Where to Fish in July

Find the best spots to find your favorite species as summer continues throughout North America, the Caribbean, Mexico and more

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.

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific blue marlin
Pacific blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: Australia

Summer is synonymous with great weather and lots of blue marlin in Hawaii. Kona, with extremely deep water just a few hundred yards from the harbor entrance, is a particularly good location for avid billfishers to hunt down Pacific blues, some of which weigh over 700 pounds. Australia is best known for its black marlin, but Gold Coast also has plenty of blues along the drop, some 20 miles offshore.

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin
Atlantic blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

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

No more waiting for the North Drop and nearby marlin grounds to heat up: The action around St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, peaks this month and next, and there’s no better place to search for a grander blue. Big-gamers looking for blues exceeding 400 pounds also stand a great chance in Portuguese waters, because the best period for big fish off the Azores and Madeira begins now.

Black Marlin

black marlin
Black marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Ecuador

Down Under, it’s early for the big ladies, but Cairns, Gold Coast and Townsville’s Cape Bowling Green offer reliable light-tackle marlin action. Good weather this time of year is ideal for small boats to target the abundant juvenile blacks. Esmeraldas, in northernmost Ecuador, has only in recent years been recognized as a world-class marlin fishery. This month the black marlin bite reaches its peak.

White Marlin

White marlin
White marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Portugal
Second choice: North Carolina

The Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores offer some of the world’s best white marlin fishing this time of year, and peak season coincides with some of the area’s kinder, most predictable weather. The billfish-hits parade along North Carolina’s coast kicks into high gear. Sport-fishing fleets out of the Crystal Coast and Outer Banks regularly tally multiple white marlin releases per day this month.

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish
Atlantic sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Florida

The flow of migrating sails increases off North Carolina. Game boats out of Beaufort Inlet, Port Hatteras and Oregon Inlet get in on the action, and often score double and triple hookups this month. Sailfishing in Florida wanes after the spring run, but enough fish remain to make efforts worthwhile. The trick now is to stagger baits at different depths to catch fish hanging deep, where the water is cooler.

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish
Pacific sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

In Guatemala, the bite is slower than during peak season, but most days experienced crews still find a half-dozen fish or more. Spindlebeak action in Tico waters is also off-peak, but sport-fishing fleets out of Golfito, Quepos, Los Sueños, Tamarindo and Flamingo periodically locate pods of feeding sails and manage to coax several strikes. Once a pod of feeding fish is located, the bite could last a few days.

Striped Marlin

striped marlin
Striped marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Anglers intent on catching stripes will do well to travel to Cabo San Lucas before what’s arguably the world’s best striped marlin fishery begins its seasonal downturn next month. The fishing for stripes around the Galapagos, some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is just past its peak, yet most days these bountiful waters should still produce multiple fish per outing.

Wahoo

Wahoo
WahooIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bermuda
Second choice: Panama

Bermuda’s summer wahoo fishing is as sure a bet as you’ll find. Challenger and Argus banks hold large gatherings of 25- to 60-pounders, which respond well to Ilander-ballyhoo combinations trolled at 9 to 13 knots, and live speedos towed considerably slower. Panama isn’t known for its wahoo fishing, but the rocky Pacific coast boasts a decent population of 20- to 50-pounders that aggressively hit trolled lures.

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bermuda
Second choice: Mexico

The same offshore banks that hold wahoo in Bermuda teem with 50- to 75-pound yellowfins along with some larger specimens this time of year. Chunking is an effective way to bring the tuna to you, and tossing out a few live chummers once the fish are within range makes for explosive surface action. Offshore banks along Mexico’s Pacific coast yield 200- to 300-pound monsters this month.

Bluefin Tuna

bluefin tuna
Bluefin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: California

Giants invade Massachusetts waters, and places like Stellwagen Bank, Jeffreys Ledge, Tillies Bank, the back side of Cape Cod, and the Chatham sand shoals get hot in a hurry. Schoolies of 50 to 100 pounds provide light-tackle fun in Cape Code Bay and the Gulf of Maine. In Southern California, boats out of San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, Oceanside Harbor, Dana Point Harbor and Long Beach Harbor find fish to 200 pounds.

