Sure, they are the smallest of the bill fish but they make up for it in sheer doggedness and tenacity. This is enough to catapult their status to the top when it comes to deep sea sportfishing charters.
Here in Playa del Carmen we catch the Atlantic Sailfish. There is also the Pacific Sailfish which gets a bit bigger. Our sailfish generally run in the 65lbs to 80lbs range. We catch some monsters as well.
We are extremely fortunate in that our sailfish fishing grounds are ¼ mile from the mouth of our marina here in Puerto Aventuras. (Puerto Aventuras is the main marina serving the Riviera Maya)
Although the actual speed is debated, there is no doubt that the Atlantic Sailfish is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) fish in the sea.
Alert anglers aboard our fishing charters will often see Atlantic Sailfish trailing the spread, sometimes sweeping back and forth as they check out the baits/teasers.
One of the first things that strike you when you see this fish is the neon color. These sailfish constantly flash colors while in predator mode.
Suddenly there’s a flash and the sailfish has swatted the bait with her bill. This is how she hunts. She stuns the bait and then turns and gobbles it up.
Quicker than a blink, the captain yells “fish on” and the mate grabs the rod and throws the reel into free spool.
This allows the bait to fall back as if stunned. This is when the sailfish actually takes the bait.
The mate does a slow count and then hauls back on the rod to set the hook. The rod is transferred to the waiting angler.
The rodeo begins !
Suddenly that sailfish leaps completely out of the water. Shaking like a wet dog she falls back into the water. Before you can regain your composure she has taken off tailwalking. Walking on her tail, she tries to throw the hook. There is nothing quite like it!
If you’ve never caught a big fish, you might not know how much work it can be. This is no bass!
Pumping the rod and reeling as fast as you can, it’s amazing. The fish doesn’t appear to get any closer!
That’s when you are tempted to tighten that drag. DON’T! Tighten that drag and you will likely pull the hook. Don’t want that.
You are reeling as fast as you can. Your arm is burning. The sailfish gets to the boat and you are thinking “Miller Time”.
Not Yet! Most likely the sailfish will take one look at that boat and peel another 400 yards of line.
You are right back where you started. But this time she’s just a bit more tired.
The battle continues until this time she doesn’t have the energy to fight any more.
If the situation allows, the mate will bring her aboard for a quick picture. That fish is back in the water within 15-30 seconds. We want to minimize the stress on the fish.
The mate gets her back in the water. He holds the bill until he’s sure the sailfish has perked up.
It is wonderful to watch them swim off. Glowing like a billboard she disappears back into the crystal clear blue water.
That’s what it’s like to catch a sailfish!
The Atlantic sailfish is a metallic blue fish with a large sail-like dorsal fin, long and pointed bill. It is darker on the upperparts and lighter on the sides (counter-shading), with bluish vertical bars along the flanks; the underparts are silvery white.
Length is up to 3.15 m and the maximum published weight is 58.1kg