From the canyons to the inlets, July fishing holds a tremendous number of options. Fluke, seabass, stripers, blues, and a few Gulfstream refugees are on the chew as water temps move up. Offshore and near offshore options abound as well from sharks to tuna, we may even see those giant bluefins close in again this year.
There aren’t as many bass and blues in the back bays as water temperatures rise, but there are still some fish in there. From Shinnecock to Oceanside the marsh banks are an incredible haven for recently hatched baits. Casting spooks and poppers at first and last light will surprise you with how many eager stripers and some blues give a great fight on light tackle or on fly. Nick at Haskell’s in East Quogue has gotten reports and encouraged customers to target these areas during the flood with the cooler ocean water triggering many bites.
While back in the bay don’t ignore the fluke. A high low small bucktail setup will work well in skinny water to get a few in the box without having to beef up the setup to target double digits in 70 ft of water. Fishbites and Gulp are a better option instead of spearing as the sea robins are here and hungry. Don’t be scared to throw a few on ice, I was made a believer last season that while you need a lot of them, they do make a tasty meal.
One summer back bay/inlet strategy I was turned on to a couple of years ago was the big baits for big fluke. With snappers in abundance, getting the 3 per person limit and heading to the inlet has produced quite a few doormats. I’ve had better luck with dead snappers over the past few seasons. This method also nailed the winner for my son years back in a season-long sea robin tournament that Haskell’s in East Quogue runs each season.
Always at the top of the list for tastiest inshore species, black seabass season is open. A lot of us have been scratching our heads as to the limit being 3 at 15 inches until September 1st when the bag limit goes to 7. Only a few weeks into the New York season though there’s going to be plenty of knot heads on the inshore wrecks and reefs and 3 of them will make enough of a meal or ceviche for a few to enjoy. Towards the end of the month, some triggerfish should show. Although it seems you need a chainsaw to filet them, it’s worth the work. Clams aren’t the only option for seabass as A007 jigs with yellow or white tubes have proven themselves from Breezy Point to Montauk.
Whale and dolphin sightings are up significantly in the past month and for good reason with the amount of bunker around. The warmer waters of July are brutal if you’re a bunker and a lot of fun if you’re a fisherman. The extra step in snag and drop is still in effect with any fishing for striped bass using bait needs to be on a circle hook. Keeping a dedicated spinning rod on board with a bunker snag and switching the snagged ones to a circle hook isn’t that big a deal and exponentially increases the chance of released fish surviving after a release. Most of the bass working the bunker pods are over slot size. Please take a few extra minutes to revive these big ones that are the cornerstone of the fishery.
I prefer big plugs like the Doc or oversized pencil poppers and metal lip surface swimmers. I’m a junkie for a topwater take as most are. Without fail each season quite a few anglers throwing plugs for big bass on the edges of the pods get a toothy surprise in the form of a spinner or brown shark. Threshers are also close to the beach feeding on bunker. Plenty of stories around of guys fluking or live lining bunker and got into a nice tail whipper.
Near offshore sharking has a big change this year and next with a moratorium on harvesting makos. For those venturing out to that 5–20-mile range to put out a slick in hopes of wrestling with a pelagic beast, there may not be a picture of a trophy mako hanging from the scale but the fight with one is an amazing memory. Big blue sharks, the occasional hammerhead and big threshers will put up a great fight as well.
Tuna season is off to a great start. After last year’s mind-bending bite of bluefin so close to shore, a trip to the edge isn’t always necessary. Wrecks like Coimbra present amazing opportunities with a short run to get on bluefin and yellowfin both with bait and for jig and pop. If it’s one of your first trips check in with your local shop to be sure your gear is up to the battle to avoid heartbreak…. which usually can strike even the overprepared anglers.
Fuel costs have really had an impact on the roads and the water. Charter captains have had to adjust prices, chipping in for gas that in past years was appreciated but not taken now is, and regular runs offshore aren’t as spontaneous. But when you do go, it’s an experience like nothing else. Bigeye tuna will be moving in this month, along with Allisons, and yellowfins. Trolling exclusively or to find the fish and give the jigs and poppers a shot should raise some incredible fish. Put your time in reaching out to your network of anglers and at your local tackle shop beforehand. Intel is the key. A fairly sure bet on the way out or back home is to stop at lobster pots to throw soft plastics or peanut bunker for mahi, delicious and scrumptious mahi.
Talk next month -Good luck out there!