Bonefish

bonefish
BonefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Belize

Midsummer heat calls for split-shift fishing in the Bahamas, as bonefishing this month will be best in the mornings and evenings. Some fish will still patrol the edges of flats adjacent to channels and drop-offs during the warmer periods. But don’t waste time in areas devoid of sharks and rays. July is windy in Belize, which helps keep the heat at bay. Expect bones to remain active and widespread.

Snook

snook
SnookIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Inlets, passes and coastal river mouths in the southern half of the Sunshine State are home to large aggregations of linesiders in midsummer. Most will be 6- to 10-pound males, but there’ll be enough 20-plus-pound females to keep things interesting. In Belize, mangrove lagoons and coastal rivers, like the Belize, Monkey and Deep, continue to produce solid snook action, especially early and late in the day.

Tarpon

Tarpon
TarponIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Florida

July is a top month for tarpon in Belize as migrating fish cruise the shallows and stack up in deep holes along with their resident counterparts. Meanwhile, in Florida, the Big Bend and Panhandle still see some remnants of the big spring run, but anglers in most places resort to targeting resident fish and juveniles that stick around until the first fall cold front sends them to their wintering grounds.

Permit

Permit
PermitIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Honduras

No place in the world offers more reliable permit fishing than Belize, and this month the Central American nation continues to thrill shallow-water anglers with countless cruisers and tailers from Ambergris down to Punta Gorda. In Honduras, the flats of Guanaja and Roatan also afford anglers numerous shots at fish this time of year. Keep in mind that success here often requires wade-fishing.

Red Drum

red drum
Red DrumIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: North Carolina

The Cajun Coast remains the nation’s top redfish spot despite high water temperatures. Finding moving water and bait are key for those fishing lakes, ponds and bayous. Bull hunters do best around pogy schools gathered at outside points and coves. In North Carolina, reds spread out in the marshes along the Intracoastal Waterway, Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, and the lower stretches of coastal rivers and creeks.

Striped Bass

striped bass
Striped bassIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: Connecticut

Schooling baitfish attract hungry stripers to Massachusetts’ storied bass fishing grounds, including Nantucket Sound, Martha’s Vineyard, Chatham, Buzzards Bay, Governors Flats and more. The same aggregations bring hordes of striped bass to shoals and reefs in Long Island Sound off Connecticut, where some massive specimens have been caught in recent years.

Swordfish

swordfish
SwordfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

In South Florida, night fishing becomes more productive during midsummer, but daytime efforts still pay off. Either way, anglers using the right tactics should expect two or more bites per outing. On Mexico’s west coast, boats out of Cabo and Mazatlan encounter a fair number of broadbills finning on the surface. Pitch baits are just the ticket to entice those sunning swords.

King Mackerel

king mackerel
King mackerelIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Texas
Second choice: Louisiana

Gulf of Mexico kingfish move westward, bringing a hot bite to Texas shores. Now is when smokers forage around the mouths of major passes, and anglers fishing from small boats or even the jetties get in on the action. Some fish remain in Louisiana waters, where fishing live bait around anchored shrimp boats or near oil rigs in less than 250 feet of water proves most reliable.

Bluefish

Bluefish
BluefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

Massive bunker concentrations draw incessant attacks from voracious bluefish, which follow the bait along the beaches of Massachusetts and New York, often embarking on impressive flurries. Inlets, which tend to also hold forage, are great places to encounter blues on the prowl. Pencil poppers, surface swimmers, weighted swimbaits, spoons and metal jigs—worked at a fast pace—garner their share of strikes.

Dolphin

mahimahi
DolphinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Florida

This month, sport-fishing fleets on the Outer Banks add dolphin to their long list of likely species as groups of schoolies and duos or trios of much larger adults increasingly ride the Gulf Stream northward. In Florida, calm seas and gentle southeasterly breezes continue to foster the formation of weed lines, which in turn hold more dolphin, providing additional opportunities for coastal anglers.