Where to Fish in August and September

Where to go around the world for the best fishing 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.

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific blue marlin
Pacific blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: Panama

Hawaii experiences an influx of blues during late summer, with August considered peak, and September continuing to produce solid numbers. Trophy hunters should note that waters off Kona and Oahu have produced 140 granders over the years. October marks the arrival of the rainy season in Panama, but August and September bring some of year’s best blue marlin fishing.

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin
Atlantic blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

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

Big fish, good numbers, and calm waters combine to make Madeira and the Azores the top Atlantic blue marlin destination this time of year. The Azores and Condor banks yield plenty of 400- to 500-pounders now. The August full moon is touted as prime time for blues on the North Drop near St. Thomas, and many fish linger well into September.

Black Marlin

black marlin
Black marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Ecuador

Peak time for granders around the Great Barrier Reef is around the corner, and numbers increase accordingly. While big girls exceeding 800 pounds draw boats to the stretch between Cairns and Lizard Island, expect plenty of 400- to 600-pounders as well. Ecuador’s Marlin Boulevard frequently produces a half-dozen shots a day for anglers in August and September.

White Marlin

White marlin
White marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Virginia
Second choice: Maryland

The northbound migration up the Eastern Seaboard brings packs of hungry whites to waters off Virginia and Maryland. Boats out of Virginia Beach and Ocean City find plenty of willing playmates this time of year, with the consistent bite extending as far south as Nags Head, North Carolina, where the run out to the big drop in the continental shelf is considerably shorter.

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Virginia

As water temperatures climb, sailfish push ­northward up the mid-Atlantic coast. Many reach Virginia; some make it to Maryland. But the largest concentration of fish remain in North Carolina waters—anglers find excellent action off the Outer Banks by pinpointing baitfish schools with sonar, and slow-trolling liveys or rigged ballyhoo around them.

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish
Pacific sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Mexico

While this is considered offseason in Guatemala, most days, game boats in Iztapa manage to raise a half-dozen sails or more, providing enough action to keep visiting anglers busy. Meanwhile, on Mexico’s west coast, the sport-fishing fleets out of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta partake of the year’s best sailfish bite over the next couple of months.

Striped Marlin

striped marlin
Striped marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Peru

Cabo San Lucas at the southern end of the Baja Peninsula remains the most reliable fishery, even during this time, which is considered the shoulder season in the region. Action along Ancora Bank off the north coast of Peru heats up in August, as squid and sardines aggregate en masse, and hungry striped marlin show up for the feast, often resulting in double-digit-release days.

Wahoo

Wahoo
WahooIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bermuda
Second choice: North Carolina

The striped torpedoes get going in Bermuda this time of year, as fish gather around Argus and Challenger banks. Slow-trolling speedos is the preferred strategy, but ballyhoo-Islander combinations pulled at a faster clip produce as well. In North Carolina, boats out of Hatteras, Oregon and Beaufort inlets find wahoo along the first drop, and around various humps and offshore canyons.

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Panama

Schools of big yellowfins, 40 to 75 pounds, roam the offshore oil rigs off southeast Louisiana. Boats out of Venice make the run to 3,000 feet of water, and troll live hardtails and herring around the floating platforms and weed lines. On the Pacific side of Panama, packs of tuna provide sporadic action around submerged pinnacles and along the color change.

Bluefin Tuna

bluefin tuna
Bluefin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: Prince Edward Island

Boats out of Rockport and Gloucester enjoy action with giant bluefins at Stellwagen and Georges banks, Jeffreys Ledge, and Cape Cod Bay. Balloon rigs are the most popular way to deploy baits, but kite-fishing seems to be catching on. Just north of the Canadian border, big bluefins funnel through Northumberland Strait, and congregate in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Bonefish

bonefish

Bonefish

BonefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Turks and Caicos

The midday heat slows the action this time of year, but bonefishing on the flats of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos remains excellent early and late in the day. Expect oceanside shallows to be most productive, especially during a morning rising tide, which floods the flats with cooler water. Look for bones in channels, creeks and the outskirts of the same flats midday.

Snook

snook
SnookIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Most snook are done spawning in Florida, but many remain in passes and inlets, where drifting with live bait pays off. Use your fish finder to mark schooling fish, then drift over them for best results. Plenty of fish still patrol the beaches as well, making sight-fishing effective. In Belize, ­linesiders ambush bait at the mouths of coastal rivers and adjacent mangrove lagoons this time of year.

Tarpon

Tarpon

Tarpon

TarponIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

The big spring migration in Florida has come to an end, but a few stragglers and residents offer reliable action along both coasts. FYI: Now is when the fish turn their attention to ladyfish, mullet and other large forage. So think big, whether you opt for fishing live bait or casting artificials. Pods of tarpon keep cruising Belizean flats and congregating in deep holes and shorelines.

Permit

Permit

Permit

PermitIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Mexico

The inside shallows of northern Belize, coral flats of the outer atolls, its 20-mile stretch of shoals (dubbed Permit Alley), and the southern grass flats of Punta Gorda hold plenty of permit this time of year. In Mexico’s Yucatan, some lodges close for hurricane season, but a few remain open, offering lots of big, hungry permit with minimal fishing pressure when weather allows.

Red Drum

red drum
Red DrumIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

Reds remain widespread in Louisiana marshes, but many 8- to 15-pound specimens form sizable schools—in preparation for spawning—and begin their move toward open water. Meanwhile, bulls weighing 20 pounds and up fatten up on pogies around outer points and shoals. In Florida, nature also urges reds to aggregate and feed ravenously. Look for schooling big fish in grassy bays, suspended in depths of 4 to 8 feet.

Striped Bass

striped bass
Striped bassIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

With baitfish schools abundant in Massachusetts waters, there will be no shortage of fish busting in popular haunts such as Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Sound, South Cape Beach and Buzzards Bay. Long Island Sound still offers solid striper action, though increasingly sporadic. However, the beaches from Water Island to Montauk often remain red-hot into October.

Swordfish

swordfish

Swordfish

SwordfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: New York

Calm seas in South Florida during late summer make drifting for broadbills as comfortable as it gets, even in the Keys, where boats go as far as 45 miles to find the right depth. Now is a good time to try for swords in the Northeast. Boats out of Montauk and Shinnecock usually find some in Welker Canyon, or to the south, from Hendrickson to Washington Canyon.

King Mackerel

king mackerel
King mackerelIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Texas
Second choice: Louisiana

Kingfishing goes off the hook in the western Gulf of Mexico. Both the Texas and Louisiana oil and gas platforms offer smokers in the 30- to 50-pound range. Expect some behind anchored shrimp boats, and just outside the passes, where baitfish will be prevalent and easy for the taking. Live-baiting remains the top choice, however plugs catch their share too.

Bluefish

Bluefish
BluefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

Sensing the change of season is not far off, chopper blues feed on whatever forage they come across in Northeast waters, both inshore and off. With schools of baitfish still abundant in Massachusetts and New York, reliable hotspots, such as Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Sound, Cape Cod Bay, Napeague and Gardiners bays, and the Long Island beaches all pay dividends.

Dolphin

mahimahi
DolphinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama
Second choice: North Carolina

Dorado are on the move along Panama’s Pacific coast. Large specimens, some 50-pounders, are common outside Parita and Humboldt bays, as well as the Panama Gulf. Boats making bait find schoolies close to the rocks. In North Carolina, the fleets out of Oregon Inlet and Hatteras find schoolie and slammer dolphin this time of year while trolling for tuna or billfish.