Sailfish are often listed in the top 10 most sought after saltwater game fish. They can be caught in almost any manner including live baiting, kite fishing, trolling, casting lures, popping and even fly fishing.
Sailfish are said to be the fastest fish in the world and can achieve a burst speed of up to 110 km/h (68 mph). It can seem like it if you’ve ever had the experience of hooking one and seeing the zoom off, half the time out of the water, and your reel screaming away!
Here are some interesting facts to know about this incredible billfish.
WHERE ARE SAILFISH FOUND?
Sailfish can be found in both temperate and tropical waters throughout the world’s oceans. It is particularly abundant near the equatorial regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Sailfish are pelagic marine fish that spend most of their adult life within the top most layer (epipelagic) of the up to five layers in the ocean.
Sailfish are closely associated with coastal regions and have limited dispersals. To date no scientific data have shown any sailfish making trans oceanic crossings.
Sailfish are highly visual predators, but appear capable of foraging in low light.
WHAT SPECIES ARE SAILFISH?
The classification of the sailfish has been a subject for debate in recent years.
Some experts recognise two separate species while some now claim they are of the same. The confusion could be the result of there being no distinguishable difference between the two other than the size.
The IGFA lists separate categories for Atlantic and Pacific. The all-tackle world record for info-pacific sailfish is 100kg (221 pounds) in Ecuador, 1947 and for Atlantic sailfish: 64kg (142 pounds) in Angola, 2014.
The maximum lifespan of the sailfish is estimated at around 15 years although they live averagely between 5 to 7 years.
Sailfish grow to a maximum of 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length and can weigh to around 100 kg (220 lb). The most common size caught regularly by anglers are fish that weigh between 20-40kg (45-90 lb).
Sailfish are easily recognized and named after their large sail-like dorsal fin that extends nearly the whole length of their body.
The sailfish’s lower jaw is roughly half the length of its bill.
Sailfish can change their coloration rapidly. On each side of their body are 20 rows of longitudinal stripes made up of many bluish dots. The dorsal fin is scattered with many small, round black dots.
While sailfish are cold-blooded animals, they have special organs next to their eyes to heat their eyes and also their brain. The heating of the eyes greatly improves the vision, and enable them to sustain energy.
Sexual maturity is reached at 135–180 cm lower jaw fork length. Source
Sailfish are believed to breed year round. A female may have 4 to 5 million eggs in one spawning.
Sailfish grow quickly, reaching 1 to 1.5 m (3 ft to close to 5 ft tip-to-tip) in length in a single year.
Sailfish flesh is said to be not good and is not widely eaten, hence are caught less by commercial fishermen compared to other billfish species such as some marlin and swordfish.
The biggest attraction about sailfish fishing is the acrobatic jumps they make and the fight if often very visual as they usually stay on or close to the surface.
Because of its speed and its strength, the sailfish is considered very valuable in the sport fishing economy which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars in some countries.
The best thing about supporting recreational fishing or sport fishing is that it is sustainable as the majority of fish are released alive.
Some of the top sailfish fishing destinations around the world are (in alphabetical order):
- Costa Rica
- Exmouth, Australia
- Florida, USA
- Kuala Rompin, Malaysia