Pacific Sailfish

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Culinary Details

Food Rating : 7

Their flesh is firm and meaty, like swordfish or tuna, however it lacks the mildness of one or the rich flavor of the other. Sailfish is cooked in the same ways as those two fish, though it requires some extra steps. This is a good fish to eat when its smoked, broiled or baked.
Nutritional Values:
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Flavor Profile:

Seasonality, Forms, Yields, Shelf Life & Quality Control

Availability & Seasonality

Product Forms & Yields

Shelf Life & Quality Control

Average Weight/Length

5.7 to 11 ft (1.7 to 3.4 m) 120 to 220 lbs (54.4 to 100 kg)

Location Habitat

Inhabits tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally caught in lesser depths and from ocean piers. Pelagic and migratory, sailfish usually travel alone or in small groups. They appear to feed mostly in midwater along the edges of reefs or current eddies. Its outstanding feature is the long, high first dorsal which is slate or cobalt blue with a scattering of black spots. The second dorsal fin is very small. The bill is longer than that of the spearfish, usually a little more than twice the length of the elongated lower jaw. The vent is just forward of the first anal fin. The sides often have pale, bluish gray vertical bars or rows of spots. Oceanic and epipelagic species usually found above the thermocline. Most densely distributed in waters close to coasts and islands. Most likely schools by size. Undergoes spawning migrations in the Pacific (Ref. 43). Feeds mainly on fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods.

Biology & Physical Description

Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed. Recent acoustical tagging research suggest that this species is quite hardy and that survival of released specimens is good. Sailfish are highly prized game fish, and are known for their incredible jumps and great speed. They can swim 100 m in 4.8 sec. They can appear in a startling array of colours, from subdued browns and grays to vibrant purples and even silver. Their body colours are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue and silver dots. Sailfish can change their colours almost instantly—a change controlled by their nervous system. The sailfish can rapidly turn its body light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, confusing its prey and making capture easier, while signalling its intentions to fellow sailfish. Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 47-53; Anal spines: 2; Anal soft rays: 12 - 15. Body elongate and compressed; upper jaw prolonged into a very long beak; two dorsal fins, the first very large and tail; pelvic fins narrow but very long, almost reaching anus, with 1 spine and 2 rays; body covered with small, embedded scales with 1 or 2 blunt points; back dark with about 20 bluish vertical bars; belly pale silver; membrane of first dorsal fin blue black with numerous dark spots (Ref. 55763). A slender billfish with a high, sail-like first dorsal fin

Life Cycle & Mating Behavior

Seems to spawn throughout the year in tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific with peak spawning occurring in the respective local summer seasons. Spawning occurs with males and females swimming in pairs or with two or three males chasing a single female (probably a mating behavior). The ripe ovarian eggs are about 0.85 mm in diameter and have a single oil globule; there are no structures on the vitalize membrane and the egg is transparent. Eggs shed from captured female in the Indian Ocean averaged 1.304 mm in diameter.

Geographic Species Map ( Map)

Summary of Distribution: Indo-Pacific: tropical and temperate waters approximately 45°- 50°N and 40°-35°S in the western Pacific, 35°N and 35°S in the eastern Pacific; 45°S in western Indian Ocean and 35°S in eastern Indian Ocean. Entered Mediterranean Sea from Red sea via Suez Canal. Highly migratory species, Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Ref. 26139). Some authors recognize a single worldwide species, Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw & Nodder 1792) but we follow Nakamura 1990 retaining the usage of Istiophorus platypterus for the Indo-Pacific sailfish and Istiophorus albicans for the Atlantic sailfish in recognition of the differences between them.

Note: Distribution range colors indicate degree of suitability of habitat which can be interpreted as probabilities of occurrence (

Sport Fishing Techniques

Gill nets

Gill-nets are the dominant gear in the Indian Ocean. Gill-nets are used in artisanal and semi-industrial fisheries, contributing to 30-40% of the total catch. The net design is comprised of continuous panels of uniform mesh size, aimed to trap fish behind the gills. The International Sustainable Seafood Foundation (ISSF) notes that rates of sharks and turtle by-catch in Indian Ocean gill-net fisheries are high..

Kite Fishing (Rig)

A Kite Fishing Rig is....

River Drift

River Drift means to use the....

Commercial Fishing Techniques

Pelagic Longline

This fishery uses a longline to catch a variety of pelagic fish on the high seas such as tuna and swordfish. A deep-set longline is used to primarily target tuna and a shallow-set longline is used to target swordfish or mixed species including bigeye, Albacore and yellowfin tuna. Baited hooks are attached to a line that floats in the ocean using buoys and flagpoles.

Tackle & Baits

Trolling Light and Medium sized Big Game Lures with Skirts. They will also attack and eat Larger Lures, and of course live bait at slower trolling speeds.

Game Rating

Game Rating : 9/10

Game Description :

Very good. Great for fight and acrobatics. Beautiful fish.

Food Rating

Game Rating : 7/10

Game Description :

Their flesh is firm and meaty, like swordfish or tuna, however it lacks the mildness of one or the rich flavor of the other. Sailfish is cooked in the same ways as those two fish, though it requires some extra steps. This is a good fish to eat when its smoked, broiled or baked.

Picture (Fish)

Picture Mount

Product Specs

Available Sizes: 36 in. - 130 in. Details: Fired-Enamel Glass Eye Optional Coating: UV Inhibitive Polyurethane Outdoor Coating