Pacific Sailfish

Pacific Sailfish are more aggressive than Atlantic Sailfish and at least twice as large. Sailfish are considered the fastest fish in the world and can swim up to seventy miles per hour . The sail is normally retracted and only raised to aid in herding bait, to put off predators, when mating and also possibly to regulate body temperature. Sailfish are known to grow five feet in one year. They may continue to grow to twelve feet and over 200 lb. Sailfish live four years.

sailfish panama gamefish

Sailfish were abundant during the nineties here off Coiba, December through April especially. I believe they must have been spawning, because once long lining began here in mid nineties, it was only four years, one life cycle till they seemed relatively fished out. Sails remained quite scarce until the past two years. I’ve seen many more this last year than I have in the past ten.

Tuna seiners have been banned for over three years now from fishing within 200 miles of Panamanian territory. Longliners have been outlawed for two years in the waters surrounding the Hannibal Bank, from Coiba out past Isla Montousa. Obedience to the law was slow to take, but it appears now, longliners are history. It looks like our sails are coming back.

sailfish coiba island

When sailfish are about, we know it. They free jump, get into our marlin baits and we see them swimming on the surface. When they are in and if our anglers are not dead set on live bait marlin fishing, we can fish for them with lures & Panama baits. A Panama bait is a belly strip filleted off a Little Tunny (Bonito) and tied to a hook. Today you can expect to raise a half dozen sailfish on a good day. Once we could raise fifty or more.

Most guests never wanted to catch more than three or five sailfish in a day. They are certainly beautiful. You can reach a point where you are happy with the ones you caught you don’t want to harass them anymore. We have so many kinds of gamefish here, it's not like Costa Rica or Guatemala, where sails or dorado are all you can expect to catch.

July through November we catch sailfish closer inshore. Sails are a thrilling surprise when trolling near shore for wahoo or when live bait fishing for cubera snapper.