A Camper Van Conversion That Won’t Cost a Mint

Maryland-based brand will build you a spanking new adventure rig, van included, for less than you’d think.


If you’re in the market for an adventure van but you’re lacking the time, inclination, mechanical know-how, tools, or workspace needed to kit out a van yourself, you’re also staring down the barrel of a stomach-churning $100k purchase price, or thereabouts, for a custom-built off-the-grid capable van. Rear-wheel drive and 4×4 vans are already expensive as it is, and that price shoots way, way up into the stratosphere when you start fitting them out with sinks and beds and solar panels.

But now there’s a Maryland-based company that promises a selling price dramatically less than the mortgage for a house, for a custom-made adventure rig.

Off Grid Adventure Vans is building camp-ready vans for around $60k. And they’re taking orders.

Started by Aaron Fensterheim, a sound engineer who’d spent years living in vans himself, the idea is simple. Build (relatively) inexpensive adventure vans for people who aren’t sitting on piles of cash. He also wanted to focus on the east coast market, figuring there were already plenty of #vanlife options out west.

Off Grid builds their rigs primarily on the Dodge Promaster platform, both the 1500 and 2500 models. Fensterheim likes the Dodge because it’s front-wheel drive and a bit cheaper than the 4×4 models lots of #vanlifers run; the base van itself costs only about $30k. The build out is another $30k, depending on options.

The local dealership Off Grid gets their vans from also finances the van plus the conversion, putting one of these rigs in reach for people who don’t have tens of thousands of dollars in cash just lying around.

The conversion looks well-thought out and well-appointed too. That $30k gets the buyer: Full-size bed, wood-paneled living/dining area that can seat six, full kitchen with sink, Dometic fridge/freezer combo, propane tank, composting toilet, two-burner stove, and a 200w solar kit, among other goodies.

The vans are built in Maryland, but they’ll deliver them wherever you like. Though, a van like this really needs to be driven back to your home, preferably in a trip taking weeks, touring plenty of public lands.

Photos: Off Grid Adventure Vans

The Basics of Bonefish: What You Need to Know

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the beauty and grace of the tarpon. This week we turn to another pillar of saltwater’s Big Three — the bonefish. And there’s no better authority on the grey ghost than Bjorn Stromsness, who has spent more than his fair share of time on the flats. When the Northern Californian is not chasing bonefish, he’s writing about them on his blog, Bonefish on the Brain.

TFO chatted with Stromsness by phone for a few minutes last week to glean a few pointers on bonefish. Below are excerpts of our conversation, a handful of tidbits for novice or intermediate bonefishermen.

BS: “They say the same thing about trout. Bonefish live in beautiful places — where it’s sunny, warm, tropical. You think of beer or something with rum in it and you think of bonefish, too. Part of the (appeal) is location, which is hard to beat.

“Another thing, when I trout fish, I don’t see a lot of the trout I catch before I get them on the line. Bonefishing is so visual. You should see every bonefish before you even cast to it. It’s very different from where you go out and cast to likely spots. That visual element is really appealing.

“And then there’s the fish itself. It puts you to the test. You have to be able to make the cast. You have to be able to make the presentation. You need to be able to see the fish. And when you catch the fish, there’s a power to the bonefish that’s just way out of scale compared to most other fish. If you put all of that together, it’s a pretty compelling package.”

BS: “St. Brandon’s Atoll is where I would go followed closely by the Seychelles and followed by that would be Christmas Island. I’m actually going there in January. Those are exotic places with shots at so many different species — from GTs, to bumphead parrots — and there’s lots of bonefish, too.

“St. Brandon’s Atoll is in the middle of nowhere. There’s no airport. You get there by boat. It’s like a 20-hour boat ride. There’s no one else around. It’s very, very isolated and it’s not close to anything. When people talk about what it was like to fish in the 1800s, it probably isn’t any different now in St. Brandon’s than it was 200 years ago. It just doesn’t get the pressure that other places get. It’s high on my wish list of fantasy places to go. As good as that place is, I just got back from a week in the Bahamas. It was awesome.”

BS: “Go to Belize. Or Mexico. You can do Belize fairly cheap. I’ve even flown Southwest. Prices there are lower than you’re going to find in a lot of places. The fish are small, but you also have more shots and permit as well. There are places in Belize you can do on a budget; there are places in the Bahamas you can do on a budget. It’s just that the flights to the Bahamas are a little harder sometimes. They might have a flight in or out on one day. It can be harder (to travel). Mexico or Belize can certainly provide budget opportunities.

