GONE COASTAL: Florida's sailfish offers on-the-water excitement

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 05:00 AM.

While they are typically caught in water 80 to 240 feet deep, sailfish, unlike other billfish, can be found in fairly shallow water and, though not common, have even been caught off piers in south Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico near Panama City.

Look for color changes in the water, Lerner said, and fish along them. When the water goes from an inshore green to a deep blue you are in the right spot.

Sailfish can be caught in every region of Florida, but they are more abundant in south Florida in the colder months, from October through March.

“Cold fronts drive bait south, and fish run an interception,” Lerner said.

In areas of north Florida and the Panhandle, such as Panama City, they are more abundant during the summer and fall months.

Sailfish have been regulated in state waters at least since 1988, when a possession limit of one billfish per person was implemented, sale was prohibited, and gear was restricted to hook and line.

Today, there is a recreational bag limit of one billfish per person. Billfish includes blue marlin, white marlin, roundscale spearfish and sailfish. This means you can catch and keep one only billfish species per person, per day. There is no daily bag limit in federal waters for sailfish.



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