Sailboat fishing

Sailboat fishing tends to go with salt water life afloat. Many yacht liveaboard cruising folk say that they do not catch many fish, but it is generally because they do not target the fish type and use the correct rigs. Catching your own fish is often a great way to balance the cruising budget, and nothing quite tastes so good as fresh fish. 

Sailboat Fishing

Sailboat fishing is a lot more than simply throwing a line off the stern and hoping for the best is not going to keep you that well fed. The most common saltwater fish caught off the stern are those generally termed as pelagic fish such as the Spanish Mackerel, the School and Spotted Mackerel, Bonito and Tuna, or sometimes a Dorado (Mahi Mahi or Dolphin Fish). These are migratory ocean going fish that surface feed on smaller bait fish.  Many top anglers will also tell you that saltwater fish bite better on the full moon, or the periods each side of it, so give it a try. This applies to ocean, reef and estuary fishing. There are even some clever digital watches will work out optimum fishing periods, everything helps. I game fishing boat captain friend of mine swears by these watches, and what's more they are quite cheap to buy.

Which surface fish is which?

Sailboat fishing and don't know what fish it is! well then here is a quick guide. Invest in a saltwater identification chart and laminate it for quick reference. Mackerels generally have triangular, sharp teeth and rigid, crescent shaped tails. Barracuda have long needle looking teeth prominent on the top jaw and a soft tail similar to bream.  Tuna and bonito have a cigar shaped body with dark blue or green backs and silver bellies, Bonito generally have horizontal stripes.

The ocean is often a rather barren place for fish, those large trawlers and long-liners don't help the situation much either, but it can simply be a question of fishing where the saltwater fish will be feeding. These areas include the following, so it pays to keep a close eye on your chart depth contours, sometimes a minor course deviation can pay culinary dividends.

Fish signs

Reef systems and those  natural locations where saltwater fish tend to concentrate.  Sub-sea mountains, plateaus, and pinnacles and a rise in the seabed of only 50 feet can produce results on the surface 300 feet above particularly where currents rise off that feature and cause eddies on the surface. I know quite a number of yachties who have installed a fish finder to target reef fish or fish along the continental shelves. Handy backup and a lot more useful that just a depth sounder.

Current lines are where fish are often seen foraging along these lines.  Temperature occlusions also occur and this is generally on the continental shelf where deep and colder waters meet inshore warmer shelf waters. A series of tacks across the line is often very useful.

More fish habitat

Weed Rafts are a floating habitat.  The fish often travel with under the raft using it as protection, and as a source of food.  If you are ever unfortunate enough to end up in a life raft, try and secure yourself to a weed raft if you drift into one, as it has abundant life saving life.

Visual signs of saltwater fish are common.  This is indicated by flocks of seabirds wheeling and diving. Generally they are feeding on surface schools. You will observe signs of surface fish schools jumping as predators chase them. Often schools are chased by sharks, dolphins and other larger predatory fish.  More great sailboat fishing advice. Looking for more information about seafood.