The Sailfish is one of the glamour species available to Fort Lauderdale charter fishing boats. The fact that we encounter the vast majority of them within two miles of shore makes them an accessible and often willing target species. We hook many incidental Sailfish while trolling for other species such as Dolphin and Kingfish (a Ft Lauderdale fishing species that is often our "go to" for groups looking for steady action).
These Sailfish mostly strike rigged baits made up of strip baits or dead ballyhoo, but on occasion strike trolled artificial bait. On some days we get multiple shots this way. We can fish primarily for Sailfish while trolling using 'dredge" or "daisy chain" teasers and carefully rigged swimming baits at crawling slow speeds.
This is great fun and a real challenge for anglers as well as crewmembers. But by far the most successful way to catch a Sailfish on a Fort Lauderdale fishing charter is by the use of live bait. Here are our favorite methods to present live bait to these Sailfish.
Ft. Lauderdale Fishing Kites
When we really want to target sailfish on a Fort Lauderdale fishing trip, kite fishing is the way to go. Kites are specially made in varying weights for differing wind conditions. They range from an ultra light for use in minimal wind velocity up to a "Force Five" for extra breezy days. We fish two or three live baits on a single kite.
A typical "spread" employs two independent kites. These live baits are dangled at 75 foot intervals just under the surface of the water along the main kite line via a small sliding release clip. When a Sailfish strikes the bait and your reel engages tightening the line, the clip releases its hold on your fishing line putting you in control of our Florida state fish. Double hook-ups are not uncommon. And on a good day even a triple or quad hook-up. Kite fishing allows us to present our baits across a large area and in a way that can fool most leader conscious fish into an aggressive take as all the leader material is essentially above the surface.
Keeping the leaders in the optimal position is a result of constant attention and adjustments to the presentation of your live baits by our mates or yourself if you prefer hands-on fishing. A properly presented bait is held at the surface in this manner and not allowed to rest as it constantly struggles to swim downward against the applied vertical tension. This struggling sends vibrations through the water attracting the Sailfish to the bait. Our baits of choice are Goggle-eyes (aka Shad), Threadfin Herring, Tinker Mackerel, Pilchards and Blue Runners (from the Jack family). The Fort Lauderdale fishing areas offer numerous locations to catch these various baitfish or they can be purchased directly from professional bait boats.
Traditional Sailfish Presentations
On many a day a frisky live bait "livie" is fished off an outrigger or "flat line" and gets eaten by a hungry Sailfish. We fish flat lines and outrigger baits often in conjunction with our kite baits, but we also fish them alone in a more "traditional" approach to Sailfishing. Under certain conditions the "spread", when fished at a slow troll from outriggers and flat lines, is from four to six lines along with a teaser presentation designed to draw fish close to the boat. The previously mentioned baitfish work well, but there are three that excel with the traditional presentation.
Ballyhoo when fished alive from riggers and flat lines take the most Sailfish. Ballyhoo are bite size and spend a lot of their time running for their lives from one predator or another. Speedos and baby "bullet " Bonito also work well when fished this way as they are difficult when used under kites. Downriggers are often used along with the surface lines for these baits.
Fort Lauderdale fishing offers an opportunity for Sailfish 365 days a year. Late November thru April are our better months with January and February being the best.
A typical adult fish is from six to six and a half feet. On rare occasions they exceed seven feet. We catch little three to five footers mostly in the fall and they are a lot of fun. Perfect smaller fish with the aggression that explains why they grow so quickly. A slim and graceful acrobat the Atlantic Sailfish is Fort Lauderdale fishing's golden girl. One of natures most beautiful fish and a favorite of many an angler she will wow you with her leaps and impress you with her "give it all fight" right up to boat side. A truly great game fish, which is why almost ALL Sailfish caught on our boat are released.