Billfish: The Best Time to Catch Them & Where to Go

Updated on July 19, 2022

The Three Major Billfish Species

Billfish is the general name used to describe some pelagic species that have a distinctive spear-shaped bill attached to their upper jaw. These fish include sailfish, swordfish, marlin, and spearfish. Of these fish, the first three mentioned are the most sought after because of their size, strength, and elusive behavior. Luckily these trophy fish can be caught in a variety of places and make them accessible to anglers everywhere.

Where are Billfish Found

Bill can be found in the oceans of the northern and southern hemisphere but are typically only found in warmer waters. Swordfish prefer the warmest water temps of the three and usually stay within the tropical zones. Marlin, particularly blue marlin, are more tolerant and move freely between tropical and subtropical waters of the world's oceans. Sailfish can be found in a the largest range of temperatures, with these fish being caught from tropical to temperate waters.

Fishing For Billfish Sailfish Fishing Charters

The Best Time to Catch Billfish

The best time of year to catch certain fish species is debated by anglers around the world. We will break down the general peak seasons for swordfish, marlin, and sailfish in North America below. Depending on weather conditions, location, currents, and a variety of other factors your results will vary.

Typical when talking about marlin fishing, anglers are targeting the blue marlin. The best time to target blue marlin typically runs from summer into early fall while water temperatures are warm. While black, white, and striped marlin are also exceptional sportfish, Their seasons and availability may vary slightly from blue marlin peak seasons. Although the peak season for marlin comes in the summer, these fish can be caught throughout the year.

Sailfish are popular for being some of the most acrobatic fish you can catch despite their size. Fishing for sailfish is also a year-round event especially in the more tropical waters of Southern Florida. The best time to head out in search of sailfish tends to come in the spring and fall when water temperatures are shifting. These fish can handle a wide range of water temperatures but they are most active when conditions are mild.

Potentially the most elusive of the three swordfish have the most debated peak season. Spring and summer are a great time to target swordfish anywhere from Hawaii to Virginia. The fall is also a great time to target these fish in the Atlantic but this tends to be limited to the East Coast. Despite swordfish having a preference for warm water temperatures, they’re available year round in areas and currents with elevated temperatures.

Best Places to Catch Billfish

All of these fish can be found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico but some destinations stand out when it comes to landing one of these behemoth pelagic species. When it comes to marlin, destinations like Cabo, Hawaii, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas are at the top of the list. When targeting Sailfish, the Carolinas are a great spot but Southern Florida is the top choice. The area around Fort Lauderdale is nicknamed Sailfish Alley because of how prominent these fish are. Swordfish are interesting fish to target and some of the best opportunities come from the Gulf. If swordfish are at the top of your list head to Texas, Alabama, Florida, or South Carolina.

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