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spindlebeak, bayonetfish

These are the easiest of all the billfish to identify. Their tall, arching dorsal fin is filled with blood vessels and is used to regulate the fish's body temperature. Its back and dorsal fin are dark blue, sides are silver, and belly is white. The visible lateral line runs from the tail to gill plate. The bill is usually twice the length of the fish's lower jaw.

Sailfish will migrate in deep, warm waters, but they're known to move near shore for feeding.

Sailfish eat squid, octopus, mackerel, mullet, flyingfish, needlefish, and other small fish. Although they travel in deep water, they will usually feed in mid-depths. Given the proper bait population, sailfish can exhibit the same group hunting characteristics as white marlin. Since the net ban, they have been spotted balling baitfish over reefs in Key West. "Balling" occurs when an number of predators herd a school of baitfish into a tight ball near the surface of the water. Two or three predator fish will keep the bait organized while the others feed from the ball.

Generally released by American anglers, sailfish are kept by Mexican and Central American anglers.

While there is very little known about the overall life span of sailfish, it is believed that they can grow up to four or five feet in their first year. It is also believed that Pacific sailfish can grow much larger than their Atlantic counterparts.

Sailfish are unbelievable sprinters that can reach up to 68 miles per hours. When hooked, they will dump a lot of line and put on an impressive acrobatic show in their initial run. However they will lose stamina quickly. Anglers commonly troll medium-sized lures and baits in middepth waters for this fish. Throw out an extra bait on heavy spinning gear whenever a sailfish is hooked. They tend to travel in packs ranging from three to 30, making chances for a double hook-up very good. Sails are prime targets for medium-tackle bait-and-switch or flyfishing. Once incited, they will pursue a baitfish longer and more aggressively. This gives anglers a good chance of luring a sailfish from a teaser to a hooked dropback bait.

141 lbs. 1 ounce Luanda, Angola (Atlantic) 221 lbs. Santa Cruz, Ecuador (Pacific)

70F to 86F

More Species:
Dorado | Marlin | Rooster Fish | Sailfish | Snapper |
| Tarpon | Tuna | Wahoo

Information courtesy of Salt Water Sportsman


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