Picone says excitedly, adding, “It took a shot at the RIB! It was the first time we knew we had a swordfish.” For more than two and a half hours, angler and swordfish jabbed, crossed, and hooked each other until both were as spent as two heavyweights in the 15th round. Determined not to lose, Picone pulled strength from his body’s reserve tank and cranked down on the fish. “The swordfish came up boat-side and was pulling slowly,” he recalls, adding, “I assumed it was tired.” Now two and a half miles from his mothership and with only that small gaff onboard, Picone says Morash asked him, “Do you think if we put a gaff in that thing, it’s going to kill us?” (Sounds like a valid question to me.) The two anglers decided to roll the dice and stuck the fish with the gaff. “It [the fish] didn’t do anything,” Picone says, sounding relieved. “I then put my head underwater and wrapped two safety lines around its tail and attached them to the RIB.” The two anglers added two more safety lines to the sword’s bill, and then they removed the gaff from the fish’s back and put it into its mouth as they towed the fish back through the night to the lights of their mothership.
The victorious but battle-worn and weary duo made it back to their big boat and transferred the behemoth billfish onboard. Picone and Morash stepped off Little Edge and onto the rock-solid cockpit of the Viking, and some of the crew remarked that it looked like the sword didn’t go quite as quietly as originally thought. Picone and his mate turned to discover the RIB’s starboard pontoon had been skewered and was steadily deflating. (After all, what’s a great fish story without a close call?)
I guess it’s good that ol’ billfish didn’t tow them three miles.
Previous page > Part 1: Two anglers in a rubber boat battle a hell-bent, behemoth billfish. > Page 1, 2
This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.