We started the month of August off with what is turning into one of the best mid-shore tuna bites we have seen in years. The bluefin set up along the massive amounts of bait (sand eels) that were found all along the 30-fathom line. The areas around the Resor, Bacardi, Coimbra and Ranger wrecks have all been very productive. Early in the month the bite was mostly on trolled side trackers and skirted ballyhoos. As the month progressed the jig and popping bite started to do better. As we got later into the month the chunk and live bait became very productive. This trend should continue into the fall. The early morning and late afternoon have been the best time to fish. The weekend crowds seem to push the fish down, so if possible, fish mid-week. If you have to fish on the weekends avoid the fleet. Move away from the competition. Often times you will find fish pop up within a few miles of the fleet and have them all to yourself.
Just south to the 40-fathom line a yellowfin bite also developed. This bite extended from north of the Hudson all the way to the flats by the Tails. These tunas also responded well to the troll, but later in the summer turned into more of a chunk bite. Butterfish, anchovies, live peanut bunker have all been good options. Lobster pots that are prominent in these areas became loaded with mahi mahi. In early August they were mostly gaffer size, but as we approached the end of the month fish into the high teens were reported. Chunking them into a frenzy and then tossing a bait back is always a good option. If you have small live bait even better. Wahoo fishing has been a little slower this year, but late August it did pick up. Hi-speed trolling around lobster pots and any floating debris is the way to go.
Sharks have been a nuisance this season to tuna fishermen. With the mild winter, the waters offshore warmed up quickly this summer. This gateway allowed many warm water sharks to comfortably roam up from Florida and the Carolinas into our area. Bull sharks have been caught close to shore. Spinner sharks have been mistaken for dolphins as they put on their aerial display. The big problem for anglers is the surge in numbers of these predators has increased the probability of being a bit off. These large sharks sit back, when they detect a struggling tuna or hooked fish, they come in for the free meal. Switching to larger tackle and increased drags may take a little of the sportiness out but can mean the difference between boating your trophy or losing it to the sharks.
The closer Canyons were off to a slow start this season (probably because the yellowfin were up on the flats). The Hudson, Dip and Tails saw little production in early August. Boats with the range to travel to Atlantis and East did very well with big eye, marlin, albacore, and yellowfin. Later in August, the water from the east pushed closer to the Tails where things started to pick up. The night chunk bite was very slow. The middle of the month saw an increase of swordfish being caught and I would expect the chunk bite to pick up as we go into September.
Hurricane Isaias tore up the coast at the beginning of the month. Thankfully she took a more inland coastal path. It was a quick fierce storm that didn’t seem to affect the fishing at all. A few days after the storm things settled down and bait congregated along with the pelagics pretty much right where they left off.
As we move closer to shore shark fishing was red hot in 20 fathoms and closer. Thresher sharks seem to be the dominant catch. They were caught just off Montauk Point out to 20 fathoms. Locate the bunker pods and set up. The Ranger wreck, Jenny and Ryan’s horns, as well as the CIA grounds, saw mixed action of tuna and sharks. With plenty of other species being released. As days get shorter and the water starts to cool the warm water sharks will leave and seek a more comfortable environment. As the fall run begins mako sharks should become more available with a return of blue sharks.
Along the shore there was plenty of action with bluefish and striped bass. The bunker pods along the south shore held a good amount of bass. The rips around Montauk had their usual resident bass and bluefish. Trolling, drifting eels, chunks and jigging were all productive methods. The reefs were very productive for sea bass. They fell mostly to jigged squid and clam bellies. Fluke fishing has been slow but consistent. Plenty of shorts being caught and released with occasionally 5 to 7-pound fish taken. Blowfish and porgies have also been available throughout August. Fun to catch and very good eating plenty of anglers were targeting them.
Peanut banker and snappers invaded the shallow bay waters. Snappers are a fun fish to catch right off the dock. Not as oily as mature bluefish they fry up nice for a quick treat. Snappers also make a hardy bait to keep alive and take out to target other species. They make great baits for fluke, bass, mahi, and tuna.
On the North shore the Long Island Sound had fairly consistent fluke fishing. Mostly drift fishing from a boat anglers using squid spearing combos had great success. The striped bass fishing off Eaton’s Neck triangle area slowed with the dog days of summer. Porgies and snappers could be found inside Huntington Bay. As you head further east towards the North Fork fishing seems to get better. There are many opportunities as school size bluefish are marauding bunker schools. These bluefish are responding well to both jigs and surface plugs. Live lining a bunker is as close as a guarantee as you can get. There has been some mid teen bass mixed in with these fish. Fluke fishing has been dominated by shorts, but if you do your work and cull through them you will be rewarded with a keeper or two. Weakfish have been mixed in with the fluke as the tides change. They have been hitting rigs and baits meant for fluke. Sea bass and porgies have been fairly consistent and have saved many trips this summer. Smaller hooks topped with either squid or clam belly has been the most productive.
There have been a disturbing amount of boating accidents so far in 2020. Please be careful and remember that regardless of who has the right of way, the best accident is the one that is avoided all together. Be safe and have fun!