This summer’s record-breaking heat and seasonally high water temperatures may not seem conducive to catching much of anything if you’re new to recreational fishing. Yet thousands of anglers are seeking and catching the most popular saltwater fishing species in August, often with a refreshing breeze blowing while on the water, so consider joining them.
What should you target? Certainly that depends on where you live (or vacation). Looking at the continental U.S., the options are varied and include:
• Bottom fishing -- for the likes of flounder, halibut, grouper, sea bass, croaker, porgies, spot, snapper, and rockfish, to name a few -- mostly done in the ocean and large bays and relatively near the coastline.
• Inshore casting -- for spotted seatrout, striped bass, bluefish, redfish, snook, and ladyfish -- which takes place in bays behind barrier islands, near marshes, along backwater flats, and in generally shallow environs.
• Surf fishing -- for a variety of bottom species as well as sharks, drum, flounder, striped bass, bluefish, snook (south Florida), and others -- both by casting and fishing with bottom rigs and bait.
• Inshore trolling -- for Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, striped bass, and bluefish among others -- mostly done with assorted lures.
• Offshore trolling -- for such pelagic species as striped marlin, blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, and bonito, as well as wahoo and mahi-mahi -- the distance of which from shore varies by locale, and requires big boats and specialized gear.
There is no best saltwater fish to catch in August, as “best” depends on personal preferences and local abundance. Regionally, the top August saltwater fishing target species are striped bass and flounder in the Northeast; drum and flounder in the mid-Atlantic; spotted seatrout and redfish in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico; and assorted rockfish species on the West Coast.
Even within a region, however, the availability of some popular targets varies. Striped bass, for example, are widely sought for most of the summer in Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay, but not in Virginia’s portion, since the latter state closes the Chesapeake striped bass season from mid-June until October. Meanwhile, stripers are a main summer quarry in the cooler ocean waters from New Jersey to Massachusetts.
You may notice that salmon aren’t mentioned here. Some historically popular saltwater fishing species in August, as well as commercially important ones, are under mandated strict conservation measures due to poor stocks. This is particularly true for Pacific salmon, but also includes striped bass and grouper. Seasons and catch limits for these species have recently changed (and are subject to more changes as well as sudden closures), so be attentive to what the current regulations are as established for the state waters where you’ll be fishing.