Many anglers across the island look forward to August. Steamy hot days can often lead to very hot fishing in our local waters. The blue water crowd charges toward the canyons hoping to have their spread covered up by large bigeye and yellowfin tuna. Inshore along the 30 fathom lumps, some large bluefin tuna in the hundred pound class can be found gorging on sand eels.
Striped bass anglers around Montauk, especially the night time surf rats, look forward to the new moon as bass meander toward the beach looking for snappers and mullet.
Fluke fisherman drift along the forty to eighty foot depths looking for a doormat. The fly fishing crowd eagerly awaits the first schools of bonito and false albacore to come pouring into the south shore inlets and north shore coves feasting on spearing and anchovies.
Angler hooked-up casting to bluefins - and the end result.
Gulf stream eddies which break off the main portion of the stream and spiral toward our canyons bring a variety of tuna and marlin species to our local waters. Every offshore angler is hoping for a repeat of last season’s bigeye tuna run in the hundred square area of southern Hudson canyon. Hundreds of boats descended upon the small area which made it interesting to troll at night, a relatively new technique to our canyons. Reports of commercial green stick boats having their lines run over and reports of boats trolling so close that their outriggers tangled were commonplace. While the masses descend upon the area, many anglers leaving the eastern portion of the island found success in relatively uncrowded waters toward Atlantis and West Atlantis canyons. Trolling at night around the full moon is much less nerve wracking when there’s only a handful of boats in the area.
Heavy Joe Schute heads rigged in front of horse ballyhoo accounted for most of the bigeyes trolled at night while other anglers deployed large jet heads in green and black with equal success. If you’re new to the technique, remember to have all safety equipment close at hand and have a game plan once you hook up. It pays to take shifts at the helm since staring at your radar, fish finder and flir for hours on end gets rather tiring. However there’s nothing like the sound of the outrigger popping and line screaming off the reel to wake you up at 2am.
While many tuna fisherman make the long run to the canyons, others prefer to stay inshore along the thirty to forty fathom depths hunting down large bluefin. If the sand eels stay put throughout the summer, this fishery can be very dependable. The bluefins will tend to stay on the bait and can be found most days within a few miles of the day prior. Look for congregations of whales, shearwaters, terns and porpoise. While trolling can be effective, many times the bluefins do not want to come up to the surface since their primary food source is often found within twenty feet of bottom. In those instances where you mark them on the fish finder but they’re not responding to trolled lures, drop a six to ten ounce diamond jig or sardine jig to them and hold on. Often the hits are subtle and the fight does not begin until they get toward the surface. Remember that we are allowed two bluefin under forty seven inches and one over forty seven inches.
Most surfrats have hung up their Korkers and eagerly await the fall run but in doing so miss out on a chance of hooking the largest bass of the season. Many of the south shore inlets, the Orient point area and the south side of Montauk offer great opportunities to catch large striped bass. Eels tend to be the most effective, as are large nine inch swim shads. Incoming tide brings cool ocean water through the inlets. The action may not be fast and furious but any bass you do hook may be the biggest of the season. One good thing about fishing the surf in August is you are practically guaranteed to have your spot to yourself. The new moon is August 2nd this season so plan accordingly to fish late night tides.
August also brings large fluke into our nearshore waters. The forty to eighty foot depths outside of the south shore inlets and along the rips of Montauk offer great action for many fluke aficionados. As the local bays warm up, fluke tend to migrate into the cooler ocean waters waiting for any bait to be flushed out of the inlets. Heavy bucktails tipped with large peruvian spearing, whole squid or strips of fluke belly are the mainstays for this fishery. Many anglers also fish a teaser above the bucktail and it often accounts for many of the catches. Sea bass are also a welcome catch while fluke fishing. Just remember to check the current regulations before you go fishing since they are structured differently than years past.
August 18th is the full moon and that means the hard tail speedsters will arrive near the east end inlets and north shore harbors. Bonito are usually the first to arrive, followed by the popular false albacore. Clouds of spearing and bay anchovies will get pulled out of the bays by the strong moon tides where the little tuna will wait and make calculated ambush attacks. Often times their presence is known by terns which fly rapidly above the speedsters, occasionally dipping toward the surface when the baitfish are pushed from below. Fly anglers across the island anxiously await this time of year, armed with nine and ten weight fly rods and boxes full of carefully crafted flies. First light until around eight am is usually the best time to find the feeding bonito and albacore, however some of my best days for them were during a nasty, grey, overcast days with a honking northeast wind. Every year is different in regards to the amount of bonito and albacore that show up, but there’s no better way to spend a few hours before work watching the backing disappear from your fly reel.
August is also the best time to get youngsters involved in fishing. Take them down to a local dock with some snapper poppers or spearing under a float and teach them the wonders of nature. The last month of summer is here and before we know it the temperature will start to drop and the boats will be out of the water so make the most of what our island has to offer.