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Sailfish: Istiophorus platypterus

Appearance:

  • Color dark blue on top, brown-blue laterally and silvery white underbelly
  • Upper jaw elongate in the form of a spear
  • First dorsal fin greatly enlarged in the form of a sail with many black spots; squared off front; highest at its mid point
  • Pelvic fins are very narrow and reach almost to the anus
  • Lateral line is curved over the pectoral fin and then straightens to the base of the tail

Habitat:

Sailfish are an offshore species and are associate with waters near the Gulfstream and near the 100 fathom line. 

Behavior:

Sailfish are a rapidly growing species; they reach 4-5 feet in one year.  They feed aggressively on small fish and squid. Off southeast Florida, sailfish move inshore to shallow water and spawn near the surface in summer. Females swim slowly with their dorsal fins above water, accompanied by one or more males when spawning.

State Record:

126 lb, caught near Big Pine Key

Fishing Tips and Facts:

Blue runners, pinfish, mullet, scads, ballyhoo and squid attract cruising sailfish. Sailfish are known for their fast runs, acrobatic jumps and head-shaking attempts to throw a hook. Sailfish tire easily and should be revived after a long fight to ensure their survival. Most anglers release these fish.

Additional Information:

The sailfish is Florida's state saltwater fish.  Its name originates from the greatly enlarged first dorsal fin that runs almost the length of its back and is covered with spots.


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles



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