Fishing Charters in Aruba

Atlantic Sailfish



Sailfish Atlantic
(Istiophorus Platypterus)

Probably the fastest fish in the ocean, the Atlantic Sailfish is originally a member of the Billfish family, getting its name from its spectacular dorsal fin that stretches to the length of its body and is sufficiently higher and thicker than its body. The Atlantic Sailfish can be easily identified from a distance because of its length reaching over 10 feet, with its elongated bill and forked caudal fin.

The Sailfish can majorly be divided into two species, namely, the Atlantic Sailfish and the Indio-Pacific Sailfish that are majorly found in the warmer and temperate parts of the oceans in the world. The Atlantic Sailfish is considered one of the fastest of the marine creatures, and one of the most popular ones in recreational fishing.

Atlantic Sailfish
Habitat and Behavior

The Atlantic Sailfish is broadly related to the Marlin, commonly known as the pelagic fish of the temperate and tropical waters in the Atlantic Ocean. A migratory species, the Atlantic Sailfish keeps on a move about the open ocean and into the Mediterranean Sea. The Atlantic Sailfish ranges approximately from 40°N in the northwestern Atlantic to 40°S in the southwestern Atlantic and 50°N in the northeastern Atlantic to 32°S in the southeastern Atlantic. The fish is known to remain above the thermocline, in water temperatures between 70° and 83°F (21° to 28° C). Evidence also suggests that the Sailfish swims into deeper waters, is less oceanic than other billfish and makes frequent forays into the nearshore water.

The distribution of the Sailfish is such that it is found from approximately 40° N to 40° S in the western Atlantic Ocean and from 50° N to 32° S in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. In the western Atlantic Ocean, the highest abundance of the fish is in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, and the Caribbean Sea. Apparently, in this region, the distribution of the fish is influenced by the wind conditions and the water temperatures. In the northern and southern extremes, the Sailfish can be spotted during warmer seasons.

Atlantic Sailfish hunt upon schooling fish such as the Anchovies, Sardines, and Mackerel. These fish also feed upon Crustaceans and Cephalopods. The immobilize their prey and facilitate their capture in a smaller prey, the Atlantic Sailfish temporarily relies upon stealth, quick slashing or tapping with the rostrum. The adaptive advantage of the bill is not yet known; however, multiple functions have been suggested. The bill is said to have been hypothesized in order to increase the hydrodynamic qualities of the fish and even to ward off the predators. Additionally, it has also been assumed that the Sailfish utilizes its bill in hunting.

Atlantic Sailfish -
Physical Description

  • Size: – On an average, the Atlantic Sailfish is up to 3.15 m (10.3 ft) in length and around 58.1 kg (128.1 lb) in weight. One of the smaller members of the family. Istiophoridae, the maximum length of the Atlantic Sailfish has been recorded to be 124 inches (340 cm) and weight to be 128 pounds (100 kg). However, in Southern Florida, the fish have been observed to be smaller- generally between 68-90 inches (173-229 cm) in length. The largest of the Atlantic fish are usually the female specimens. In the Pacific Ocean, on the other hand, the maximum size of the Sailfish is recorded at 134 inches (340 cm) in length and 220 pounds (100 kg) in weight.
  • Appearance: – Metallic blue in color, the Atlantic Sailfish has a large sail-like dorsal fin with a long and pointed bill-like snout. The upper parts of the fish’s body are dark-blue in color, while the sides are counter-shading, and lighter in color. With around twenty bluish horizontal bars along the fans, the under parts of the fish are silvery white, while the fins are bluish-black in color. The tail of the Atlantic Sailfish is strongly forked, and the front dorsal fin is speckled with small black spots. The anal fins have pale bases.Circular in cross-section, the upper jaw of the fish is modified into a long bill.The Atlantic Sailfish is widely known for changing its color according to its level of excitement. The dark blue and white body with brown spots has about 20 bars, each consisting of multiple light blue dots present on either side of the fish’s body. The Atlantic Sailfish can be uniquely identified because of its upper jaw that juts out beyond its lower jaw, forming a distinctive spear.
  • Organs: – The upper jaw is approximately twice the length of the lower jaw. Of the two dorsal and anal fins, the dorsal fin is larger and taller than the actual width of the body – this fin runs through most of the length of the fish’s body, with the 20th ray being the longest amongst all. The first anal fin is set far back on the fish’s body. The second pair of Dorsal and Anal fins on the fish’s body are approximately equal in size and shape, being short and concave. The pectoral and pelvic fins, however, are almost twice as long and almost reach the origin of the first anal fin. The pelvic fins have one spine and multiple soft rays that fuse together.

