August OTW Magazine Eastern LIS Fishing Forecast
After several months of fishing that anglers are just itching and waiting for, August is one of those months can drive some anglers a little coo-coo. Summer doldrums and dog days are often adjectives associated with August, but rest assured there’s definitely good fishing to be found!
August usually marks the very beginning precursors of the fall run. Yes, I know, I know – it’s too early to be talking about the fall run! But whether you like it or not, the weather is going to change soon and water temperatures are going to start to decline – and the fish can sense it!
This month should be the time when fluke fishermen take some time to really target those doormats of the year. During August and early September, Summer Flounder – especially the large ones – will start to move from their summertime haunts into deeper water in preparation for their fall migration. Over the next couple of months fluke will work their way out into their winter grounds, so they are just beginning to get prepared for the move. Similar to the way people start to shift closer to the front door when they’re looking to leave a party in the near future, these fish are just starting to think about migrating. Look for mussel beds, rock piles, and ledges in water more than 75 feet deep to catch the doormats on the move.
Sea Bass fishing and Porgy fishing should be kicking into high-gear as well. By this time of the season, the popular and well-known spots have definitely been hit hard. So like I mentioned a couple months back, take a look at your charts (C-Map, Navionics, etc) and try to find some of those off-the-beaten-path spots with deeper water structure.
As much as anglers looking for striped bass might get frustrated with too many bluefish around, most fishermen will admit the bluefish can be a lot of fun. Personally I must admit that one of my pet peeves is hearing anglers refer to bluefish as “trash fish.” Sure, I want to catch a monster striper as much as the next guy, but when big blues are in the area fishing can be about as exciting as it gets. While live-lining Bunker can be a thrilling method of catching big bass and big blues, bluefish have a knack for biting a Bunker in half just behind the hook. Artificial lures are a surefire way to keep you in the action without too much time wasted re-rigging. Rather than sacrifice countless soft plastics to the bluefish gods, I’m a big fan of topwater plugs for bluefish action.
There are plenty of commercially produced poppers and spooks available at every tackle shop. My preference is to grab wooden lures when bluefish are nearby. Yes, wooden lures will get chomped and bitten and beat-up by those voracious bluefish, but I’ve found they tend to last longer. A beat up wooden pencil popper will still catch bluefish as long as you can cast it and make it splash around. Plastic lures – no matter how good they work initially – tend to go from catching to destroyed more quickly (in my opinion). Look for pencil poppers made by Guppy, Gibbs, or (if I may say so myself) 247 Lures. Some of the biggest bluefish I’ve ever seen were caught on the Fish Stick, Sea Special, and similar style plugs.
Most angler have been catching striped bass throughout the summer, but now is your chance to catch some of the big girls. Not unlike the Summer Flounder, stripers are just beginning to think about their fall run. Again, they won’t really be migrating for another month or two, but they are surely starting to stage themselves in preparation. During the month of August, Striped Bass can be found in shallow water boulder fields, in the rips/cuts near heavy current, as well as in deeper water on reefs. Those anglers with the ability to travel to Block Island have the possibility to catch the fish of a lifetime!
The weather and cloud conditions will dictate how I target striped bass on any given day during August. After dark I’m generally drifting live eels or soft plastics, but dawn and dusk twilight is a great opportunity to catch bass on top-water pencil poppers and spooks. During mid-day fishing when the sun is high, live-lining or three-waying Bunker is an excellent way to coax a bass into feeding. But remember, the water is warm and a fight can really beat a fish into exhaustion – please take care when releasing those bass to make sure they are revived and ready to swim away.
Of course I’d kick myself if I didn’t at least mention those funny fish – False Albacore and Bonita. As Labor Day weekend approaches on the calendar, everyone in New England should know that the funny fish are approaching as well. The toughest part is, none of us really know exactly WHEN they are going to arrive! The anticipation can be maddening to those of us obsessed with these aquatic speedsters, and can depend on weather patterns, baitfish migrations, and more. Some anglers will make weekly (if not daily) stops to their local hot spots in the hopes of catching that first hard-tail of the fall. By the last week of August I’m always rigged up and ready to go at a moment’s notice – just in case the fish and the weather all cooperate.