Skip to main content

Sailfish

Illustrator
Duane Raver, Jr.
Season
Open Year-Round

All Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish) not retained must be immediately released to ensure the maximum probability of survival, without removing the fish from the water.

*Special permit required - All private vessel owners/operators recreationally fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish) for personal use in the Atlantic Ocean must obtain an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling Permit. Further limits and restrictions apply.

Consult https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/ or call toll free (888) 872-8862 for specific information and permits.
Size Limit
63 inch minimum (measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the tail fork)
Daily Limit / Person
No Limit
Delaware Range
Atlantic Ocean
Abundance in Delaware Waters
Rare - this species is more common south of Delaware.
General Habitat and Food Preferences
The Sailfish swims at the surface of oceanic waters. It is less oceanic than other billfishes, making frequent forays into nearshore water.

They feed on squids and fishes.
General Description
The Sailfish is dark blue along the upper half of the body, fading to brownish-blue on the lower sides to silver white on the belly.

The first dorsal fin is high, sail-like, blue-black and covered with many small black spots.

The other fins are silver-blue.

On the sides there are 15 to 20 vertical bars (stripes) consisting of several small blue spots.
Did You Know?
Sailfish got their name from the large sail-like dorsal fin.

They are the fastest swimmer in the ocean reaching speeds of up to 68 miles per hour.
Common Fishing Lures and Baits
Sailfish can be caught by trolling rubber skirted lures or natural baits.
Typical Sizes Caught
In general, Sailfish are caught by anglers in the range of 60 to 80 pounds.
Citation Minimum Lengths/Weights
Sailfish are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament citation.
Delaware State Record
Sailfish are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.