Report: Sailfish Caught in Cape Cod Canal (Video & Photos)

Thanks to Cape Cod Tackle and Adam Edgell for the video. Original 8-minute video can be found below.

According to Mike at M & D’s in Wareham, a billfish of some kind was caught in the Cape Cod Canal Tuesday night at Murderer’s Row. At approximately 7:30AM Wednesday morning Cape Cod Tackle Facebook page posted, “I just watched a video on a customers cell phone of a guy catching a Marlin in the canal last night. I ‘m not kidding I said a Marlin. Caught at the Murders row last night. I’ll post pictures later when he sends them to me.”

“They thought it was a shark at first, so they cast back out and hooked up. It was hanging around in between the pilings, which is even more strange,” Mike told us when we called him later that morning.

At about 7pm Wednesday night, Mike also added to his Facebook page:

“I should also point out they tried to revive the fish but it did not survive. The fish ended up having the braid wrapped around his tail cutting deep into the front of the tail area. fish was caught on a custom rod/Shimano Baitrunner reel 50 lb braid and a Storm Blue Herring swim bait lure. anglers name withheld for now.”

Whether this fish was a white marlin, sailfish or some kind of other billfish was widely debated over the last 24 hours. White marlin have been caught recently in areas just a few miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, but the visible dorsal fin on the back half of the fish shown in the first two photos released Wednesday morning suggested that it could have been a sailfish.

At 9:30AM Thursday, Mike sent us two more photos, the first of which shows the sail being held up, putting the debate to rest.

As more information comes in, we’ll keep you updated.

Editor’s Note: Although we do not know the details of whether this particular fish was retained, we have received several inquires regarding the legality of retaining a sailfish caught from shore in Massachusetts. Probably because such an event is so unlikely, the rules are not explicit and we will not attempt to interpret them. According to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries website, federal (NOAA) rules apply for billfish, and according to the NOAA website (, “Vessel owners/operators who recreationally fish for or retain … billfish in Atlantic Federal waters… must obtain an HMS Angling category permit … Vessels fishing exclusively in state waters are required to obtain the HMS Angling permit if they wish to keep their regulated tunas … Vessel owners/operators should check their state regulations regarding the retention of … billfish in state waters.”  The NOAA HMS site explicitly addresses fishing for Atlantic tuna without a vessel, but does not include billfish in stating that “only permitted vessels may fish for Atlantic bluefin, bigeye, albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack tunas in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. If one of these species is caught incidentally during fishing activities from shore or from an oil rig, it must be released immediately.”


56 on “Report: Sailfish Caught in Cape Cod Canal (Video & Photos)

    1. justin

      Hi guys my name is Justin . I was the one who caught the sailfish..

      1. Thomas Swiader

        Hi Justin, just to give you the heads up I am the owner of final image taxidermy (, let me know if i can preserving that trophy for a lifetime!

      2. Jackie

        Hi Justin. Nice catch!!!!!!! It’s David’s daughter. My dad told me all about this fish. That’s so kool. Talk about right place, right time!!!!

      1. RICH

        I’ve caught 100’s and 100’s of Sailfish over the length of my career as a Charter Captain in the Keys and Bahamas. I tag and release all of them as I do with all Marlin. But I ‘ll tell you this….I’d have stuck a gaff in that fish the first chance I got and felt real good about it !!! What else would you do…go to your favorite bar and tell everybody … ” I just caught and released a Sailfish in the CCC” ? Yeah right !!! There’s not enough booze in any bar to get people to believe you !!
        OUTSTANDING catch Justin….pretty work. Get it mounted and enjoy your catch forever……just as any other true fisherman would.

  1. Bill O

    Why Release it.. they only have a 4 yr life span in the wild and Sailfish are fairly abundant throughout their range, and their population is considered stable. They are under no special status or protections

    and it snot like there are 100 canal fisherman out there catching these and keeping them. its once in alifetime. BTW they are used in dog food by the USA.

    so calling this one fisherman ignorant is basically ignorant by you

    1. BIG-RY

      Oh ya and besides I was talking to a guy tonight that knows the fisherman who caught it and he said it was dead when they finally got it to them it had fought so hard spooled him twice and between the stress and weakness the fish had died

      1. justin

        It was an amazing fight man. Lucky to have had the chance to hook up with something like that soo close to shore.

    2. Eric

      First off Sailfish can live over 12 years in the wild, that has been proven through tagging data as well as age and growth studies.
      Second, Sailfish are definitely NOT used in dog food in the US. It is illegal for any commercial fisherman to retain or sell any sailfish, marlin, or spearfish.

      1. Bill O

        Check National Geographic for the data. you can argue with them on life span and where they are used. it was under the fast facts on sailfish

    1. jim

      Sailfish are a member of the Marlin Family and that fish boys is a White Marlin

      1. Bill O

        I don’t know marlin or sail but yeah must of been unreal to fight while balancing on rocks. My back hurts just typing about it.

