The Fall Run Begins In August!

Does The Fall Run Begin In August?. While it is not a stretch to imagine bass at the northernmost part of their range hanging a U-turn this month, the truth is that stripers throughout the Northeast are getting fall-run ready during the dog days of summer. Schools of small mullet and peanut bunker begin gathering in the bays this month, and schoolie stripers feed on them noisily through the night. The beginning of the run may be most pronounced at the Cape Cod Canal, where in recent years schools of stripers have been seen following the west tide from Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay as early as the Ides of August. Farther north, larger stripers start schooling up and moving into rocky shorelines from the North Shore of Massachusetts to Maine. The bass are attracted into the surf by the young-of-the-year baitfish concentrations that begin spilling out of the estuaries and harbors this month. In New England, it’s often the biggest fish that are first to shift off their summer patterns, and as with most quality-over-quantity fishing, it can mean long stretches of little action while waiting for a small group of big fish to make its way through. Eels (both rigged and live), minnow plugs, and needlefish are staples in the New England August plug bag. In New Jersey and western Long Island, it’s the opposite. Smaller, resident bass begin feeding in big numbers, mostly in the bays and harbors.
Mike Azevedo lands a big summer striper on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Pictured above: Mike Azevedo lands a big summer striper on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

It’s the hottest month of the summer. Water temperatures are approaching their peak in most parts of the Northeast, and in many places, striper-minded surfcasters are biding their time, waiting for the cool northwesterlies of September to usher schools of stripers south. But, perhaps August is worth a second look from anglers willing to expend some extra effort to catch the bass that quietly slip by ahead of the main migration.

While it is not a stretch to imagine bass at the northernmost part of their range hanging a U-turn this month, the truth is that stripers throughout the Northeast are getting fall-run ready during the dog days of summer.

Live eels, live spot and jigs are the most effective baits for fall stripers off Cape May Point.
Live eels, live spot and jigs are the most effective baits for fall stripers off Cape May Point.

Even in the tepid late-summer backwaters of South Jersey, I can count on an uptick in striper activity this month. This increase in action is brought on not by falling temperatures or shorter days, but by an increase in the abundance of larger baitfish. Schools of small mullet and peanut bunker begin gathering in the bays this month, and schoolie stripers feed on them noisily through the night.

On Long Island, August is regarded as a month when hard-working surfcasters have a shot at a cow cruising the Montauk surf.

Fall surfcaster
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