If you're an angler and saw the movie 'The Perfect Storm' then I'd bet that you came away, as I did, with two abiding images. The first would be of the longliner tk, out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, climbing the glassy, impossibly steep, underside of a huge swell and, inevitably, being flipped over and swallowed by it.

The second one, though, was memorable in a much more positive way. It was of the crew hauling the longline and sliding on board broadbill after broadbill after broadbill swordfish.

Now, broadbills are cousin species to the marlins and sailfishes, but much more elusive to anglers than they are. Once, broadbills were very rare angling catch indeed. The only shot you had, it seemed, was to spot one cruising/basking close to the surface, when its tailfin and dorsal stood out clearly out of the water, much more proudly than those of other billfish do. Then, and only then, did the angler drop his bait - live squid or small tuna, a bonito maybe, into the water, letting out about 60 yards of line which a crewman held, then stripping off another 25 yards that was left coiled on deck so that when it hit, the fish could be given slack to turn and take the bait. After that, the skipper would kick the boat ahead and there'd be the classic big game strike, with the drag powered up and the fish hit time and time again until the angler is confident the hook-up is solid.

Even then, the odds were stocked up against the angler. Foul-hooking often happened when a broadbill was struck, much more commonly than with other billfish species, so there was a wrong angle of play, or a drag set at the right load for a mouth-hooked fish but too heavy for a foul (skin) hooked one.

Meantime, even when one was spotted, it rarely did take the bait. Sails and marlin seem to have very little fear of a boat - indeed they are often attracted by a thrashing, bubbling wake (maybe they take it for a shoal of baitfish). That isn't true of broadbills though. Boats scare them. So what the skipper has to do is cruise at minimal revs and try to present the boat within 20 ft or so of the fish. Upon which, in the great majority of cases, the broadbill would simply slide beneath the surface and disappear.

There was - and maybe there still is - another way of going after broadbills which has a strong claim to be recognised as the most boring fishing technique known to man. This happened - happens? - in Portuguese waters, and this is the way it went

At some insane hour of the morning - around 3am I recollect - you and the other anglers boarded a sort of mother ship on the beck of which was piled a number of 'aiolas' - small , maybe 12 ft, rowing craft. The mother ship proceeded out to sea for about three, or maybe four, hours before reaching the commercial longlining fleet at about the time they were hauling their lines. Then, with your gear and an oarsman, you transferred to your aiola which was lowered onto the sea. After that, all day long, your oarsman kept you in position, rowing against the tide, while you fished with a live Rays bream set to swim fathoms deep - I can't recall how many but it was a hell of a lot The theory was that down there, broadbills were feeding on the fish that the longliners were hauling and, indeed, maybe once a week, or a month, a broadbill was caught.

All that was a long time ago - back in the 60s. Since then, though, the secret of catching broadbills has been solved - well, as much as you can solve it. In the old days, game fish anglers had never cottoned on to the fact that broadbills were nocturnal feeders. They should have, of course, because traditionally broadbill commercial liners had always operated at night.

The breakthrough came in Florida in the 70s, when anglers first tried drifting at night with a bait fished deep - often around 70 ft - in conjunction with a light stick. From Florida the method spread worldwide.

Except to the north-eastern Atlantic, where we live. The truth is, of course, that we, in these islands, think of billfish as exotic, warm water species. The truth is that Xiphias gladius (underlined) the broadbill swordfish, is of worldwide distribution in warm and temperate (like our) seas. Indeed you'll find them as far north as Iceland.

And, as I learned a while back, they are regularly caught by longliners operating around the Porcupine Bank, around 80 miles west of Galway bay.

Anyway, last year I'd arranged to go out with one of these longliners out of Castletownbere in West Cork. The fishing method he used was to shoot the long lines in the evening, then haul them at first light so it occurred to me that maybe he'd be willing to let me use rod and line at night, drifting with a light stick. Unfortunately though I suffered a bad knee injury out in the South China Sea in a boating accident and had to cancel.

That's on the mend now, I hope, and I'm starting again from scratch on my broadbill venture. It may take a year or two before I can set up a real rod-and-line expedition, but that is what I'm hoping to do. And, now that the bluefin (giant) tuna fishing is a proven possibility, it'll be good to turn to something new.