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Istiophorus platypterus


  • Dark blue back, brownish-blue sides, fading to a silvery-white belly
  • First dorsal fin is greatly enlarged and sail-like, has black spots, squared off in front and is highest in the middle
  • Pelvic fins are extremely long and narrow
  • Upper jaw elongated into a spear shape
  • Scales imbedded with blunt ends
  • Lateral line curves over the pectoral fin

Similar Species: White marlin, K. albida; and juvenile blue marlin, M. nigricans (both lack the large sail-like dorsal fin of sailfish)

Size: Up to 11 feet (220 pounds)


Offshore waters


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.

Additional Information

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.

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.

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles