Sailfish Description:
Weighs approximately 40 lbs. with a length of 7 feet. This is a very attractive fish with its slender body and variation of colors. The back of the body is midnight blue, the belly is white, and the sides are toned with pale, vertical bars. The sailfish is noted for its cobalt-blue dorsal fin which is much lengthier than the depth of its body and its spear-shaped bill.

Season / Size / Limit:
There is no closed season on sailfish. There is a one fish per angler bag limit and a 63-inch minimum size limit.

Sailfish catch size limit in federal waters is a lower jaw fork length (LJFL)
of 63 inches (160 cm)
Courtesy NOAA

State Record:
Conventional tackle record for sailfish is 116.10 pounds, caught off Boca Raton on April 11, 1987.

Common Names

English language common names include Atlantic sailfish, billfish, Indo-Pacific sailfish, ocean gar, ocean guard, Pacific sailfish, and sailfish. Other common names are abanico (Spanish), aguja (Spanish), aguja de abanico (Spanish), aguja vela (Spanish), atlanticheskii parusnik (Russian), atlantinperjekala (Finnish), atlantisk segelfisk (Swedish), atlantisk seifisk (Norwegian), bashokajiki (Japanese), bicuda (Portuguese), bicudo (Portuguese), caravela (Portuguese), dung dung (Wolof), espadarte-veleiro (Portuguese), espadon (French), espadon voilier (French), malan (Wolof), nishibashoo (Japanese), nishibashookajiki (Japanese), palagar (Spanish), parusnik (Russian), parusnik-ryba (Russian), peco (Portuguese), peixe andala (Portuguese), peixe de vela (Portuguese), peixe-vela (Portugese), pesce vela (Italian), pez vela (Spanish), pez vela de Atlantico (Spanish), pez vela del Indo-Pacifico (Spanish), prieta (Spanish), purjekala (Finnish), segelfisch (German), seilfisk (Norwegian), seilvis (Afrikaans), sejlfisk (Danish), squadron (French), veleiro-de-atlantico (Portugese), veleiro (Portuguese), veleiro do atlantico (Portugese), voilier de l'Atlantique (French), voiler de l'Indo-Pacifique (French), voladeira (Spanish), zegal-fisch (Dutch), and zeilvis (Dutch).

Geographical Distribution

The sailfish is distributed from approximately 40° N to 40° S in the western Atlantic Ocean and from 50° N to 32° S in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has been taken in the Mediterranean Sea, although few records exist for this region. In the western Atlantic Ocean, its highest abundance is in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, and the Caribbean Sea. In this region, distribution is apparently influenced by wind conditions as well as water temperature. In the northern and southern extremes of the its distribution, sailfish appear during warm seasons. These seasonal changes in distribution may be directly linked to prey movement. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, there is an aggregation off the coast of West Africa.

In the Pacific Ocean, the sailfish is widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions. It resides in waters from 45° to 50° N to 35° S in the western Pacific and from 35° N to 35° S in the eastern Pacific. Sailfish are especially abundant off Papua New Guinea and the Philippines as well as from Tahiti to the Marquesas and off Hawaii. This species may also be found in the Indian Ocean to approximately 35-45° S latitude.


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