Offshore Florida Fishing at its Best
When it comes to finding the best offshore fishing hotspots, you needn't look too far. Anglers have plenty of choices to find and catch billfish such as marlin, swordfish, sailfish and other big game fish within the few hundred of miles up and down Florida to The Bahamas and beyond.
With a variety of tournaments year round, seems it's always a good time to fish around Florida. For sailfish and swordfish, you consistently have a good chance to catch them almost any month of the year. The prime season for black marlin and blue marlin is June through February.
While the list here isn't in any particular order, these 10 hotspots for 2019 are ripe for catching and releasing some beautiful specimens. Check out the many tournaments, hire an experienced charter or if you're a true sportsman, head out to bag some 500+ lb. trophies.
1. Stuart & West Palm Beach The touchstone for all other billfish tournaments, The Silver Sailfish Derby of the Palm Beaches is the oldest sailfish tournament in the world, established by the West Palm Beach Fishing Club in January 1935. Celebrating the 82th annual tournament in January 2019, the previous year posted over 60 sailfish releases in 2 days.
2. Key Largo Hosting the Key Largo Sailfish Challenge every January and the Annual Charity Billfish Blast in March, Key Largo attracts some serious competition along with celebrity photo ops. Jimmy Johnson's National Billfish Championship in March is hosted by the two-time Super Bowl winning coach and former head coach at the University of Miami-the winners will receive custom Jimmy Johnson NBC Championship rings.
3. Abaco, Bahamas This past season saw a big wave of white marlin with their annual run down the east coast from New Jersey to Maryland to North Carolina and into the Bahamas. Abaco's Custom Shootout tournament saw 72 white marlin releases, 22 blue marlins and 29 sailfish in 2 days-including 4 Grand Slams-catching four different billfish species in the same day.
4. Fort Pierce Florida hosts a consistent, world-class sailfish bite each winter and spring that lasts from December to well into June. Held in mid-January, the Pelican Yacht Invitational Billfish Tournament out of Ft. Pierce saw 188 sailfish releases over 3 days in 2018.
5. Lighthouse Point Sailfishing may be the king in these waters, but the swordfishing is world class. While they are not monsters, there was a report of a 550 lb. swordfish caught off Lighthouse Point. This was one of only two 500+ lb. swordfish reported in the entire state.
6. Miami With a number of tournaments on the calendar, Miami is a true year-round fishery with both sailfish and swordfish available any month of the year. What they lack in size, they make up in numbers. Last season's highlights logged an occasional blue marlin and white marlin, along with hundreds of sailfish released. In April, Miami Beach Marina hosts the Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament.
7. Singer Island The list wouldn't be complete without the Annual Buccaneer Cup Sailfish Tournament held in late January out of Sailfish Marina. Last year's tourney saw 21 boats battle brutal weather with heavy seas and winds. The first leg of Quest for the Crest, Operation Sailfish was created in honor of the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country-a portion of the proceeds from will be devoted to the military based charity, Operation Homefront.
8. Islamorada The Keyes offer outstanding billfish action. Now, you can fish for the revitalized and elusive swordfish-one of the hardest species for any angler to catch, day or night-and actually have a good chance of catching one. The largest swordfish recently reported was 620 lbs.
9. Fort Lauderdale In February, Bahia Mar Marina hosts the Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament. Also in late February, Ft. Lauderdale is home base for the third leg of the series Quest for the Crest. The Sailfish Challenge, boasts its status as the largest sailfish tournament in the country.
10. Key West Renowned as one of the top fishing destinations in the world, Key West offers the perfect location to host the culminating event in this world class series, Final Sail-the 'grand finale' of the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series. Teams in the 4-leg series are expected to compete for an estimated purse of $3 million dollars in 2019. Here, sailfishing in April can be as good as you'll find anywhere in the world. Recently, a 500+ lb. Blue Marlin was released off Key West.