Targeting a sailfish in the waters of Cabo

Cabo San Lucas offers one of the world’s best angling opportunities and people from different parts of the globe come to these waters for a taste of this action. Los Cabos is teeming with game species that fill every angler’s dreams and one of them is the mighty sailfish. This marine predator is also called by a variety of other names such as “Sail”, “Pez Vela”, and “Spindlebeak” because of its long and spindly bills. They are highly coveted because of its outstanding physical traits, massive size, incredible strength, and impressive water acrobatic skills.

Sailfishing Cabo

There is plenty of fish in the ocean but nothing stands out in the swells like the sailfish. Known for their bluish gray color with white underbellies, these game species have a striking dorsal fin that stretches nearly the length of their bodies.  These creatures have the ability to change their colors especially when excited. For instance, it can quickly turn light blue with yellowish stripes to distract its prey and darken to almost black just before an attack.

They say that size matters and the sailfish passes this trait with flying colors. In fact, a fully grown adult can measure around 5.7 to 11 ft and weigh anywhere between 120 to 220 lb. The record of biggest Sail ever caught belongs to Carl Stewart who hooked a whopping 220.62 lb. in the waters of Ecuador in 1947.

If you’re looking for an epic fight, the Sail will give you a run for your money because of their amazing speed of up to 68 miles per hour. Tagged as the fastest fish in the sea, they have no problem dominating any race underwater.  They also have the qualities of a Cirque du Soleil performer with its amazing aerial abilities. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness one making an acrobatic jump during a feeding frenzy. When caught, this strong-bodied swimmer will frantically shake to get free from a hook.

The population of this species is considered stable and they are under no special status or protections. Angling for these agile swimmers in Cabo is relatively good from July to August but if you’re looking for terrific action, September to November deliver the best hook-up results.

Tips to hook a sailfish

Catching a sailfish

If your heart is set on catching one, get a fishing charter in Cabo and let the chase begin. You can use 20 – 30 lb conventional tackle which most boat charters provide. Opt for circle hooks which decrease the risk of gut-hooking especially if you intend to employ catch-and-release.

One of the techniques used for sailfishing is slow-trolling live baits like the ballyhoo. You can coordinate with your captain and crew so they can arrange for this kind of bait before leaving the dock or catch some on the way to the angling spot. A live well on board can sustain live ballyhoo and keep them frisky during your angling trip. Other ideal baits include large pilchards, cigar minnows, blue runners, goggle-eyes, speedos, and large sardines.  The recommended trolling speed is two to five knots, especially when using downriggers. Another technique is trolling lures using spoons, trip baits, and feathers.

Switch-baiting is an effective method which involves trolling teasers without hooks and retrieving them when a Sailfish is raised.  As the teaser comes in, pitch a bait and keep it ahead of the teaser in order to make the switch. Wait until the bait is close to the teaser then pull the teaser away. At this point, the target will see the bait and trigger a strike. Engage the reel the moment it does and let the circle hook pin the Spindlebeak in the corner of the mouth.

Successfully landing one is a matter of teamwork. Everyone in the boat must be aware of his/her part. Coordinate with your captain so he could maneuver the vessel accordingly while the crew assists you in reeling the catch near the boat. Grabbing the bill to remove the hook is no easy feat. Don’t worry, an experienced first mate will help you with this. It’s important to wear gloves at this point because the bill is rough as sandpaper.

Do not take your catch out of the water if you intend to practice catch-and-release to avoid undue stress in the marine animal. You can take souvenir shots while it is still in the water by simply leaning over the side.

When it’s time to release your catch, hold its head down in the water. When the tail starts moving, its head begins shaking, and its color starts returning, it’s time to let the Spindlebeak go.

Come and experience the excitement of chasing after the fastest fish in the ocean by going on a full-day sportfishing trip at Cabo San Lucas.

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