Sailfishing in Miami

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By: Jennifer Agress

Go Fishing in Miami, the “Sailfish Capital of the U.S.”

With its abundance of saltwater fish, Florida is one of the world’s top sportfishing destinations. And while there are countless species of fish that can be caught in the Sunshine State, sailfish – named Florida’s official saltwater fish in 1975 – are one of the most prevalent.

In Miami, fishing for sailfish is a popular sport. It’s easy to see why: Sailfishing is accessible for novice and experienced fishermen alike. Both challenging and thrilling to catch, sailfish are swift, agile and beautiful creatures. With their impressive dorsal fins and long upper jaws, sailfish are highly celebrated as trophy fish.  

Sailfishing Season

With South Florida’s year-round warm temperatures, it’s always fishing season in Miami. However, when it comes to sailfishing, the best time of year is typically from late November through April, when seasonal cold fronts push sailfish to migrate south to Florida. During winter, sailfish start to actively feed in South Florida, meaning boats can catch and release anywhere from 10 to 30 sailfish during just one day out on the water. The best chance of catching sailfish is when the wind blows out of the east, driving schools of baitfish – and therefore sailfish – closer to South Florida’s shores.

Where to Find Sailfish

You don’t have to go far off Miami’s coast to find an abundance of hungry sailfish. In fact, most Atlantic sailfish can be found hunting for food on reefs and ledges just 130 to 300 feet off the coast. Other popular areas for sailfishing are in Government Cut (between Miami Beach and Fisher Island), in and around the Florida Keys and off the coast of the Palm Beaches.

As with any type of fishing, what you find will depend on weather and environmental conditions. That said, South Florida is one of the top sailfishing destinations in the world. Its unique geography allows avid fishermen to spend all day within sight of land, catching all the sailfish they could want, and be back at the dock within 20 minutes to take advantage of the many wonderful restaurants, cultural activities and nightlife Miami has to offer.

Sailfishing Tournaments

Test your skills against other sailfishing enthusiasts by entering one of Miami’s annual sailfishing tournaments.

Miami Billfish Tournament of Champions: This elite fishing tournament caters to anglers of all skill levels and centers around billfish, dolphin, tuna, wahoo, cobia and mutton snapper. It starts with a Captain’s Kickoff Party, and moves on to the competition, a Dockside Baywalk Festival and a final Dock Party, Weigh-In Celebration and Awards Party. For more information or to register, call (305) 598-2525.

Quest for the Crest: This three-part sailfish series has stops in Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The winning team is awarded a major cash prize, as well as the famous burgundy jacket. The jacket adorned with the famous crest represents the highest level of achievement in sailfishing. For more information or to register, call (954) 725-4010.

While these are a couple of the top sailfishing tournaments in Miami, plenty of other sailfishing competitions can be found throughout the year just south of Miami, in the Florida Keys.

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