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Where to Fish in August and September…


The Salt Water Sportsman editors give you the top two locations to go in August and September for your favorite saltwater species, plus guidance regarding why the bite there is smoking hot and how you should plan your next trips.

First choice: Panama
Second choice: Costa Rica

In Panama, blues remain plentiful enough to compete for forage with black marlin along the pronounced color change 12 to 14 miles offshore. While a few 500-pounders make the scene, most of the blues off Panama’s coast fall in the 250- to 350-pound class. The seamounts off Costa Rica remain a reliable option this month.

 

First choice: U.S. Virgin Islands
Second choice: Bermuda

Big blue marlin continue to use the deep waters of the North and South drops, near St. Thomas, as highways, and a smaller drop-off near St. Croix also holds its share of blues. In Bermuda, late summer is a great time to hunt for giant blues. Based on past catches, some of the marlin on the prowl may be bona fide granders.

 

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Panama

Time for the big blacks to again show up along the Great Barrier Reef, so boats will troll 20- to 40-pound tuna to entice one of the 800-plus-pound girls on patrol. Panama’s Pacific coast offers plenty of 200- to 400-pound blacks this time of year. Many will pounce on small, live bonito or tuna trolled around underwater pinnacles in as little as 300 feet of water.

 

First choice: Virginia
Second choice: Maryland

The annual white marlin migration up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard continues as wolf packs of hungry fish push northward off Maryland and Virginia’s shores. Now is when game boats out of Virginia Beach, Ocean City, and neighboring ports get in on the action and put up impressive release numbers.

 

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Virginia

White marlin aren’t the only billfish species migrating up the mid-Atlantic coast this time of year. Atlantic sailfish are also on the move. Some of the fish will travel up to Maryland waters, but the greatest concentrations remain widespread off North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Crystal Coast, as well as Virginia waters.

 

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Mexico

The extreme release numbers in Guatemala moderate in August and September, yet raising as many as 10 fish a day remains an obtainable goal. On Mexico’s west coast, fleets at popular vacation towns like Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo and Acapulco offer hot action.

 

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Fishing for striped marlin off Cabo San Lucas doesn’t peak for another month and a half, but the bite is already strong enough for visiting anglers to count on multiple strikes a day. Waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are bumpy now, but game boats venturing out still encounter plenty of willing fish.

 

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Bermuda

Avid ’hoo chasers have no trouble finding fish off North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and Outer Banks. Most of the wahoo around said parts are 25- to 40-pounders, but enough fish over 50 pounds make it over the gunwale to spice things up. In Bermuda, the world-class wahoo bite that made the offshore banks of Argus and Challenger famous heats up again.

 

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Panama

Schools of aggressive 40- to 75-pound yellowfins seek forage around oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, off southeast Louisiana. Expect the best action in depths beyond 2,500 feet. This time of year, yellowfin tuna also travel along Panama’s Pacific coast, where underwater banks and pinnacles offer the best chances for success.

 

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: Prince Edward Island

Boats out of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts, tap into the consistent fishery available in Cod Bay, Jeffreys Ledge, and Georges and Stellwagen banks. In Canadian waters, a fair number of giant bluefins should already be funneling through the Northumberland Straight, before staging in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

 

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Turks and Caicos

Bonefish remain both plentiful and aggressive throughout the Bahamas, except during the midday hours, when the heat still pushes them off the flats. The same is true in neighboring Turks and Caicos, so fish the flats in Provo, North, Middle and East Caicos, or Water and Pine cays early or late in the day for best results.

 

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Snook season opens in Florida on September 1, when linesiders will still be abundant and widespread in residential canal docks and Intracoastal bridges, as well as mangrove shorelines, inlets and passes, and the adjacent beaches. In Belize, snook fishing quickly improves in coastal rivers and mangrove lagoons.

 

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Georgia

In Florida, resident silver kings turn their attention to mullet, ladyfish and other large forage. Look for some patrolling sandbar edges, deeper mangrove shorelines, river mouths, inlets and passes. In Georgia, tarpon season is in full swing. Live-baiting major bays and the mouths of rivers and creeks flowing from the marshes is the best bet.

 

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Biscayne Bay, south of Miami, and the Gulf and oceanside flats in the lower Keys offer excellent permit fishing this time of year, and the best action occurs during the stronger tides, which the fish know to carry more crabs and shrimp. Permit also abound throughout Belize, with Turneffe Islands and the shoals of Permit Alley top options.

 

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

In Louisiana, spawning-size reds gather in large schools and head for open water. Locate concentrations of pogies in major bays and outer shoals, and bull redfish won’t be far behind. Florida’s mature reds follow a similar pattern, so look for big schools of 10- to 20-pounders on the outskirts of grass flats, in 5 to 8 feet of water.

 

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

The last reliable period to catch trophy stripers in the Northeast is now. Soon the fish will make their way to their wintering grounds, but first they’ll look to fatten up in the coastal waters of Massachusetts and New York. All the popular bass hot spots should produce, but pay special attention to rips, inlets and beaches where baitfish congregate.

 

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

This time of year, night fishing is the way to go for broadbills in South Florida, where veterans of the game use floating lights to draw squid and other common forage near the boat and bring swords up from the depths. On Mexico’s west coast, game boats still encounter some swordfish finning on the surface, and pitching baits to them is the preferred tactic.

 

First choice: Texas
Second choice: Louisiana

Gulf of Mexico waters from the coast of the Lone Star State through southeast Louisiana offer the most reliable kingfish bites this time of year. Look for fish feeding around the mouths of major passes, oil and gas platforms in less than 250 feet, and behind shrimp boats, either at anchor or trawling.

 

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

As long as baitfish congregate in Massachusetts and New York coastal waters, hungry blues will continue to wreak havoc. Known bluefish hangouts like Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Montauk and Long Island beaches remain productive until waters begin to cool down and the bait schools thin in the Northeast.

 

First choice: Panama
Second choice: North Carolina

In Panama, expect to find dorado traveling outside the Gulf of Panama, as well as in Humboldt and Parita bays, where it’s a great time to tangle with a 50-pounder. Off North Carolina, dolphin seek food and shade under flotsam in the Gulf Stream. Remember, big bulls and cows often lurk 20 to 50 feet below, so keep a jig handy.


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