Captain Sheriff Reveals Techniques and Video of Double Sailfish Hookup While In Key Largo, Florida.
Captain Sheriff, owner of Captain Sheriff's Fishing Charters in Warwick, Rhode Island, fishes the Florida keys frequently during the winter months and can charter or set clients one up with a qualified captain for these waters. The Florida Keys inside and outside reefs are abundant with bait fish in the winter months and this is the ticket for hot Sailfish action.
The favorite bait for Sailfish is ballyhoo and the key to successful sailfish hookups is getting live ballyhoo. This is done by anchoring up on the outside of a patch reef, just ahead of the reef making sure you are not anchored in the fragile corals. You will need to check the current and wind to see where you anticipate your chum is going to end up because you would like it to over a large section of the reef where the ballyhoo should be. The chum can be purchased from your local tackle and bait store which you will put in a open mesh chum bag to be tied to the boat. In some cases, you may have to move to another reef if ballyhoo does not show up in your chum line after about 20 - 30 minutes.
The most effective way is to catch Ballyhoo is with a cast net. If you do not have one or know how to effectively throw a cast net , they can also be caught on very small hooks tipped with squid or shrimp using an ultra light spinning tackle. Once you catch what you feel is adequate, venture out to the edge of the outside reefs in the 60 - 180 foot depth such as the Elbow Reef, French Reef, Alligator Reef and many other outside reef along the Florida Keys. I prefer utilizing spinning tackle for maximum sport. 7 foot rods with quality bait runner reels holding approximately 300 yards of 25 pound test line. Hook size is 3/0 to 7/0 depending on the size of the ballyhoo. A long leader utilizing a Bimini twist is preferred.
Slow troll by bumping the engine in and out of gear or even drift if you think you are on fish. Outriggers can be utilized as well. Make sure you set the clip tension very loose. Keep the bait runner reel in the position that lets line out very freely with little tension. Sailfish hit the bait with their bill in an attempt to kill the bait, then they come back and eat it. Any tension or unnatural look or feel will spook them .
When you hookup, hang on, they are going to put on a show and take a lot of line in a very short time. You will probably need to run then down with the boat so you do not get spooled. A center console boat is nice because you can go forward and not have to back down on fish. I have a 25 foot Sea Craft with twin Mercury 200hp Optimax's in the Keys.
Attached is a Double Sailfish Hookup I encountered where the first sailfish was caught and released in about 30 minutes ,The other sailfish was released after a one hour battle. We caught and successfully released four Sailfish that day. After that we caught five Mahi's, two Kingfish and lost 1 Marlin after a few seconds since spooling the reel.