Sailfish are two species of fish living in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world. They are blue to gray in color and have a characteristic erectile dorsal fin known as a sail, which often stretches the entire length of the back.
Another notable characteristic is the elongated bill, resembling that of the swordfish and other marlins. They are therefore described as billfish in sport fishing circles. Both species of sailfish grow quickly, reaching 4-5 feet in length in a single year, and feed on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller forage fish and squid.
Individuals have been clocked at speeds of up to 70 mph, which is the highest speed reliably reported in a fish. Generally, sailfish do not grow to more than 10 feet in length and rarely weigh over 200 pounds.
Sailfish Fishing Locations
The Yucatan peninsula, in Southeastern Mexico has superb sailfishing. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, the Mayan Riviera, and numerous other spots on the eastern and northern sides of the peninsula have Sailfish guides and sailfish charter boats available, and deep sea fishermen can have a blast fishing for sailfish in the Caribbean, off of the Yucatan.
Billfishing off of Northern Venezuela is superb. With numerous coastal towns from which sailfish guides and sailfish charter boats are available, anyone heading to the nation for an angling vacation will quickly be immersed in world class deep sea fishing.
Brazil has vast prime waters for offshore fishing. Abundant Atlantic sailfish thrive in the warm Atlantic Ocean here, as do other big game fish. The world record Atlantic blue marlin, and the record white marlin were both taken off of Vitoria, just north of Rio de Janeiro, a location with famed sail fishing.
Baja California, Mexico has some of the best deep sea fishing in the world. The Sea of Cortez (also called the Gulf of California) between the peninsula and mainland Mexico is rich with bluewater gamefish, including Indo-Pacific sailfish.
Guatemala deep sea fishing for sailfish is unbeatable. Its Pacific coast gives way to waters that may have the best sailfish fishing in the world. Sailfish Charter boats that catch double-digit numbers of sailfish in single days are not uncommon, and the usual other big game fish also abound in its Pacific waters.
Costa Rica also has some of the best sailfishing in the world. Similar to those in Guatemala, the waters off of Southern Costa Rica team with offshore fish, making for occasional double-digit catch days on Sailfish charter boats.
Bluewater fishing for sailfish is a great recreation in many tropical and subtropical areas. Listed above are some of the best bets for successful deep sea sailfishing.
Sailfish Fishing Techniques
Sailfish will strike artificial trolling lures, and thousands are landed each season on rigged dead trolling baits. Success requires either a little bit of luck or a lot of skill on the part of your sailfish fishing charter captain and angler.
Live bait requires only the allocation of time—some days, not much time at all. Goggle-eyes are worth their weight under two conditions: one, kite fishing for numbers is your main objective, and two, no other supply of similar baits is readily available. Blue runners of about 6 inches—not the big monsters—are a close second, followed by larger pilchards and herrings.
For flat lines or deep lines, pretty much anything that kicks will do. Once you have your bait to the sailfish, you have to think about getting said sailfish to the boat. For as slow and awkward as they seem when trying to eat your bait, sailfish are explosive, determined fighters that will challenge the tackle and angler alike.
Sailfish Flavor And Cooking
Most people consider the sailfish a sporting fish with not much use as table fare, however most fish can be good depending upon how you care for your catch after it’s caught and preparation methods. I’ve eaten mackerel and bonito that were fantastic – and I’ve also had white sea bass and albacore that were terrible.
If you immediately bleed and ice your catch, it will typically help a lot; and the sooner you cook the fish after catching it, the better it is. A great way to find out a good sailfish recipe is to ask your sailfish fishing guide or sailfish fishing charter crew for their favorite recipe – they are usually more than happy to share.
Sailfish are highly prized game fish and are known for their incredible jumps. The sailfish can also rapidly turn its body light blue with stripes when excited, confusing its prey and making capture easier, while also signaling its intentions to other sailfish.
Sailfish are world-renowned for the challenge they provide even the most experienced anglers. In fact, there isn’t much science knows about this species of fish, except what observations fishermen have gathered from encounters with it throughout history. Even as well known as they are, sailfish are a difficult species to study because they are highly migratory and are typically found many hundreds of miles from shore.
These two factors make it very difficult for scientists to locate, tag, and collect data on sailfish. Even so, there are hundreds of sailfish guides and sailfish charters that can get you out to where you catch them successfully.