Captain Nick Stanczyk lives for the thrill of the chase, especially for swordfish. So much so he was instrumental in helping pioneer the daytime broadbill swordfishing movement, proving these fiercely fighting, nocturnal fish can be caught anytime of day. His natural knack for fishing sparked early. He grew up fishing with his father (owner of Bud N’Mary’s Marina) and his uncle, Capt. Scott Stanczyk. Through Nick’s years of experience, he’s gone on to win numerous fishing tournaments and become an icon in the offshore fishing world.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning when you fish?
What’s the weather doing today? Is it gonna be a rough one?
Where is your favourite place to fish?
Islamorada. We catch such a variety of fish here and the weather is considerably stable compared to other locations.
Tell us a favourite story from a day out fishing.
One fishing trip I will always remember was a two-day booking with a young kid in a wheelchair. He had seen me on a TV show and wanted to go swordfishing for his high school graduation present. The first day we lost two swordfish and I felt defeated. The next day I asked if he wanted to try for something easier to catch and he whispered “swordfish”. Sure enough, we caught two that morning and then he said we could catch the easy stuff for the rest of his family in the afternoon. He reminded me to never give up if you want to succeed.
How do you up your game year after year?
When it comes to fishing, paying attention to the smallest details is a huge factor. I try to learn something every day I go out and I try to fish with other successful fisherman to see what they do different than me.
If you could do anything better, what would it be?
I used to say I wanted to be a better fisherman, but to be honest I would rather find the right balance between time with the family and time at work. My fishing days are long and unfortunately it cuts into time with my wife and daughter. Even when I’m not fishing there is always work to be done on the boat or with tackle.
What haven’t you accomplished that you aspire to do in your lifetime?
After getting married in 2015, I said I'd like to have kids one day and catch a 500 lb swordfish. Well, it's 2018 and I've accomplished both of the goals I set in 2016. We had a beautiful daughter at the end of 2017 and earlier that year I witnessed a swordfish tagged and released off Australia estimated at 750 lbs! In April 2018, I was the captain to a 600 lb swordfish right here off Islamorada. Now, I'd like to have more children and be able to travel with them.
What part of you, or what you do, reflects a spirit of restlessness?
It’s hard to be satisfied when you’re a fisherman. You always want to catch more and bigger fish.
If there is any love-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe what that is?
I have a love-hate relationship with swordfish. Half of my fishing charter business revolves around staring at a rod tip waiting for a swordfish to strike. Fishing for them is extremely boring, but catching them is super exciting. The thing that I hate most about swordfishing is the fight. They are one of the hardest fighting fish in the ocean and big fish can fight for hours. I get sick to stomach and can’t eat anything when we’re hooked up to a big fish. When they get away I always tell myself I hate swordfishing, but sure enough I always go back for more. When I catch a big one I always tell myself how much I love fishing for these gladiators. Some nights my wife says I wake up screaming about fishing. In the morning I don’t remember anything that happened, but I know it’s about swordfish.
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of a reel when a big fish strikes.
What would be your day job if you weren’t doing what you currently doing?
That’s a good question. I really don’t know the answer.
If you could bring anybody in the world with you to do what you love (dead or alive), who would it be?
Zane Grey. He was obsessed with swordfish, just like me.