An extremely acrobatic and fast fish, the sailfish is a staple of sport fishing in Costa Rica. Once hooked, a sailfish will spend half of the fight out of the water twisting and turning as you try to maintain tension on the line. Found in huge numbers all over the country, this trophy fish is on the wish list of almost every angler. Sailfish are so abundant here that it is common to have double digit days and even get two hooked at the same time.
DESCRIPTION: As the name implies, the most outstanding feature about the sailfish is their sail-shaped dorsal fin. The collapsible fin is extended when swimming to help this speedy, narrow fish turn and to appear larger to prety. Generally cobalt or navy-blue in color, some sailfish have spots and show stripes when hunting. Another member of the billfish group, the upper jaw extends two to three times the length of the bottom jaw to form a spear used to stun fish when hunting.
FEEDING HABITS: Sailfish like to feed on squid, small dorado and various other types of pelagic fish. Blessed with terrific speed, they use their elongated upper jaw to stun their prey in powerful blows. Sailfish can swim up to 50 knots and generally live alone or in small groups of 2-3 individuals.
SIZE: Adult sailfish generally range from 7-10 feet in length. Juveniles grow very quickly and can grow 4-5 feet in one year. Most sailfish weigh between 60-100 pounds, though sails over 100 lbs quite common in Costa Rica. The Pacific Sailfish found in Costa Rica are much bigger than their Atlantic bretheren, with the world record being 221 lbs.
WHERE FOUND IN COSTA RICA: Sailfish are found in warm, tropical waters all over the world. Most often they are fished for on the Pacific Ocean, but they can also be found on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Although they do occasionally range into shallow waters, they are most often found in deep water past the continental shelf.
BEST MONTHS: Sailfish can and are caught every month of the year here in Costa Rica. Typically the best months for sails in the Southern and Central Pacific regions of Costa Rica (Jaco, Manuel Antonio, & Osa Peninsula) are late November to April. They are so abundant that having double digit releases is a relatively common feat in the high season. The best numbers of sailfish in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica are found from May-November. On the Caribbean Coast fishing is best when the in the dry months of August – October and then again from January to April.