Atlantic Sailfish
Conditions for Survival

Majorly found in the Atlantic Oceans and the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Sailfish swims in waters from the surface to the depths of 200 m (656 ft). Known to be members of the Billfish family, the Atlantic Sailfish can be found near the ocean surface, far from the land feeding upon schools of smaller fish.

Atlantic sailfish hunt schooling fish, such as Sardines, Anchovies, Tunas, Jacks, Needlefish and Mackerel although they also feed on crustaceans, bony fish and cephalopods. They also feed on squid, octopus, and schools of smaller fish, which they often shepherd with their sails, making them easy prey. The prey of the Atlantic Sailfish implies that the fish feeds at the surface and in mid-water, along reef edges, or along the bottom substrate. Sailfish attack one at a time, and the teeth on their bills inflict injuries on their prey fish regarding tissue removal. Typically, about two prey fish gets injured during a sailfish attack When hooked they fight to leap and diving repeatedly, fight vigorously, and they sometimes take hours to land or get caught. The Dolphin, Sea birds and few other large predatory fish are known to feed on the Atlantic Sailfish.

Aruba Fishing Seasons and
Availability of Sailfish Atlantic

Abundantly found in the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Sailfish steps in its higher availability season in the Aruba waters in the months of October, November, and December. However, one may also land hands on an Atlantic Sailfish or two during the months of March, April, May, and June.

When January February March April May June July August September October November December
Availability Good Good Fair Fair Fair Fair Good Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent

  • Your Chances of landing the Sailfish Atlantic is excellent from October to December.
  • Sailfish Atlantic in Aruba enters its low season from March to June.
  • There is no closed season for Sailfish Atlantic fishing in Aruba.

Atlantic Sailfish
How to make the Catch?

Considered the ultimate game fish, the Atlantic Sailfish can be easily caught using Baits, Lures, Hooks, Rods, and Reels. Experiences suggest that using the most popular trolling bait, known as the small Ballyhoo rig works wonders for the Sailfish that is swimming deep down in the water. It is, however, recommended that you use live baits to attract the fish. The Atlantic Sailfish can be easily hooked by trolling, with either a whole mullet or ballyhoo as bait.

To ease your catch, you may use large pilchards, speedos, blue runners and sardines (considered one of the favorite snacks of the Sailfish). You may also use troll with the plastic lures when no sails are in sight, thereby saving the bait in time of need. You must use a wide range of teasers such as soft plastic baits, including mullet, ballyhoo, and squid. It is mandatory to carry hooks of various sizes and shapes of good quality.

Atlantic Sailfish
Eating for Humans

The Atlantic Sailfish tastes its best when consumed baked or fried. However, the meat being relatively tougher and rarely sold unless smoked, the Atlantic Sailfish has very little value as a commercial fishery. The Recreational fishermen though are quite sought after the Atlantic Sailfish. Popular locations for hunting for an Atlantic Sailfish include Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Windward Island, and the Gulf of Mexico.  In the Indo-pacific, the Sailfish are taken as bycatch by the commercial Tuna longliners.

