The July action lights up on every coast.
Dog days? hardly. cow stripers feast around the waters of Martha’s Vineyard, while bull redfish roil the Indian and Banana Rivers in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Out west, anglers can take whacks at wahoo off Hawaii or chase 200-pound yellowfin around SoCal. And the international traveler should venture to Cabo San Lucas for giant dolphin or set sail to Senegal for, well, sailfish. Wherever your destination, the action this month is just doggone good. Be sure to check regulations before heading out.
– Joe Cermele
BEST San Diego, California San Diego’s long-range fleet provides anglers with a fast cure for “yellow” fever off SoCal and the Baja Peninsula. These yellowfin fall to diamond jigs, and don’t be surprised if a 200-pounder picks a fight.
RUNNER-UP Venice, Louisiana Spots like the Midnight Lump and local oil rigs hold plenty of hungry yellowfin off Venice.
BESTKona, Hawaii Aloha, big wahoo. Troll a black-and-purple skirt up to 20 knots to elicit aggressive strikes from these big ‘hoos. If a fish charges the boat after the strike, point the rod at the water and crank fast to keep tension on the line.
RUNNER-UP Hatteras, North Carolina The warm waters off Hatteras boast some bruiser wahoo.
BEST Nags Head, North Carolina Anglers have solid chances at setting the hook on prized white marlin off Nags Head. Trolling naked ballyhoo is a deadly tactic, especially when the baits run tight to the boat, just beyond the prop wash.
RUNNER-UP charleston, south carolina Anglers will find prime action with whites around this southern hot spot.
BEST Gulf Shores, Alabama Live blue runners and fresh-dead ribbonfish reign supreme on lumps and around offshore oil rigs for July smokers. Add a free-swinging treble-hook stinger near the tail of trolled baits to minimize short strikes.
RUNNER-UP Virginia Beach, Virginia Big kings swarm around the deep wrecks in the warm waters off Virginia Beach.
BEST Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts This Northeast hot spot didn’t earn its reputation as a legendary striper fishery by accident. Fishing styles are endless here, as cow stripers are taken on wire line in deep water as well as with fly tackle on the flats.
RUNNER-UP Block Island, Rhode Island Stripers roam the shores of the “Block”-a paradise for surf and boat anglers.
BEST Cape Canaveral, Florida The redfish bite blasts off on Florida’s Space Coast in the Indian and Banana Rivers. For a go-to lure, try a gold-and-chartreuse spinnerbait, which catches fish at any level of the water column.
RUNNER-UP St. Simons Island, Georgia Bull reds cash in on the abundance of shrimp and crabs around St. Simons Island.
BEST Oyster Bay, New York The bays and backwaters of Western Long Island Sound provide countless hideouts for weakfish. Concentrate on fishing the shadow lines near lighted docks and bridge abutments after dark.
RUNNER-UP Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey Raritan Bay is a weakfish factory, holding huge numbers of big fish.
BEST Cabo San Lucas, Mexico From bulls down deep to peanuts on the surface, Cabo has something for every dolphin nut. If you get a school near the boat, don’t hesitate to drop a ballyhoo chunk down 100 feet, as larger dolphin may be cruising below.
RUNNER-UP Bimini Dolphin numbers abound in the deep water around the island of Bimini during the summer.
BEST Cancun, Mexico Blue marlin feed in the blue water off Cancun this time of year. Veteran charter captains know that big baits often mean big fish, so they’ll employ live peanut dolphin to get marlin in the mood to strike.
RUNNER-UP Madeira This marlin mecca in the eastern Atlantic is one no billfish chaser should miss.
BEST Ambergris Caye, Belize As the tarpon action begins to trail off in the States, head down to Belize for fights on the flats. The silver kings that feed here during the summer can push 150 pounds, making them highly visible targets.
RUNNER-UP Livingston, Guatemala Find tarpon and lose the crowds-head up the Rio Dulce for shots at jumbo fish.
BEST Flamingo Beach, Costa Rica Pacific sails run rampant in the waters off Flamingo and give anglers the chance to try a variety of fish-fighting styles. If trolling isn’t your game, cunning captains can tease them within fly- or light-tackle range.
RUNNER-UP Senegal To tangle with sailfish on the other side of the pond, get in on the chase in the bait-rich waters off Senegal.