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Dec 22, 2016, 4:25 AM

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This week I am officially kicking off the Lady Pamela II sportfishing’s, fish of the week series, where I am going to discuss a different species of fish that we catch here in the waters off south Florida. My kickoff species is the venerable Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans), the most popular of the billfishes found in our waters. These are migratory pelagic fish that range the offshore waters from as far north as Newfoundland all the way south through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, to Argentina. We catch sailfish year-round off Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood, though they are particularly plentiful around January through early May. There is also a fall bite in October and November, with fish showing up following cold fronts as they move through the area. There may not be as many fish this time of the year, but they tend to be very aggressive chasing the baits we put out.

Kitefishing is my preferred method for targeting sails, using live goggleyes as surface baits below the kites. We’ll typically set up in 180 to 220 feet of water with 4-6 baits below the kites. It is always exciting to see fired up sails racing to attack the baits! If the winds are not conducive to kite flying, we will troll rigged ballyhoo with seawitch skirts outside the reef edge, searching for bills. Even if the sailfish are not biting we’ll land bonitos or kingfish on the troll.

Atlantic sailfish can grow up to 10 feet long and over 100 lbs., though the fish in south Florida typically range from 5-8 feet and 50-70 lbs. Whatever size they are, they can put on some fantastic aerial displays that will get the crew in the cockpit jumping. Even more exciting are multiple hookups when a school of sails finds the baits. I recall one trip when six sails hit six baits at same time, skyrocketing out of the water. If only I had a video camera!

Tight Lines,
Capt. David Ide
Lady Pamela 2 Sport Fishing