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sailfish fishing season in Miami   florida sailfish fishing depth  Sailfish size limit florida 

Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus)

Sailfish have three predominant colors starting from the top where it’s dark blue running down the sides it has a brownish-silver tone that fades to a silvery-white on the bottom. The “sail” of the fish also known as the dorsal fin is full of blood vessels that are said by some marine biologist to help in heating and cooling the fish. Sailfish grow very quickly reaching 4-5 feet in just one year. A fully grown sailfish can reach sizes of up to 11 feet long and weigh up to 220 pounds. The record for the largest sailfish caught in Florida was 126 lbs. Sailfish are known for swimming extremely fast and jumping high out of the water when they’re caught. They tire easily so after a couple fast runs and head-shaking attempts they will be easy to real in. Sailfish are the fastest fish in the sea reaching speeds of 70 mph in short burst. Every charter employs different techniques we have set up a comprehensive guide so you can learn everything we know and heard about sailfish fishing in South Florida, Broward, and West Palm.

miami sailfishing charters

How to catch Sailfish in Miami

There is no special fishing equipment required to catch a sailfish. There have even been several accounts of fisherman in Miami catching them from canoes and party boats with dead bait. That being said Kite fishing and Trolling are among the most effective methods of catching Sailfish in Miami. Fishing with an experience fishing captain in Miami can greatly increase your odds of catching one of these prized fish. We spoke to several experience fishing charters that specialize in fishing for Sailfish and they gave us these tips. The more experienced sailfish anglers use multiple kites(4-6) that are positioned between 80 and 150 feet from the boat. The kites let the bait sit on top of the water splashing in and out making the sailfish notice them. Experienced fishing captains also drift baits with flat lines to increase your odds of landing a sailfish. Staying close to the color change allows you to fish the drops where there is plenty of baitfish that attract big sailfish. Drifting near the color change with live bait is another popular method to catch this incredible fish.

sailfish fishing charters

Where to fish for Sailfish

Miami-Dade and Monroe County are the best places to fish for Sailfish.  You need to go offshore and fish the color change where the water changes from green to blue to increase your odds of catching a trophy Sailfish. The depth you should be targeting is anywhere between 80-200 feet of water. In South Florida, the fish are moving south

Best time of the year to catch Sailfish in Miami

The beginning of March till the end of May is the best time to fish for Sailfish in Miami. During the winter is the best time of the year to fish for Sailfish because the swim south to avoid the cold waters up north. The best weather for Sailfishing from West Palm to Key Largo is 72 hours after a cold front passes with northwest wind in the 15-knot range.

The best bait to catch Sailfish

Sailfish will eat dead sardines but the best bait to catch sailfish in Miami is live threadfin herring and live pilchards. Sailfish will also strike artificial trolling lures and rigged ballyhoo but live bait is always the best option. You can also catch them with goggle-eyes, large sardines, small blue runners, ballyhoo, cigar minnows, herring, and mullet as well. You can catch these baits using a Sabiki near any structures or chumming the water is another way to attract bait fish to the boat. You can also use a cast net to catch bait but they don’t last as long with this method and it can be difficult to master the technique. You can buy a Sabiki on Amazon for relatively cheap. We recommend buying the ones with the green balls instead of the red.

Are Sailfish edible?

Sailfish are not very good eating fish so most Anglers release them but they can be eaten.  If you decide you want to eat a Sailfish then the best way to eat them would be smoked. They can also be used to make ceviche. Billfish have some of the highest concentrations of mercury so you might want to think twice before eating them. For children and pregnant or nursing mothers, you should avoid eating any type of billfish including Sails. Make sure you get a Federal HMS Angling Permit before catching and keeping a Sailfish or your tasty dinner can turn out to be the most expensive fish you ever caught.

Florida Sailfish fishing regulations

The minimum size limit for Sailfish is 63 inches lower jaw/fork lengthThe daily limit for catching Sailfish is one billfish per person.  They are protected by the by the Billfish Conservation Act (BCA). In federal waters, you are required to obtain a Federal HMS Angling Permit in order to catch Sailfish. All landed billfish or swordfish must be reported to NOAA within 24 hours at 800-894-5528 or These regulations apply to both recreational and commercial anglers. There is no closed season so they can be caught year round. A current Florida saltwater fishing license is required to fish for all types of saltwater species in Florida. You can obtain a license from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by going online, calling or going to a bait and tackle shop.

If you are looking for additional resources you can check out captain George LaBonte’s book “Sportsman’s Best: Sailfish,” which is a great comprehensive guide if you’re looking to become an expert at catching Sailfish in the Atlantic ocean.

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