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There are so many fishing "hot spots" in the world and they all have their season, and usually have one or two species of fish that they are famous for. If I had my mind set on having the ultimate sailfish action, and only had one shot to do it, I would probably go to Isla Mujeras, Mexico in February or March. Even Stuart or Palm Beach, Florida would be considerations for hot winter sailfishing off the East Coast. Hatteras is unusual because our fishing can be hot year round, and the variety is extremely diverse.
Hatteras is not known specifically for it's red hot sailfish season, but we do quite well on the sails all summer, particularly late in the summer, and early fall. It's not unusual at all to get a shot or two at sails from June through September. I have had over a dozen shots in a day, and maybe caught five or six fish, but realistically, a couple of shots, maybe catch one or two is more the norm. The cool thing is that you get these opportunities while fishing for other species, so it's not just sailfishing. It would be no surprise to hook a sail while wahoo fishing in September, or dolphin fishing in June. We do, however, have a pretty good sign of sailfish in the summer mixed in with the white and blue marlin. This is another thing interesting about Hatteras, the opportunities for a grand slam (blue, white, sail, in one day) are always realistic.
We fish for sails with 20 pound tackle. Occasionally we snag one on a 50 while targeting something else, but try to switch them off on a smaller rig. We troll for sails, and I personally like to troll a little slower, say 5.5 - 6 knots.
A typical Atlantic sail will weigh 30-50 pounds, with my biggest weighing an estimated 80. Sailfish are kinda weird when they rise to a bait because they rarely light up at all on the strike. A little brown spot is what often notice before identifying the fish as a sail. Things change in a hurry though, once hooked a sailfish can light up electric blue on their pectorals, tail, bill, and sail. A beautiful display of jumps and tail walking is expected after hooking up. Its also pretty normal to find sails in pairs or even small schools of four or more. Sailfish are also a little unusual in that you can reasonably expect to see one out over 100 fathoms, or inside of 25.
You just never know what you will hook in to, fishing out of Hatteras, but if you are lucky enough to experience a sailfish on light stand up tackle, I'm sure that you won't soon forget it!