August Large…By Bill Wetzel

August Large…By Bill Wetzel

When people ask me what the best month is to fish Montauk I just kind cringe because that is such a loaded question. I can tell you what my favorite month to fish is. It is indeed August. If you are willing to put in the time and figure out where the bait is, August can be your best shot to strike a few cows than any other month of the season. I have been fishing the Montauk suds for more than 30 years and guiding there about one half of those years. What I am about to tell is my theory based on those years. For me it is not theory, it is fact.

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I want you to think of all the spearing and snappers you see at the local docks this time of year. Now picture that same bait in the surf. That is some yummy treats for large resident stripers that have been holding in the rips in Montauk since late June. Sometime in late July or early August you will begin to see spearing in the Montauk surf.  These spearing have recently migrated from the bays. More than likely the Peconics and Napeague, although the specific migration route remains unclear to me. The first moon of August is a very important one for the migration of snappers. Water temps are usually in the low seventies, and on this moon or very shortly thereafter you will begin to see snappers in the night suds. The big resident girls that have been holding outside in the rips will come into certain areas on the north or south side, usually on specific tides to feed on the newly arrived bait. This is very condition specific and a number of factors can throw a bite completely off in August. If you want to target these big girls your job is to first find the bait, and that aint easy! There was a time that I would walk the entire south side during the day casting snapper rigs to find where the bait is. These days I just do not have the time, and I have found that usually the bait will hold in a few areas year after year. Where are these areas? That I will leave to you for a homework assignment.

Once you have found the bait you need to know when to fish it and what to throw. The only way to know when to fish it is to fish the area all night long, and note at what tide stage the fish showed up, if they showed up at all. If they did not show then you might want to change another location that is holding bait for the next night. This fishing is not easy, sometimes requires miles of walking, and the chance of getting nothing is very good.  I like throwing live eels to these fish. The water temps are high and these big fish are very lazy. Put a live eel in the appropriate water and they are going to pounce on it.  Other options are plugs that are going to have a snapper profile. Darters are a great choice, and I have had plenty of large bass on them during August months. My largest plugged bass actually came during the month of August on a bomber long A.  I never weighed her and she may have been near or over fifty pounds, but I will never know because she was released.

Getting back to the theory. Towards the end of the month you may find a sudden increase in schoolie fish. These fish will hit your plug harder and usually be lighter in color than the schoolies you had been catching during previous nights. These fish are not resident schoolies, they’re migrators that have just arrived. I have found that the large resident cows will not mix with these fish and you are better off moving to another location if you happen upon this type of bite. The big resident fish will usually begin there migration during the first moon of September or the first major storm, whatever comes first. New fish will arrive however the August fish will be gone until next August. This is a very short version of targeting large in August, and hopefully serves the purpose for the SCJ blog. .  Perhaps down the road I will put my thoughts of August to a full article for the SCJ. Happy Hunting!!

Bill Wetzel is what we like to call “The Hardest Working Guide in the Surf”. A quintessential Montauk Regular Bill works hard at teaching his clients the secrets of Montauk coves and consistently puts them on the fish. No wonder most of his customers come back for more year after year. Bill also runs a Surf Rats ball, Subscribers only forum at There he exchanges ideas with his subscribers and of course, logs each and every one of his trips for all to read. Check it out at


8 comments on “August Large…By Bill Wetzel

  1. Matt vigg

    I’m kind ashamed to admit with the exception of about a half an hour daytime fishing at Jones beach and maybe the same in LBI NJ .I really hope that the trip i have I planned for MTK right after the new moon in August so Bill I hope with whatever work I can put in then I hope to hook into something of size.I always enjoy reading your stuff Bill.thank you.

  2. bill wetzel

    Thanks for the nice words Matt.. For me that is one of the, if not the most significant moons of the yeear. There is lots going on for that moon. Increase in snappers, spearing, white bait. Resident large I personallly beleive are getting ready to move, and you have an influx of migrating fish. Most likely will take some work, but your chances are greatly improved for a nice fish or two.

  3. sioca

    Bill, as always, great article.

    A bit puzzled about the moon phase you mention in the article.

    Q: When you say: “The first moon of August…” Are you implying: The first quarter? (8/4) or are you implying: The full moon? (8/10)

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. bill wetzel

    FIrst moon of August meaning full or new. This year the full….. I have already seen lots of spearing, and snappers are right where they should be. Baring a major storm we should be on schedule this year for the bait to set up.

    1. sioca

      Bill, thanks for your reply.
      Understood……….though, out of the 2, my preference would be the New but I’ll give a shot to the Full all things considering.

  5. john copen

    Thanks Bill. Love this post. Shared it on Gateway Striper Club facebook. Your the best guide in the business and I will always be gratefull to you for teaching me a tiny bit of what you know. Now if I could only get my casts less than 300 feet off the ground :)))


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