July is my favorite month of the year. Not only is there a plethora of inshore species to target, but most pelagic fish also come into the scene. Porgies, fluke, black seabass, striped bass dominate the inshore catches. I always look at our offshore fishing grounds in two categories – one being our northeast canyons, and the second being all areas short of the northeast canyons.
Both areas will see a variety of pelagics throughout the month of July.
Offshore fishing kicks into high gear off the south shore of Long Island. The month of
July gives most small boat owners a shot at some mahi mahi and tuna. I run a 28’ center console with twin 200’s on the back. When I head offshore (20-60 miles) as a rule of thumb, I look for seas no worse than 2-4 feet and winds no more then 5-10 knots. Please allow yourself a little bit of a weather cushion in case the forecasters end up being incorrect.
There are many areas that will hold tuna throughout the month of July. Along with both yellowfin
and bluefin you will also find plenty of mahimahi and you may even get a shot at a wahoo or
two. Those fishing out of the west end of the island should be heading to such areas as the Glory Hole, Mako Motel and the Chicken Canyon. A little further to the east you may find tuna at the Bacardi, Compass Rose and the Coimbra. Out on the east end there is no shortage of spots that tuna will visit. Some of the popular spots are the Inner Butterfish Hole, Jennie’s Horn, Ryan’s Horn, The Outer Butterfish Hole, and Little Fish Tales along with several other spots.
For those willing to head further offshore to the northeast canyons, this time of year will reward you with catches of yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, wahoo, marlin, mahi mahi, and swordfish. The days are usually spent trolling. As night falls, most boats will begin to set up for a nighttime chunk. It is important to keep up on reports because you may find incredible life in one canyon, however many others may be void of life. Bottom line – do your homework before you leave the dock.
Last year was known as the summer of the shark. It was truly amazing how many sharks were caught. From the offshore canyons to the inshore bunker pods sharks seemed to be everywhere. Makos and threshers were being brought back to the docks in quantities not seen in several years. If history repeats itself you won’t have to go too far to land a keeper-sized thresher. You may not find bass underneath the July bunker pods, but there is a good chance that you will find thresher and brown sharks gorging themselves.
Black seabass season finally opens this month. They are my favorite fish to eat and a blast to catch. Seabass is a great way to introduce young kids and older newcomers to fishing. If you can find a piece of bottom structure chances are you will find some of these tasty critters. Black seabass will take just about anything presented in front of them. When it comes
to bait my go to choice are clams. No need to get fancy, just use a double hook rig with a weight on the bottom and a couple of small pieces of clam. If you have the time try cutting your bait before
you head out to fish. The bite can be fast and furious, so if your bait is precut you will shorten the amount of time your line is spent out of the water. For those who are a little bit more advanced or want more of a challenge try jigging for black seabass. You might be amazed at how large a jig these fish will hit.
Porgy sharpies on the south shore will focus their attention out east. Unlike most other areas along the coast, Montauk has bottom structure that more resembles that of the north shore. Montauk has an abundance of rocks which attract an abundance of porgies. Porgies are another great species to get people hooked on fishing. Just like black seabass, porgies are very willing to take just about any type of cut bait. Use the same rig as you would for black seabass but just cut back on the size of your hooks. If you can’t make it out to Montuak I suggest you concentrate your efforts around most of the South Shore’s numerous bay bridges and artificial reefs. You might be shocked at just how well you will do.
On the south shore of Long Island the number one inshore species targeted is fluke. At the beginning of the month you will still be able to put together some great trips fishing inside most south shore bays and inlets. I caught my largest fluke ever fishing near the Robert Moses Bridge. The fluke weighed in at 11.25 pounds and was caught in early July. I’m still a believer in the old tried and true baits for fluke. Spearing and squid on a high low rig. That doesn’t mean I won’t use a bucktail. I like to bucktail when I find myself fishing in a slow moving tide. Besides squid and spearing you will always find a bunch of Gulp on my boat. As the month comes to a close the fluke will start to move out and head into deeper waters. Fluke fishing in the ocean can be very relaxing, as I’m sure that I’m not the only one who enjoys getting away from bridges, buoys, shallow water and other boaters. In next month’s issue I will focus more on ocean fluking.
By the time July rolls around most of the striped bass to the west have begun to migrate to the east. You may still get a few shots of big bass under the bunker pods in the ocean. If you have your heart set on catching bass make sure your search includes the beaches between Fire Island Inlet and Jones Beach Inlet. The July full moon will give you a great shot at trophy stripers out on the east end. If you fish Montauk for stripers, I suggest you use live legal porgies during the day, and at night your best bet would be the use of live eels.
Two other species that you may come across in July are weakfish and triggerfish. Unlike the big
tiderunners of spring, these weakfish will be more in the 2 to 3 pound range and the best way to catch them will be to use a small bucktail tipped with some squid. As for triggerfish, they will be found around bridges, reefs, and jetties. Similar to porgies, the key here is to use small hooks and small cut baits. Despite their rough exterior, they are a great fish to eat.
Most of our inshore species can be found within reach of most fisherman. The south shore artificial reef systems offer a great chance at bringing home dinner. In case you aren’t familiar with the reefs along the south shore here they are: Rockaway Reef is located 1.6NM south of Rockaway Beach, Atlantic Beach Reef is located 3NM south of Atlantic Beach, The Fishing Line Reef is located 2.8NM south of Long Beach, Hempstead Reef is located 3.3NM south of Jones Beach State Park, Fire Island Reef is located 2NM south of the FI light house, Moriches Reef is located
2.4NM south of Moriches Inlet, Shinnecock Reef is located 2NM south of Shinnecock Inlet. For
more information such as coordinates and material found on these reefs please visit, www.dec.ny.gov.