Istiophorus platypterus

Northern WA, Southern WA, NSW/ACT, Southern QLD, Northern QLD, NT
Bay, Ocean, Offshore, Reef, Structure

While 2 species of Sailfish exist which are essentially the same, Australian anglers are concerned with the fish that lives in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. In actual fact, most authorities consider Sailfish as a single species.

Sailfish are a fast growing fish and can actually grow around 1.2-1.5m per year. They feed on the surface for pelagic foraging fish and squid. They are extremely fast swimmers and can reach speeds over 100km/h. They are one of the fastest creatures in the ocean. They can grow up to 3m in length.

With stats like that, you know Sailfish are prized game fish. Sailfish can reach 120kg but any fish over 45kg is a good catch.

The fact that they go so fast and have the ability to make huge jumps excites just about all Aussie game fishermen.


Sailfish get excited too. You can see this by the changes in colour of their body. They will change into a range of colours from brown to vibrant purples and even silver. Sailfish are very easy to identify because of their large dorsal fin. The body and sail have dark and light blue spots.

The upper jaw spear is slender and more than twice the length of the lower jaw. The ventral rays are very long and extend almost to the anus.


Sailfish are more common than was previously thought. They can be found from inshore shallows, reefs, dropoffs and even thousands of kilometres out to sea. Many experts say they congregate where nutrient rich waters of the coastal waters meet the open ocean. Because these regions carry a lot of plankton, there are plenty of baitfish for the Sailfish to prey on.

You will find Sailfish from Cape Leeuwin in southern Western Australia and tropical waters around the east coast as far south as Port Stephens in New South Wales. Some of the best fishing grounds include off Exmouth, Karratha and Broome in Western Australia.


Inshore anglers should look for a reef with a drop off. Garfish is accepted as the best bait for chasing Sailfish. 6kg fishing outfits are considered the minimum requirement but you might want to consider fishing a little heavier. Circle hooks are considered the best tackle. In proven fishing grounds, Sailfish can also be taken by trolling live or dead baits of Mullet, Mackerel, Rainbow runner or other medium sized baitfish. Baits with plastic or feathered skirts seem to do well.

Sailfish are also readily taken on lures, including pusher or doorknob type lures and minnow lures. Sailfish are also becoming increasingly targeted with fly gear and teaser baits.

Depending on the conditions, skipping baits are another option but a well-rigged swimming bait should always be kept for a last option.