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Winter Time Brings Plentiful Sailfish to Florida Keys

Majestic+sailfish+enjoying+the+beautiful+cool+water.
Majestic sailfish enjoying the beautiful cool water.

Majestic sailfish enjoying the beautiful cool water.

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Majestic sailfish enjoying the beautiful cool water.

KC Spaulding, Fishing Columnist

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In these winter months, you may seem to find plentiful amounts of sailfish on and off the edges of the reefs in the Florida Keys.

These are truly one of the most interesting fish there are. There are so many different ways to target them; also there are all kinds of baits and ways to trick them into getting on the other end of the line.

Here are some of the best ways and baits to use to catch them. The bait you have determines the way you are going to fish.

The three baits that work best for kite fishing is: goggle eyes, threadfin, and pilchards. You can also use these baits for flat lining or rigger fishing. The bait that works best for rigger fishing or flat lining is ballyhoo or pilchards.

For sight fishing for sailfish, ballyhoo or pilchards work best. Sight fishing is one of the most interesting ways to catch them, but can only be done with a tall tuna tower so you are able to see the fish before it’s too late and they swim away.

The simplest way to catch them is flat lining or rigger fishing. This technique is done by putting four to six lines out the back and slowly bump trolling around in 60 to 250 feet of water. The reason we use the outriggers is to get the lines spread out away from the boat and it prevents tangling from happening.

Another effective way to catch sailfish is kite fishing. Kite fishing allows you to get more spread from bait to bait, which may lead to more bites.

The most difficult and challenging way to catch sailfish is sight fishing. Sight fishing is how it sounds – driving around in the shallows of the reefs in anywhere from 20  to one 100 feet depending on the water clarity. This technique can be mastered with lots of practice.

The key things you want to look for are blue water and east or north tide. These are the best conditions to catch sailfish in the Florida Keys.

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Two fishermen display their catch.

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Winter Time Brings Plentiful Sailfish to Florida Keys