Atlantic Sailfish
Common Names

The Atlantic Sailfish is referred by multiple names as below-

  • English – Atlantic Sailfish, Billish, Indo-Pacific Sailfish, Ocean gar, Ocean Guard, Pacific Sailfish, Sailfish
  • Spanish- Abanico, Aguja, Aguja de abanuco, Aguja vela, Palagar, Pez vela, Pez vela de Atlantico, Pez vela del Indo-Pacifico, Prieta
  • Russian- Atlanticheskii parusnik, Parusnik, Parusnik-ryba
  • Finnish- Atlantinperjekala, Purjekala
  • Swedish- Atlantisk Segelfisk
  • Norwegian- Atlantisk Seifisk, Seilfisk
  • Japanese- Bashokajiki, Nishibashoo, Nishibashookajiki
  • Portuguese- Bicuda, Bicudo, Caravela, Espadarte-veleiro, Peco, Peixe andala, Peixe de vela, Peixe-vela, Veleiro-de-atlantico, Veleiro, Veleiro do atlantico
  • Wolof- Dung dung, Malan
  • French- Espadon, Espadon voilier, Squadron, Voilier de l’Atlantique, Voiler de l’Indo-Pacifique
  • Italian- Pesce vela
  • German- Segelfisch
  • Afrikaans- Seilvis
  • Danish- Sejlfisk
  • Dutch- Zegal-fisch, Zeilvis

Atlantic Sailfish -
Unknown Facts

  • The Atlantic Sailfish can swim at a maximum speed of 110 km (70 mph).
  • Sailfish overgrow reaching 1.2 to 1.5 m (3.9 to 4.9 ft) in length in a single year and rarely weigh over 90 kg (200 lb).
  • The average lifespan of an Atlantic Sailfish is 5 to 7 years.
  • The Atlantic Sailfish gets its name from its spectacular dorsal fin that stretches nearly the length of its body and is much higher than its body is thick.
  • The meat of an Atlantic Sailfish is fairly tough and not widely eaten, but is prized as game fish. These powerful, streamlined beasts can grow to more than 10 feet and weigh up to 220 pounds. On getting hooked, the Sailfish will fight vigorously, leaping and diving repeatedly, taking hours to land.
  • Known to be the fastest fish in the ocean, Atlantic Sailfish can reach speeds of 68 miles per hour. Their large size and spirited fight make them a favorite among the trophy fishermen.
  • Tests in the 1920s estimated that the Atlantic sailfish was capable of short sprints of up to 111 kilometers per hour; however, more conservative estimates of 37 to 55 kilometers per hour are more widely accepted. More recent studies even suggest sailfish do not exceed swimming speeds of 36 km/h (22 mph).

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Have a Question?
Find the Answer Here

What do the Atlantic Sailfish eat?

The Atlantic sailfish feeds itself on schooling fish, such as Sardines, Anchovies, Tunas, Jacks, Needlefish and Mackerel although they also feed on crustaceans, bony fish and cephalopods. They also eat squid, octopus, and schools of smaller fish.

Are Marlin and Sailfish the same thing?

The Sailfish is related to the Marlin but not the same thing.

How big do Atlantic Sailfish get?

The maximum length of the Atlantic Sailfish has been recorded to be 124 inches (340 cm) and weight to be 128 pounds (100 kg).

What eats a Sailfish?

Dolphin and other large predatory fish feed themselves on Atlantic Sailfish.

Can you eat Sailfish?

Yes, humans can eat Sailfish. However, due to its tougher quality of meat, it gets difficult to consume its meat.

Do Sailfish have scales?

Yes, the Atlantic Sailfish has around 20 rays or scales all over its body.

How fast do Sailfish go?

The Atlantic Sailfish can swim as fast as at a speed of 110 km (70 mph).

What is the world record of a Sailfish?

According to IGFA, the largest all-tackle world record of an Atlantic Sailfish is held by the Angler named, Marco Couto on 12 March 2014. The fish weighed 64.60 kg and was caught in Lobito, Angola.

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