Sailfish in South Florida

November 08, 2015 by Eric Reynolds

Trip Info


Sailfish season has finally started!! November usually marks the start of Sail Fishing in South Florida with cooler temperatures and shorter day. With water temperatures starting to drop and as the bait start their migration south for warmer climates, pelagic species are soon to follow, especially Sailfish. As our weather pattern shifts with the occasional minor cold fronts roll in, winds shifting out of the northeast will make for some great action just off the reef line (100’-300’). The best areas to start looking for these magnificent billfish are on the western edge of the Gulf Stream locating the color change, where the dirty water coming off the reef meets the cobalt blue waters of the gulf steam. This is a great focal point and is a great starting point. Weather and water conditions can change by the hour so it is important to keep a watchful eye on your surroundings.

Once you’ve found some productive water, either on the edge of a color change, or down sea of a free jumping sailfish, you should set a drift. Finding the wind direction and current direction and positioning the boat where you will be in “the zone” for the greatest portion of your drift. Some will use the motor to bump it in and out of gear and some guys will use a sea anchor, it’s all preference. The use of multiple kites to suspend your line and keeping you live bait right at the surface is one of the most exciting ways to fish for Sails. It allows the angler, more times than not, to experience the sailfish trying to bill the bait as he feeds. This also is a great design for multiple hook ups. Although kite fishing is really for the dedicated angler it just takes time and practice to get it down. Baits of choice are goggleyes and herring or pilchards. Kite fishing will also produce explosive Kingfish and Blackfin Tuna bites so I like to use a small piece of #4 wire on my fluorocarbon leader. For the guys that just don’t want to deal with the aggravation of kite fishing the old bump and slow troll live ballyhoo works great too! Also remember to par face conservation when targeting sailfish and use non offset circle hooks. This will increase the survivability rate once you release your sailfish after a few quick photos. 

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