      2. andy nabreski

        I’m going with longbill spearfish, not a sailfish or a whitey.

      3. gerard dial

        i also find from the top 2 photos it looks very much like a sail fish

      4. jimmy

        def a sailfish….google it, marlin don’t have a sail on their back lol

  2. Jeff

    Awesome catch by a Ditch Rat. As far as being a Sail fish, I don’t think so. Sail is much more prominant on a sail fish. White Marlin gets my vote. As far as keeping it. They tried to revive the fish but failed. Cudos on the great catch and trying to save the fish

    1. Sharky

      I have a white marlin hanging on my wall that my grandfather caught years ago and that is most def not a white marlin

  3. Amanda

    Way to go Justin!!!! That’s an amazing looking fish!! You gotta take Connor out with you one of these days… He’d love it 🙂

    1. justin fish

      justin fish says psh ive seen bigger….. Nice fish sprague im truly jealous. im gonna swing by the shop to get the details

  4. Tom Bennett

    Ummmm, That is a sailfish, not a white marlin, by the way. Not unusual for a sailfish to be in shallow water feeding. Unusual for one to be in Cape Cod feeding though.

  5. Capt Dave

    I figured I’d be the 1,000,000,000th person to tell you that it is definitely, with out a doubt, 100000% positively a sailfish…. Note the sail like dorsal
    Nice catch guys- and don’t listen to the bullshit about how you shouldn’t have “killed” it- I would’ve greased it if we’re fine 🙂

  6. bigwave

    You need a HMS permit to fish for billfish or kill billfish should have been released POS.

    1. Bill O

      yes if your a boat specifically targeting.. no a guy on the shore and happens to hit. one

      What is the new HMS angling permit requirement?
      A: NOAA Fisheries now requires recreational vessel owners who target any regulated highly migratory fish species in federal waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean to get a federal vessel permit. The permit allows all anglers aboard to fish for highly migratory fish.

      Q: Which species does the permit cover?
      A: The HMS angling permit is required if fishing for any federally regulated highly migratory species: Atlantic tunas (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, and albacore) and sharks, swordfish, white and blue marlin, sailfish and spearfish.

      1. Riz

        Hey bigwave do you need some ice for that sick burn. Also I have to say all these crybabies are just jealous of your catch.

      2. bigwave

        That’s it I am jealous! dork look out for EPO”s

      3. bigwave

        Wrong you need a permit.
        Q: May I fish for Atlantic tunas without a vessel (e.g., from an oil rig or from shore)?
        A: No, only permitted vessels may fish for Atlantic bluefin, bigeye, albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack tunas in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. If one of these species is caught incidentally during fishing activities from shore or from an oil rig, it must be released immediately.

      4. BIG-RY

        Where in that does it say anything about a sailfish? It’s all about tunas

    2. BIG-RY

      Sounds like another jealous SOB, I don’t think there’s one person in this world that wouldve(if survived) released that fish and you know you would’ve kept it especially knowing the area and knowing that those fish don’t go swimming through the CCC on a daily basis. And HELLO does anybody read the fish DID NOT SURVIVE open your ears and eyes, even in the video they were saying hurry up we gotta get this fish back in the water so leave the damn kid alone and enough of the whole release thing. Congrats Justin I heard you don’t have the fish anymore but you should get a replica mount of it.

      1. Riz

        Well said, I have not done to much fishing in the CCC but have been around it my whole life. I could never imagine fighting a big fish on those slippery rocks knowing that if you were to fall in you are going for a serious ride.

      2. BIG-RY

        I heard there a game fish kinda like bluefish very oily a guy I know said he caught one down in Florida(I think) and he had to hire someone to cook it well actually smoke it, the guy that smoked I guess has been doing it forever and uses like 7 different woods to smoke it and instead of paying him they split the meat so they each got 20lbs of meat.

      3. bigwave

        Riz & Big-ry

        You are wrong you do indeed need a permit and shore fishing is not allowed confirmed by a NMFS Officer.

      4. BIG-RY

        So release a dead fish back into the waters, a rare never before seen in the canal fish back into the water right? Sorry but I would’ve taken that fish in a heartbeat even If alive and glady taken a ticket or whatever else.

  7. Spencer

    Awesome catch but I would have cut the line. Marlon are rare in this area. P.S. it’s a freaking white Marlon hint white colour

  8. Terry

    That’s one heck of a catch out of the canal. Massachusetts is becoming the new Florida. Great indicator of climate change.

  9. Jesse

    It doesn’t take a genius to realize they snagged it!!! It was hanging out near the old pier piling!!! They thought was a shark and casted back out. Watch video describing how he flashed hooked it. No wonder it was all tangled up and died!! No offense bud I’m sure it was amazing fight and hard not to try and snag it… it’s been 9 years was there a large fine involved, just curious!!!!!

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