“With (the Florida) Keys, their bonefish population is way, way down. It’s not that people aren’t catching them. They are, but they’re probably catching more redfish than bonefish down there these days.”

BS: “The casting. It’s different from most fly fishing. You’re going to have to make a cast in a specific place in a 25-mile-an-hour wind. It’s a unique skill set. I’ve seen confident, proficient trout fishermen lose their minds not being able to make it happen.

“The thing any angler going for the first time needs is a 40-foot double haul. Forty feet is not far, but when the wind is really blowing and you have to cast in the face of it, it can be really daunting. Classically, people think you need a 70-foot cast for bonefish. You don’t. Most of your fish will be caught at 40 feet. It’s not that it’s far. You need to be able to do it in the wind with a little finesse. If you slap a fly down in front of a bonefish, they’re not going to eat it. The main thing is just getting the cast.”

BS: “Whenever you can. It’s trite, but it’s true. I was just in Grand Bahama in July. I was in Mexico last year at this time. It was amazing. It was fantastic. It’s not the time people are bonefishing generally. But, the wind was really low. Yes, it was hot. The wind being a non-factor was so different. There are tradeoffs. People tend to think of bonefishing in March, April, May. Really, it’s whenever you can go. It makes more sense to pay more attention to tides than time of year. You want a good incoming, so you have a good shot at it. That’s what you want. Places I’ve been on the wrong tides have made it more difficult.”

BS: “You only need an 8-weight. You don’t need a 9. Some places they say you need a 9. You don’t need a 9. You only need an 8. If you need to, up line by one weight. With most of the lines out there, an 8-weight line isn’t an 8-weight line, it’s an 8.5. You really don’t need to up line, usually. You need a good 8-weight line and a good large arbor reel. The leader? Something 12, 14 feet. I make my own — 4 feet of 40-pound butt, 2 feet of 30, 2 feet of 20 and then the tippet. I’m usually going with fluoro, 15-pound. It’s simple and saves money.”

Little Tunny on Fly

Little Tunny on Fly
Fly fishing tactics for false albacore in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic coasts

Every year, in late summer and early fall, hordes of speedy little tunny, aka bonito in Florida and false albacore (albies for short) in Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, terrorize baitfish schooling near shore, along the eastern Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic coast, affording fly anglers ample opportunity for exciting nearshore action.

Carolina Style
Last September, while on assignment in North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, I had the chance to fish with Capt. Joe Shute just as a dip in temperature — accompanied by strong northerly winds — signaled the imminent arrival of fall. The moment we cleared Beaufort Inlet, the veteran guide turned left and had his Parker cruising along Shackleford Banks en route to our first stop of the day, all the while scanning the surf for signs of feeding albies. “The Hook ought to be good this morning, with the wind blowing like it is,” he said, referring to Cape Lookout, a spit of land shaped like a fish hook that creates a natural pocket where baitfish congregate, shielded from stiff breezes blowing from virtually any direction.

Sure enough, as we entered Lookout Bight, the surface was flat calm. That is, except for the pods of silversides frantically jumping out of the water, and the green torpedoes right on their trail. Wolf packs of albies, expertly applied their guerrilla tactics, embarking in brief skirmishes and disappearing just long enough to let the bait regroup before launching the next attack.

Hook, Release, Repeat
Three other boats were already on the scene, two of them with anglers hooked up at the bow. Soon, feeding little tunny materialized within casting range, so I sent a Clouser Minnow in the direction of the melee, tucked the rod in my left armpit, and stripped the fly line at a fast clip with both hands. My fly hadn’t traveled 15 feet when a football-shaped 7-pounder claimed it and peeled line from my whining reel. After a spirited fight on an 8-weight outfit that lasted just under 10 minutes, the speedster was welcomed aboard for a quick snap shot and hook removal, before it was dropped back in the drink head first.

The action at Cape Lookout was fast but intermittent, and we spent more time chasing short-lived flurries than fighting fish. Nevertheless, we landed 5 or 6 fish, and pulled the hook on two or 3 others in the couple of hours it took for the albies to shut down.

Looking for Shrimpers
Once the fish quit biting at the Hook, Shute ran back toward Beaufort Inlet and moved out, about a mile and a half off the beach, to look for shrimp boats trawling. He picked out one with birds hovering all over its wake, and quickly approached, instructing me to cast and let the fly sink a bit before stripping. My third cast was rewarded with a strike, and the fight was on. It turns out, however, that albies weren’t the only ones lurking around the shrimpers, looking for an easy meal. Spinner sharks, some weighing as much as 150 pounds, were also plentiful and ready to chomp on any hooked albie they could get to before it reached the boat.

