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Where to Fish in July…

The Salt Water Sportsman editors give you the top two locations to go in July for your favorite saltwater species, plus guidance regarding why the bite there is hot and why you should plan your next fishing trip accordingly.

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Ecuador

Gold Coast, Australia, is best known for its incredible juvenile black marlin fishery, but it also boasts outstanding action with blues. Unlike the little blacks, which intercept baitfish in less than 20 feet of water, blues prefer the 100-fathom drop in the continental shelf. Ecuador’s Marlin Boulevard remains a productive location for bigger blues.

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

The drops off St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, get red-hot this month, and many boats raise a half-dozen or more blues a day. The potential for tangling with a grander is also a major attraction. The Canary Islands are in the midst of peak blue marlin season, and the deep waters surrounding La Gomera will yield plenty of 300- to 500-pounders.

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Ecuador

The big females that patrol the Great Barrier Reef are still a couple of months away, but the bite on 75- to 150-pound blacks is still strong on the patch reefs off Gold Coast. In Ecuador, the stretch between Salinas and Manta continues to offer superb black marlin fishing, and it rarely takes more than a 25-mile run to get in on the action.

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Virginia

Game fleets out of Port Hatteras and Oregon Inlet look forward to summer as North Carolina’s Outer Banks enjoy a major run of white marlin, resulting in wild action with 35- to 60-pounders. Boats out of neighboring Virginia Beach find their share of whites in the convergence of the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current.

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Florida

Migrating baitfish sparking North Carolina’s great white marlin bite also draw lots of sails. Expect the first responders to show up along the first drop between Wrightsville Beach and Morehead City, 40 miles out. On Florida’s east coast, enough spindlebeaks remain to make fishing worthwhile. Anglers who stagger baits at various depths usually fare best.

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

As Guatemalan weather turns iffy, so does the sailfishing. But even past its peak, the action off Iztapa is better than everywhere else. Slow days this month may bring eight or 10 strikes, but it’s still possible to tally more than twice that number when everything clicks. Sailfishing improves a couple of notches off Tamarindo and Flamingo, in Costa Rica’s northern region.

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Cabo San Lucas and neighboring ports on the Baja Peninsula offer the top striped marlin prospects, and this time of year local fleets find an increasing number finning on the surface, providing the perfect opportunity to sight-fish them with live bait. In Ecuador, the waters surrounding the famous Galapagos Islands and Isla de la Plata are reliable options in July.

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: Bermuda

Ono, the local name for wahoo in Hawaii, aggregate on ledges close to the islands this time of year. Off the Kohala Coast, along the big island, the “40-fathom” ledge ­— just a few hundred feet from shore — should be stacked with fish susceptible to trolled diving plugs. The bite slows on Bermuda’s fabled banks, but dedicated crews still scratch decent catches.

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: North Carolina

The tuna bite stays hot in Hawaiian waters, especially for those using live bait. Expect Kona and Oahu’s North Shore to produce the most consistent fishing. Now is when the largest yellowfins of the year come closest to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and with local game fleets chasing billfish, anglers who focus on the tuna stand to enjoy some amazing flurries.

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: California

July is when bluefins invade Massachusetts waters. Popular hot spots, like Cape Cod Bay, the sand shoals east of Chatham, Jeffreys Ledge, and Tillies and Stellwagen banks, should all hold their share of fish. In California, bluefins come within range of boats out of San Diego and Newport Beach. Dana Point and “The 43” and Cortes banks are likely haunts.

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Belize

Plenty of gray ghosts hunt the Bahamas flats, but it’s best to fish early and late. In secluded areas, bones forage in less than 12 inches of water while the sun is close to the horizon, so be ready to ditch the boat and fish on foot. In Belize, bonefish remain active throughout the region. Look for tailers on ocean-side shallows and mudding fish on deeper inside flats.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Florida linesiders congregate in inlets, passes and adjacent channels in preparation for spawning, and some patrol the beaches. Use your fish finder to pinpoint snook in deeper water and drift live baits through them, or sight-fish the beach-goers with small soft-plastic jerkbaits. The mangrove lagoon systems in the Yucatan produce reliable action.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

The migration along the Florida coasts is mostly over, yet the Big Bend, Charlotte Harbor, the Everglades and the Keys still have pockets with good fishing. Flies and lures temp some fish, but live baits really shine. Fishing for 5- to 20-pounders remains excellent in the northern Yucatan. However, accurate casting in tight quarters is frequently required.

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Florida

In Belize, permit action comes down a notch, but it’s still good enough to maintain the small Central American nation as a top permit destination. In South Florida, scores of permit that spawned on the wrecks earlier return to the shallows. Look for fish over patchy or hard-bottom flats close to deeper water, especially during the stronger tides.

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Texas

Louisiana marshes teem with baitfish, and redfish put on the feed bag. Expect the largest specimens to gorge on pogies at the mouths of bays and bayous, especially during high to mid-falling tide. In South Texas, sight-fish reds on the grass flats early and late in the day, and jig for them over deeper oyster reefs or along jetties when the sun gets high.

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

Rising water temperatures and bait schools draw stripers to their usual hangouts along the Massachusetts coast, in places like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Chatham. A similar scenario plays out in New York inlets and adjacent beaches, from Fire Island to Montauk. Pack a handful of topwater plugs and subsurface swimmers and go have a blast.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: New Zealand

South Florida produces solid swordfish catches through the summer, but hot, still days are generally not conducive to drift-fishing. Fishing at night becomes the preferred tactic. New Zealand waters produce some truly large swords this time of year. A drop north of the Bay Islands has proven particularly good, yielding broadbills to 800 pounds.

First choice: Texas
Second choice: Georgia

Kings moving north in the Gulf of Mexico will have reached Texas waters. The mouths of major passes are excellent places to locate some, and so are anchored shrimp boats and rigs in less than 250 feet of water. On the Atlantic Coast, smokers stage off northern Florida and Georgia beaches. Slow-trolling live pogies or blue runners does the trick.

First choice: New York
Second choice: New Jersey

The schools of bait that have striped bass in a frenzy also attract ravenous bluefish. Cruising along New York and New Jersey beaches is the easiest way to find them. Then it’s just a matter of casting a flashy swimmer or noisy popper in their vicinity. Anglers intent on catching 20-pounders should try fishing wrecks with irons and jigs.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: North Carolina

Schools of grasshoppers and small packs of slammer dolphin continue to ride the Gulf Stream from the Florida Keys to North Carolina. Boats trolling around weed lines and large, isolated debris hook plenty, but for the larger bulls and cows, which often prefer to hang 20 to 50 feet below, dropping butterfly jigs or weighted live baits is usually the answer.

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