Can You Eat Sailfish?

When talking about sailfish, the first thing that comes to mind is them being the fastest fish in the ocean. And the idea of eating the fastest fish in the ocean is certainly appealing. But, it is no surprise that people often find themselves wondering: can you eat sailfish?

Yes, you definitely can eat sailfish. However, most of the time, sailfish are caught as a sport, not with the purpose of eating them. Nonetheless, if you want to eat it, you certainly can. In fact, if you care to look, you will even find numerous ways to cook these amazing fish with speed.

The good thing is you don’t have to look anywhere else. In this article, we are going to discuss sailfish and its edibility in detail. So, if you find yourself wanting to know more, we recommend you read the whole article.

What Is A Sailfish?

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Speed: Maximum of 110 km/h while swimming

Growth Rate: Quite Quick, 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5m) in length in a single year

Sailfish are a kind of billfish. They are very similar to swordfish or blue marlin. They have a very pointed bill, as common with other billfishes. But these fishes are mostly known for and are named after their extraordinary dorsal fins. Their dorsal fins are often taller than their body length and have a sail-like appearance. 

Can You Eat Sailfish?
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Sailfish are natural predators. You can find them roaming in various tropical and subtropical water such as the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean. However, they will sometimes migrate to warmer water conditions if their current environment gets too cold. They have a reputation for being powerful and fast, making them really hard to catch.

Is It Legal To Catch Sailfish?

Sailfish are very hard to catch, which makes them an appealing challenge for many people who wants to flex their fishing ability. Some people even want to eat this amazing fish. However, before venturing into all that, you must know for sure if this is legally allowed or not.

It is definitely allowed to catch sailfish, but they are a protected species. In the United States, sailfish and other similar fish species are under the protection of the Billfish Conservation Act.

Related: Carp Fishing in the United States

Sailfish are mostly caught as a trophy, not as food source. Thus, it is highly encouraged to release them safely into the water after catching them.

How To Catch Sailfish?

As we have repeatedly been saying, catching sailfish is not an easy job. They are faster than any other fishes you might encounter, which makes catching them quite a challenge. Catching these speedsters requires you to have the right equipment and timing.

The best time to catch sailfish is around 2-4 am. You must have a handy rod that is rigged and loaded with live bait.

Relevant: The 7 Best Live Bait for Striped Bass in The Freshwater

Make sure that the quality of the bait is good. After all, you are dealing with a class-A predator. Unless your bait can catch their attention, the whole effort will be in vain. 

Where Can You Go To Catch Sailfish?

Just like any other fish, location plays quite a big role while catching sailfish. These predators tend to hunt in packs. So, if you can manage to get into the right spot at the right time, you have a much higher chance of catching them. 

Thus, we have decided to save you the trouble and found out nine perfect locations where you can have a higher chance of catching the fastest fish in the ocean. Here is a list of these places:

  • Florida Keys
  • South Florida
  • Panama
  • Costa Rica
  • Exmouth, Australia
  • Phuket, Thailand
  • Isla Mujeres, Mexico
  • Kuala Rompin, Malaysia
  • Mozambique, Africa

However, while catching sailfish, remember unless you are out of the states, it is not possible to catch sailfish with the purpose of eating them. Therefore, while fishing in Florida, don’t think of eating your catch.

Related: Carp Fishing Florida

If your only purpose for catching them is to eat them, try other locations.

How To Cook Sailfish?

If you somehow manage to catch this hard-to-catch fish species, then you should know how to cook them properly to get the best experience. After all, this is not a fish which is known for its deliciousness. In fact, they are not easily cookable either. 

The fishy flavors in sailfish vary from fish to fish. Some are very strong, while others are quite mild. Nonetheless, if you tend to like fish with a strong fishy flavor, sailfish would be a delicacy for you. If you do not, well, there are still techniques you can apply to make it edible. 



To balance the fishy flavor, you can use brine solutions. You can also use solutions of salt and pepper, along with other herbs and spices. Besides, due to the strong flavor, it is preferable to serve sailfish as a side dish rather than a complete dinner.

Popular Ways To Cook Sailfish

Though it will require a lot of pre-preparations and an acquired taste, you can still cook these fish meats in various different ways, such as:

  • Smoking Sailfish: Brined sailfish smoked for a few hours is always a great hit. Smoking also helps with minimizing the heavy fishy flavor.
  • Grilling Sailfish: Brined sailfish cut into large fillets and properly grilled is a sure success.
  • Stir Frying Sailfish: Sailfish, cut into small thin strips, can be a perfect addition to your stir fry recipe.
  • Baking Sailfish: Baked sailfish with added butter and lemon has always been a popular choice.
  • Frying Sailfish: Frying things almost always makes them better. Sailfish is no different. Sailfish socked into milk or butter and fried to the desired crispiness is a great way to enjoy this fish meat.  

Final Words

While anyone can see the appeal of eating the fastest fish in the water, the taste of this fish is not for everyone. Besides being a predator of many other fishes, sailfish contain traces of mercury. But don’t be alarmed. These fishes also contain enough protein, minerals, and vitamins. 

Therefore, as long as it is properly moderated and well-cooked, you can enjoy your sailfish without fearing for any health concerns. Well, you can, as long as you are okay with the strong fishy flavor. 

In the article, we have discussed many ways you can prepare your sailfish. You can always try out one of those and see if it is to your liking.

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