That added urgency to our efforts to land the fish and release them quickly. But with Shute chasing down a few of the ones we hooked, and revving up the outboard during the landings to keep the sharks at bay, we tallied another half dozen releases over the next hour, losing only one albie to a spinner.

Gulf Tactics
In Florida, where most anglers refer to albies as bonito, fishing around shrimp boats is also an effective game plan. But dredge holes off the beaches, and the mouths of inlets and passes, where baitfish tend to gather, are also productive locations for fly rodders intent on picking fights with little tunny, and chumming — either with frozen chum and small chunks, or with live pilchards, sardines or threadfin herring — is sometimes used to draw the fish withing casting range and keep them chewing.

Small baitfish imitations are in order when you chum with liveys. But if you opt for chumming with chunks, a simple white marabou or bucktail fly (with a bit of flash) of similar size and fished on a clear, intermidate-sink line is the ticket. Just cast the fly and let it drift down slowly, feeding loose line out for a more natural presentation. And be ready to set the hook as soon as the line comes tight, otherwise the fish will have enough time to realize it’s been duped, and spit out the fly.

In September and October, the left coast of the Sunshine State is peppered with clouds of glass minnows, from a few yards off the beach to about three miles out, and bonito dart in and out of the schools, feasting on the diminutive baitfish. Then, small, sparsely-tied Clousers, Gummy Minnows, and even Crazy Charlies intended for bonefish, are most effective. But rather than cast your fly right into a school of thousands of glass minnows, place it on the outskirts, where it’s more likely to be singled out by a bonito.

Fly Line Choices
While a floating, weight-forward line like a saltwater taper is well suited for most false albacore situations, a second outfit with a clear, intermediate-sink line often comes in handy in clear water during sunny days, or when chumming with chunks, which calls for letting the fly sink slowly without imparting any action to it.

In addition, there are special occasions when a fast-sinking shooting head setup excels. When the fish attack a bait school from below and refuse to come near the surface, for instance, or when you need to punch the fly into a strong wind and get it down past the surface chop quickly to get in on the action.

Stripping Cadence
A quick and steady retrieve, with little or no erratic action, seems to work best for frenzied albies, as the fly mimics a panicked prey doing its darnest to flee, which not only gets the attention of the fish, but also often triggers reaction strikes. Stripping the line with both hands enables you to achieve the necessary speed and cadence more easily.

Line Management is Key
If you need practice clearing your fly line before next tarpon season or an upcoming big-game expedition, go target false albacore a couple of times. The agile little tunny really force you to get your line management down. Once you set the hook, your allowed reaction time to usher loose line through the rod guides before it comes tight is usually quite short, so play it safe and carry extra flies and a number of previously tied spare leaders with a loop on the butt end to replace any broken ones in a jiffy.

When it’s windy, by the way, it makes things easier to only pull off your reel a few more feet of line than you realistically can cast under the existing conditions, and to keep the coils constrained in a tall stripping bucket or a trash can.

Recommended Leaders
A standard 9-foot leader ending with 15-pound tippet is a good all-around choice, but it pays to carry a few 12- and 10-pound for those times when you’re fishing in clear water, under a bright sun, using a small fly to match the glass minnows or whatever other tiny fry albies happen to be feeding on.

Matched Fly Tackle
Although false albacore are strong fighters known for their long, fast runs, most run in the 6- to 10-pound class, and a 7- or 8-weight outfit will handle them nicely. I usually carry a 9-weight as well, for those times when sharks are a nuisance and it’s a must to get a hooked fish in quickly. In Florida, where I live, we often encounter 12- to 15-pounders, and even a few up to 18-pounds now and then, so the heavier outfit gets its share of use.

A fast-action fly rod is highly recommended. It’s ideal for casting a tight loop into the wind, often necessary during the fall. But make sure it also has some backbone to pull sounding albies up to the surface. As for the reel, you need nothing fancy, just a smooth drag and enough capacity for the full fly line plus 150 yards of backing.

Saltwater Edge Tackle and Tactics: Atlantic Bonito

Saltwater Edge Tackle and Tactics: Atlantic Bonito
Atlantic Bonito are typically the first of the “ocean speedsters” to arrive in the waters of Southern New England. Usually, somewhere around the Newport Folk Festival, the fast and tasty bones offer an exciting change of pace to the striped bass fishing that consumed the first half of the season. They are a great gamefish on both light spin and fly gear. This primer is intended to make your time on the water more effective by helping you determine your tackle needs and provide a review of proven tactics. Buckle up for some of the most exciting fishing of the year!


