Most fishermen and authors refer to sailfish found in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea as Atlantic sailfish. There is, however, some disagreement as to whether Atlantic sailfish is a separate species, Istiophorus albicans and Pacific sailfish is a species Istiophoridae platypterus or all sailfish are simply Sailfish, Istiphorus platypterus. The Genus of sailfish, Istiophorus, is a member of the family of marine fish, Istiophoridae which also includes the Genera Makaira and Tetrapturus, Marlin and Spearfish. Swordfish is an entirely separate family of marine fish, Xiphiidae.
The Atlantic sailfish grows to a maximum recorded size of 124 inches and 128 pounds and a maximum recorded age of 4 years. Most of the Atlantic sailfish population is comprised of juvenile specimens. Like many billfish, female specimens grow larger than males. Population doubling time is between 1.4 and 4.4 years. Atlantic sailfish are a highly migratory species found across a broad range. Although swimming as deep as 650 feet Atlantic sailfish are most commonly found on the surface above the thermocline of near-shore waters both in schools and loose congregations over a general area. Small pelagic fish are their primary food.
Adopted as the state's official saltwater fish in 1975, Florida has an excellent Sailfish fishery. During winter months sailfish migrate southward to warmer waters and are caught regularly off the coast of south Florida. The average size sailfish caught is between 6 and 7 feet and thirty to forty-five pounds. Sailfish swim at speeds up to sixty miles per hour and are renowned for acrobatic antics during a fight. Between November and June we regularly run trips targeting sailfish using a variety of live bait techniques including Kite fishing.