|My First Sailfish from Rompin with Capt Ah Ping|
Although Sailfish can be caught throughout the year (Except during the northeast monsoon which occurs from mid-November to mid-march), the ideal time to fish for them is from August to September, when they are found in abundance. The easiest way to catch them is to use live bait which is always plentiful in these waters.
For live baiting, you will require tackle in the medium range. As a general guide you can use a spinning rod in the PE3-4 range paired with a 5000 or 6000 (Shimano Size) reel loaded with 30lb braid. You will also need 50-60lb rated fluorocarbon leader and Circle hooks (5/0 Owner Size). A moderate drag setting will suffice. This will allow you to subdue the sailfish quickly, without taking the fun out of the process. Avoid using light tackle, as this will exhaust the fish and the chances of its survival upon release are very low. The slime that the Sailfish secretes can cause irritation to your skin, so bring a towel to place on your lap before you take a photo. Also rinse with fresh water if you come into contact with the slime.
|A Juvenile Marlin Caught off Tioman Island|
|Another Sailfish in April in Pekan with Ah Boy|
Sailfish will use their bills to slash at the bait in order to stun their prey. Striking at first contact might spook the Sailfish so be patient. Once the fish has taken the bait, the Skipper will usually set the hook before passing it on to the angler. (This is to ensure a proper hook set using circle hooks) You will see a lot of jumps upon hook up, especially from smaller specimens. The larger ones will have no problem taking up to 100 meters on the first run. Keep your rod tip down when they jump and reel in the slack. It is important to maintain tension throughout the duration of the fight. Once the fish tires, it is just a matter of reeling it in.
Get a friend to stand by with a camera before the Skipper brings the fish on board. The best area for a photo is at the back of the boat. Sit with a towel across your lap. When the Skipper places the fish on your lap, hold the front of the dorsal fin as that allows the sail to remain open for the photo. Your other hand should be closer to the back of the sail to stabilize the fish should it move. Snap a picture and you are done. Congratulations, you have landed your first Sailfish.
Although Sailfish are easy to catch on bait, it is a little bit harder to land them on lures. I have hooked several up on stick baits, poppers or minnows but never had the good fortune to land one. The lures dislodge after a couple of aerial head shakes. This is due to their incredibly bony bills, which make setting the hook a challenge whether you are using treble hooks, single hooks, baker rigs or a combination of these. Well, it just means i have to keep trying. After all, "fishing is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable". I can't remember who said that. (Google it if you must know)
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