Where to Fish in August and September | Salt Water Sportsman

Where to Fish in August and September

Find the best spots to find your favorite species as summer hits its peak in North America, the Caribbean, Mexico and more

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.

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific blue marlin

Pacific blue marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama
Second choice: Costa Rica

In Panama, blue marlin are plentiful enough to share the spotlight with blacks this time of year. While most fall in the 250- to 350-pound class, a few exceeding 500 pounds are bound to oblige. Costa Rica’s offshore FADs are the Pacific’s next best bet for blues; they require long runs and often overnighting at sea.

 

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin

Atlantic blue marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

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

The North and South drops, the deepest in the Caribbean, respectively located 20 and 8 miles off St. Thomas, stay hot. A smaller drop surrounding nearby St. Croix also holds fish in late summer. Big blues remain on patrol off Bermuda, where several specimens surpassing the 1,000-pound mark have been caught this time of year.

 

Black Marlin

black marlin

Black marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Panama

It’s peak time for granders in northeast Australia, as huge blacks forage along the Great Barrier Reef, between Cairns and Lizard Island, a stretch that has produced over 800 marlin exceeding 1,000 pounds. Blacks prowl Panama waters, between Jaco and Coiba Island. Seamounts as shallow as 300 feet are key locations.

 

White Marlin

White marlin

White marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Virginia
Second choice: Maryland

The ongoing northbound migration brings pods of active white marlin to Maryland waters, within reach of game boats out of Ocean City. The strongest bite for the next four to six weeks, however, is expected from Virginia Beach, Virginia, south to Nags Head, North Carolina, where the run to the big drop on the continental shelf is closer to the coast.

 

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish

Atlantic sailfish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Virginia

With rising water temps, many sails migrating up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard push north to Virginia, but the largest concentrations remain off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Using sonar, pinpoint schooling baitfish to locate feeding sails. Then slow-troll a spread of liveys or rigged ballyhoo to tempt the fish.

 

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish

Pacific sailfish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Mexico

Guatemala’s insane release numbers dwindle considerably this time of year, but boats still average half a dozen a day, and some tally twice that number when a hot bite goes off. Meanwhile, along Mexico’s west coast, the sport-fishing fleets from Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta enjoy some the year’s best sailfish action.

 

Striped Marlin

striped marlin

Striped marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Although striped marlin won’t peak for another six weeks, Cabo San Lucas remains a safe bet. However, the Gulf of California, especially between Loreto and La Paz, is known to yield some excellent catches this time of year. The waters surrounding the Galapagos are bumpy for the next few months, but they continue to yield solid numbers of stripes.

 

Wahoo

Wahoo

Wahoo

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Bermuda

Fishing for striped torpedoes heats up in Tar Heel State waters this month. Fast-trolling Iland lures rigged with ballyhoo at staggered depths along the offshore canyons and around various humps off the Outer Banks pays dividends. The action gets going in Bermuda, where an increasing number of fish respond to live-baiting around Argus and Challenger banks.

 

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Panama

Large schools of 40- to 75-pounders attack baits around oil and gas platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico, off southeast Louisiana. Those sited in 2,500 feet or deeper produce best. Fast-moving packs of yellowfins travel along Panama’s Pacific coast this time of year. Fish submerged pinnacles and banks for best results, or run and gun along the color change.

 

Bluefin Tuna

bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: Prince Edward Island

The fleets out of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts, continue to find action at Georges and Stellwagen banks, Jeffreys Ledge and Cape Cod Bay. Some are increasing their catches using kites instead of balloon rigs. North of the Canadian border, bluefins begin to move through Northumberland Strait and congregate in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

 

Bonefish

bonefish

Bonefish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Turks and Caicos

The heat index still requires fishing split shifts for comfort and best success as bones move onto the flats during early-morning and evening hours. If that isn’t an option, fish channels or deeper flats where bonefish mud. In Turks and Caicos, the flats of Provo, Pine Cay, Water Cay, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and East Caicos are all good bets.

 

Snook

snook

Snook

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Snook season opens September 1 in Florida, and plenty of them gather in passes and inlets on both coasts. Drifting jigs or live baits through the fish is sure to produce hookups. Some linesiders also roam the beaches, providing superb sight-casting opportunities. In Belize, mangrove lagoon systems and coastal rivers harbor numerous snook this time of year.

 

Tarpon

Tarpon

Tarpon

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

The migrating fish may have moved on, but Florida has plenty of resident tarpon that now start thinking about fattening up before winter. Ladyfish become their favorite target, so catch some around schools of small baitfish and free-line them or drift them under a balloon. In Belize, tarpon stack up in coastal rivers, from the mouth to 2 or 3 miles upstream.

 

Permit

Permit

Permit

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Biscayne Bay and the lower Florida Keys still offer the best chance to hook up with permit. Expect more fish on the move during spring tides, and pay special attention to the flats bordering passes or channels between islands. Belize weather is a bit iffy now, but lots of fish still cruise Turneffe’s Central Lagoon, the shoals of Permit Alley and the flats of Punta Gorda.

 

Red Drum

red drum

Red Drum

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: North Carolina

It’s transition time for reds in Louisiana, and large, mature specimens gather in schools and start to move from the marshes and inside bays toward the Gulf. Cast a topwater ahead of the fish and watch several fight over it. In North Carolina, there’s no better time to tangle with reds over 40 pounds. Pamlico Sound and Neuse River hold plenty of giants.

 

Striped Bass

striped bass

Striped bass

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

With baitfish abundant and widespread in Massachusetts waters, stripers remain on a tear. It won’t be hard to spot feeding fish in Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound, Martha’s Vineyard and South Cape Beach. New York’s Long Island Sound offers sporadic action, but the beaches from Water Island to Montauk, especially areas near the inlets, should be on fire.

 

Swordfish

swordfish

Swordfish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: New York

Calm seas in South Florida this time of year are ideal for drifting rigged baits and strobes or Cyalume sticks. In the Keys, the fishing takes place 25 to 45 miles offshore, but the desired depths are much closer to shore in Miami and north. Boats out of Shinnecock and Montauk find some broadbills at Welker Canyon, or from Hendrickson to Washington Canyon to the south.

 

King Mackerel

king mackerel

King mackerel

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Texas
Second choice: Louisiana

The western Gulf of Mexico is the best place to be if you’re looking for smoker kings in late summer. Texas and Louisiana’s coastlines, with their countless oil rigs, offer numerous spots for the toothy predators to find schooling baitfish and for anglers to connect with fish. Live baits under a balloon fished around the end of pass jetties during outgoing tides also pay off.

 

Bluefish

Bluefish

Bluefish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

Big choppers compete for prey with stripers along the Massachusetts coast. Chatham flats offer great sight-fishing opportunities, but other hot spots, like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod Bay, will have no shortage of hungry blues. New York’s Napeague and Gardiners bays and Long Island beaches are also excellent choices for anglers intent on battling big bluefish.

 

Dolphin

mahimahi

Dolphin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama
Second choice: North Carolina

In Panama, waves of dorado travel outside Bahia de Parita, Golfo de Panama and Bahia de Humboldt. Large cows and bulls over 50 pounds are common offshore, and schoolies are often encountered close to the rocks by boats catching bait. In North Carolina, boats out of Hatteras and Oregon Inlet find their share of dolphin while trolling for billfish.

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