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Sailfish Fishing

Quepos Costa Rica Offshore Fishing

Pacific Sailfish

Istiophorus platypterus

Sailfish Vacation Costa Rica
Sailfish Vacation Costa Rica

Sailfish are species of fishes in the genus Istiophorus, living in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world. They are blue to grey in color and have a characteristic dorsal fin known as a sail, which stretches the entire length of the back. Another notable characteristic is the elongated bill, resembling that of the swordfish and marlins.

Sailfish grow quickly, reaching over 4 feet in length in their first year of life, and feed on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller pelagic fishes and squid. Individuals have been clocked at speeds of up to 68 mph, which is the highest speed reported in a fish. When trolling for these fish, we always keep a few lures near the surface because, at these speeds, sailfish regularly come 3-6 feet out of the water during strikes. Also, sailfish can grow up to 10 ft in length and weigh up to 220 lbs!

Sail Fish Costa Rica
Sail Fish Costa Rica

The sail is normally kept folded down and to the side when swimming, but it may be raised when the sailfish feels threatened or excited. This tactic has also been observed during feeding when a group of sailfish uses their sails to “herd” a school of fish or squid, and their bills to kill them.

Sailfish are caught year-round in Quepos, but can be caught in larger quantities from late November through early May during the “Costa Rica Summer”.

Sailfish Fishing Techniques

Sailfish are highly prized game fish and are known for their incredible jumps. We typically fish for sailfish with either live bait or frozen ballyhoo, insuring the most sailfish “hookups” during your offshore fishing trip. We have all the best gear, including big trolling Shimano Tiaras (50’s and 30’s), 2010 Shimano Bait Runner Spinning reels, Penn Downriggers, Rupp Outriggers, and everything needed to fish however you would like. We also boast Tuna Tubes to keep live Bonita while we are on the hunt and an excellent live well. We always have live bait on the boat even if we don’t plan on using it!

Sailfish Jumping
Sailfish Jumping

Moldcraft Lures

We boast the full line of Moldcraft lures which I feel are by far the most effective way to get any billfish to the top of the water behind the boat. If you fish and aren’t using Moldcraft, you are catching enough fish! (this is a non paid endorsement, but if they decide to send me some free lures, I’ll take them 🙂 )

Bally Hoo

We can troll at speeds between 6-8 knots dragging a combination of rigged ballyhoo and lures/poppers and teasers. We often tempt them into coming behind the boat with teasers and then the mate throws a “pitch” bait to seal the deal. This way works best when we are looking for the sailfish as we cover the most ground.

Live Bait

A major advantage to the Stress Reliever is the tuna tubes which we can use to keep Bonito alive and the huge Livewell that allows us to fish with live bait we bring with us. We fish with live bait often as this brings the most bites most of the time. Fishing with live bait, we troll at slower speeds around 3 mph. As we catch extra Bonitos, we can use our tuna tubes to keep our live Bonitos ready to go! It’s always best to have live bait on the boat because even if the ballyhoo is hooking the sails, you never know when you will find a group of Yellow Fin Tuna!

Spinning Reels

Using either teasers, poppers, or live bait, we can cast or slow troll with our new Shimano 8000D blue water spinning reels! This adds a lot more excitement and challenge to that fisherman who has “been there and done that”. Catching a sailfish on a spinning reel is a lot of work, but well work the reward.

On The Fly

For the experienced fisherman who really wants a challenge, we can go looking for billfish with fly fishing gear. We troll with only teasers until the sails come up behind the boat. Then we quickly reel in the teasers, stop the boat, and you cast out and try to hit the sailfish with the flys. This works best in January/February when there are the most sailfish. When picking your fly, think pink! By far the most exciting and challenging method, the chase requires perfect coordination of Captain, Mate, and Angler. Make sure to bring the big feathery pink lures, as those are the most popular with the fish. A lot of fun.

Sometimes one fishing method works better than the others, but the best method is always changing. Ask Captain John what has been working lately and he can let you know what has been hot lately. As always, the customer can always decide how they would like to fish. Our main goal is just to make the customer happy and send him home with fishing pictures to make all his friends jealous! Click on one of the other species below to see what other trophies can be caught fishing in Quepos Costa Rica on the Stress Reliever! Here’s some more pictures!