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Sailfish Protocol

jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
As the weather has started to improve, and we start to get increasing offshore time, some of us have been lucky enough to land a Sailfish (or a few!). The urge is very strong to wrestle the fish into the yak for the iconic photo-op that is the Sailfish Lapdance. Problem is, technically that is an illegal activity:

"An Atlantic billfish that is caught but not kept must be released immediately to improve its chances of survival without removing it from the water"
^ an excerpt from NOAA: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/guides/documents/4_rec_compliance_guide_billfish.pdf

See also:

Even our friends over at EKFT discouraged removing sailfish from the water during the 2015 Sailfish Smackdown.

Now, I'm not going to take the moral high ground here guys; I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit jealous of y'all since I haven't yet succeeded in landing a sailfish from kayak (I'm 0/2 on sails) and I'd be really friggin' tempted to prop that sucker on my lap for a picture and the bragging rights. Obviously, I'm not going to do that. And I am not judging anyone else who has done so either! The point of this sticky is not to belittle the accomplishments of my fellow anglers, all I'm saying is that we have to respect the law and educate ourselves and other anglers if/when we can.

In an effort to be consistent on this lesson, I am trying to get this point across to the webmaster who picks pictures for the "What's biting" section so they do not send mixed signals. I don't want FWC or NOAA coming after any of my fellow forum members.

Comments are welcome.
Scientific articles on the subject are even more welcome.
Off topic remarks or debates will be moderated.
Hobie Kayak angler for life!


  • palmbeachpetepalmbeachpete Posts: 2,624 Captain
    Thanks jcanracer.
  • PottymouthPottymouth Posts: 1,547 Officer
    Nice.. good work..
  • WhelanWhelan Posts: 197 Deckhand
    Great post - Thanks
    2014 Ocean Kayak Trident 4.7 Urban Camo
  • bluewateryak13bluewateryak13 Posts: 185 Deckhand
    This topic was brought up not toooo long ago on another thread. Those laws are in place to protect the fish. Obviously, yes, it's for the best to leave the fish in the water. Any fish that someone doesn't plan on keeping should probably be kept in the water throughout the entire release. I think smart handling and care goes much farther than just "simply leaving the fish in the water." If I was dragged around for 20 minutes by a sail and simply popped the hook out of his mouth and let em go, he'd go belly up and be shark food. It's important not to man handle them and to spend plenty of time reviving them too.
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
    Correct, the credit for original post goes to John McKroid.
    My failure to moderate that thread properly led to a blasé attitude towards the topic, and I would like to correct that in this sticky.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    You certainly have a job to do as a moderator, but I would suggest letting the posters worry about FWC and NOAA coming after them.

    Which governing body in the aforementioned thread couldn't even be bothered to include kayakers when it came to enforcing HMS regs?

    I was on a sail charter a few years ago out of Ft. Lauderdale that was capt'd by a not-to-be-named kid. After a long day of one smallish king we finally get a doubleheader of sails. Big ones. both had swallowed the hook, both came over the transom and were laid out on the deck and measured. 83" and 89" IIRC. Both were hoisted in the air and cradled for pics. Both went back into the water with what I would regard as inadequate resuscitation applied. I doubt either of those fish lived another day.

    Lifting one up on your lap for 30 seconds to get a pic IMO doesn't come close to imparting mortal trauma particularly if sufficient attention is given to revive the fish after it's put back in the water. Unless they are as hardy as seatrout. Then all bets are off.

    Keep up the good work and I hope you get your sail (and red) this year!
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 3,084 Captain
    It is not easy to be a moderator. Nice Post, Hopefully by making it a sticky it will be a good reminder for all anglers, new and old. In last months Saltwater Professional Consulting news email, IFGA Capt. Tony Digiulian reported that we are having the worst overall season in the 30 years that he has been fishing South Florida. Regardless of how others have handled their catches in the past, I hope that we can all use the foresight to exercise due dilligence to preserve this resource for future generations. Thank you Chris.
  • KFOKFO Posts: 109 Officer
    I always thought it would be neat to get an "in the water pic" with a sail similar to what folks do with Goliaths. You'd need calm seas and a buddy but it can be done. Pretty sure the late Jose Wejebe did it on Spanish Fly if my memory serves me correct.

    Soooo much damage happens to a fish when it is removed from water, mostly due to contact with its slime coat on non-hydroplaning surfaces (when it remains in water the coat "hydroplanes" contact more rather than just rubbing off when exposed to air) On the panhandle we used to joke that a cobia ripped off the gaff had more of a chance of surviving than ones manhandled on board then released. (This is speaking from experience, I've seen many cobia with healed gaping gaff/shark scars and I've also seen them float dead to the bottom after a round of pictures)
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    KFO wrote: »
    I've also seen them float dead to the bottom

    That's quite a trick.
  • KFOKFO Posts: 109 Officer
    That's quite a trick.

    ha, poor word choice on my part
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
    KFO wrote:
    I've also seen them float dead to the bottom
    That's quite a trick.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • frankthetankfrankthetank Posts: 863 Officer
    Fyi guys if you do want to keep a sail its perfectly fine no hms required with in state waters but be sure its 63 inches or larger from lower jaw to fork
  • inshore daveinshore dave Posts: 563 Officer
    Great sticky Chris. When (and if) I catch my first sail, I'd want to do the right thing and release it healthy to fight another day. Thanks you for the information. Oh, and good luck getting your sail this year.
    2015 Hobie Outback fishing machine.
  • GarysmoGarysmo Ft. Pierce, FloridaPosts: 1,596 Captain
    Good topic....thanks for posting.
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