Happy New Year!
The weather was good and the fishing has been too. So when we had the opportunity to fish on New Years Day, We decided to take it. I’m glad we did. The Southbound started the New Year off looking for Sailfish. We have been fishing the Reef mostly the last few weeks, but the last couple of days I have been hearing reports of Sailfish coming up on the bar and chasing the schools of Ballyhoo. This is a fun time to fish for Sailfish as it is more like hunting. You wait for a spray of ballyhoo and/or a frigate bird to dip down to the water. That is usually a good indication that something is feeding, It can be a mackerel, jack, or barracuda, but oftentimes, it is a Sailfish this time of year. When you see them feeding, you pitch a bait to them and, hopefully, it is game on!
We got an early start
Stopping just outside the no-wake zone to catch live ballyhoo. The bait came pretty quickly and with one throw of the net we had over a hundred. That’s plenty of bait for a day of Sailfishing. We headed up to the East from the Harbor. I had heard there was more activity with the Sailfish up that way lately. There was a lot of Bird activity when we got there, but we didn’t see any fish we could pitch a bait to. I decided to set up and slow troll the live ballyhoo and see if we could raise a Sailfish.
To be honest, it was slow.
But when you are targeting a specific fish and a very special one at that, you have to have patience. Fortunately, My people did. We caught a small sharp-nosed shark and one nice “gaffer” Mahi. Every time we got close to the reef, the Mackerels would bite our baits in half or bite our hooks off. Mackerels have sharp teeth and if we were fishing for them, I would have used wire leaders. But we were looking for a Sailfish and they have excellent eyesight. They can be leader shy when using a wire leader. Losing a few hooks is just part of the game.
Most of the day, there wasn’t much bird activity, but toward the end, we started seeing the Frigate birds moving in low on the reef edge. That is s sign that the Sailfish are starting to come up to feed. Once we started seeing the ballyhoo bait fish showering or spraying under the birds, we pulled in our lines and ran over with a “pitch bait” ready.
We pitched at 2 sailfish, but neither of them ate our bait. We saw another bird on the water nearby and ran over to it. There was another Sailfish there. This one ate our bait and we were hooked up. It was a big fish and ran out a lot of line on a 20lb spinning rod. We fought the fish for about 25 minutes, backing down with the boat most of the time.
We released the Sailfish
and went looking for another. It didn’t take long. We saw another bird low on the water, more bait spraying, and sure enough another sailfish feeding. This one ate our bait too and we had our second Sailfish on. This one was a little smaller, but it put on a nice show of tail-walking and jumping. After about 15 minutes, we released Sailfish #2.
By that time we were out of time, so we headed in going 2 for 2 on Sailfish. A great start to the New Year