I’m not going to sugar coat things. I have lived on Long Island for the past 12 years, and by far this has been the worst fishing season that I have seen. A lot has to do with the wind and brown tide (Great South Bay area). The good news is we still have half the year left. If the second half of the season turns out to be as good as last year’s fall run, I will be thrilled. August is usually the last month for inshore seabass. As the month ends black seabass begin to migrate to deeper water. As the seabass begin to thin out you will still be able to bring home some fillets if you don’t mind eating porgies and triggerfish. Because both of these fish have very small mouths its best to stick with natural baits. Worms, squid and clams will work best. Make sure to use small hooks. If you are unsure what size hooks to use just hit your local tackle shop and pick up some pre-tied porgy rigs.
Let’s be honest, weakfish in the spring were a no-show. However, the last few years the month of August has been great for “summer weaks.” Most of these fish are on the smaller size; however, don’t be surprised if you pull out a few fish in the 6 or 7 pound range. These summer weakfish are usually found in large schools. It makes for a great day with the kids before they head back to school. My go to lure is a simple 1oz jig head rigged with a Zman minnow. There is a good chance that you will come across small black seabass, porgies, blowfish and snappers while you are targeting these weakfish. All of these fish can be a nuisance as they tend to bite the tails of your swim baits. That is why I suggest you use a swim bait from Zman. You will be amazed at how well they hold up. These baits have 10x the elasticity of most swim baits. When it comes to summer weakfish I prefer Zman over Gulp!
Fluke in August is a safe bet for those that don’t fish in areas that hold summer weakfish. Whether you are fishing in the bay or out in the ocean this month historically produces most of the season’s double digit size fish. If you have your heart set on a doormat, I suggest you take some time before your trip to catch a few snappers. A live snapper is much better than a dead one. So that means you need to catch your snappers with care. Do not use snapper hooks with long shanks that are usually sold attached to a bobber. I cut the hook off and attach a very small circle hook. When placing them in your live well use a de-hooker instead of grabbing the snapper with your hands. If you prefer to use only artificials, I recently tested a product called squid strips. They are made by Fat Cow Fishing. They are meant to replace natural squid strips. I suggest you give them a try. They are scented and will last you the whole day and then some.
With water temperatures peaking, August might give you your best shot at finding some mahi. You definitely need a little luck in finding mahi within sight of land. As you go further offshore you may run into hi-flyers that are known to hold mahi. However, you may not come across these hi-flyers for 30-40 miles. If you are fortunate enough to find something floating you may be in luck. I am going to give you one of my secret ways to catch mahi. Most people believe that mahi will eat anything and everything you put in front of them. This is not true. As these fish get bigger they can become very picky eaters. Here is what you need to do. Have one person on the boat cast a popper. Have them work the popper hard, the more of a commotion the better your results will be. Keep doing it until you notice the mahi getting “lit up.” They will actually change colors once as they begin to get excited. Once they are lit up, have another person cast a natural bait out (squid, killies, peanut bunker, etc). At this point cast the popper right above your natural bait. As you bait begins to sink the mahi should bounce on it. Don’t be surprised if a mahi also strikes the popper as they begin to compete with each other for food. This is usually one of the last things I will try. If it doesn’t work try to leave the floating debris for 15-20 minutes then try it again. Just make sure you are able to relocate the floating debris.
A great backup plan to mahi fishing is shark fishing. I fish with some very good shark tournament fisherman. I’m amazed at how they rig their baits. I do things a little different than most. To be honest, I’m not looking to harvest a shark so I have a very relaxed view of shark fishing. In August you are more likely to hook up with a tiger or a hammerhead than you are with a thresher or mako. I have to admit bringing a tiger or hammerhead boat side is pretty cool. I usually pick up 2 buckets of bunker chum, a flat of mackerel, and a flat of bunker for chunking. I fish three rods at different depths. Two of the rods get a mackerel filet the other gets a whole mackerel hooked through its mouth. That’s it! I’m sure some may make fun of me but if I’m not tournament fishing I like to keep things simple and easy. By the way, the first time my wife and I ever went shark fishing we landed several different species of sharks. Browns, blues and a mako. Not too bad for our first time out. Two other quick things. First, safety is everything. Even though I take a relaxed approach to sharking I take a very serious approach towards safety. Second, please do not mistake a great white for a mako. There seems to be an increase in great whites in our area. You don’t want to come back to the dock with a great white by mistake. The fines are steep!
Last year I landed my first blue marlin ever. We caught the marlin trolling in between the Coimbra and the Little Fish Tales area. In fact last year on 6 different trips we had encountered either a white or blue marlin. I know people love to catch tuna because how great they fight; however, listening to one of your reels scream while watching a marlin tail walk is awesome. I never leave the dock looking to target marlin. They will more than likely attack what you would normally troll for tuna. Here is something you may not realize…it’s illegal to take a billfish out of the water for a picture or any other reason if you don’t harvest the fish. If you are going to release the fish keep it in the water while you take your pictures.