The spin fisherman will need a good quality light tackle rod that will throw lures in the range of 1/2 to 1 ounce. The G Loomis E6X 844S is a seven footer and a shop favorite. Due to its unique transition zones, it has the stiffness to throw smaller metal lures, yet the tip is so sensitive, you feel every beat of the tail. Captain Eric Thomas of Teezer 77 Charters prefers an eight-footer like the St Croix Avid Inshore for bonito, as the added length provides additional casting distance.

Your reel must be substantial enough to handle the powerful runs and have a smooth drag as it will be tested. We like the Daiwa Saltist 4000 because it has the overbuilt Digi Gear providing nearly 40 inches per turn retrieve speed, which may become a critical feature when the bonito turns and burns back at the boat. It is smooth and reliable due to Daiwa’s proprietary Mag Seal a vicious, magnetic material that dynamically lubes and seals the Saltist. Another reel with big performance in a small package is the Van Staal VR50 with 37 inches per turn and all the drag you will need. Shimano is always known for smoothness, and the Twin Power 5000 XD is no exception the 41 inches per turn is best in class.

The benefits of braided line shine when chasing bonito, as it offers some distinct advantages. Most notably, the positive impact it has on casting distance, which is a distinct advantage with this fast-moving target. Consider the smoother eight carrier braids like Power Pro Super Slick and Daiwa J Braid 8x for maximum distance. Also, the strength to diameter ratio helps the line cut through the water during a bonito’s drag melting run. As for leaders, many anglers feel the sharp-eyed bonito give good reason to upgrade to fluorocarbon leaders like Ande and Seaguar in the 10-15 lb range.

Here are the recommendations from two of the Ocean State’s top inshore fishing guides:

Captain Eric Thomas of Teezer77 likes the Po-Jee from Pt Jude Lures because it casts great and has a heavy back end that tracks well. Other flat-sided metal can skip along the surface the Po Jee rides at a slight downward angle and stays on the dinner plate.

The Hogy Epoxy Jigs in bright purple and pink stand out better when there is an abundance of tightly schooled bait. When the bait is dispersed, it makes sense to match the coloration of the predominant baitfish.

Captain Corey Pietraszek Plug N Play Charters prefers the Deadly Dick 1L with Silver or Blue tape, as it has delivered for his clients for years.

Captain Corey’s secret weapon is the Rebel Jumpin Minnow, with only a 1/0 VMC 9626 as the tail hook. He has had plenty of bonito crush a topwater – it is something to see!

The bonito is an excellent fish to target with the fly rod and is one of the highlights of the season. Because the common baits are small like silversides, young of the year herring and sand eels, they can be very well imitated with flies. Most anglers use a fast action 8 or 9 weight rod.

We LOVE the GLoomis Pro 4X Short Stix fly rods. They are short and stiff which means they load fast to get your fly in the action and they have a strong butt to lift with during the fight. We did a Gear Review if you want to learn more. Your reel should have a top-notch drag system. The Hatch 7 Plus is a great combination of a solid drag system on a lightweight USA made reel. For the 8 weight use an Airflo Sniper Intermediate line. The aggressive taper loads fast and can deliver the distance. If you fish a 9 weight consider an Airflo Depthfinder 300 grain in addition to an intermediate. The 300 grain will allow you to fish structure that the bonito use to ambush bait. They do not always “show” when they have the bait in a concentration. Sinking lines load the rod quickly, get the fly in the feeding zone efficiently, and they can punch through the wind and chop. Use a simple 6-8 foot leader with a 30 lb mono butt section tapering to a 15lb fluorocarbon tippet to provide the stiffness to allow your cast to unfurl. With a sinking line, shorten the leader 4or 5 feet. Use the non-slip loop knot to attach the fly as it allows for a more natural movement, as opposed to the straight and stiff clinch knot. Despite the teeth that bonito have, cutoffs are uncommon. Also, these fish can be leader shy, so it is wise to take advantage of both the abrasion resistance and underwater transparency provided by fluorocarbon tippets.

Here are the recommendations from one of the Ocean State’s top fly fishing guides:
altantic bonito

Captain Ryan starts with a sparse Deceiver. The translucent fly suggests life more than directly imitates it. If they are aggressive than this is what they are looking for.

If the fish are tough, he mixes it up by throwing a bright fly like a Tutti Frutti Clouser or a Chartreuse over Yellow Inlet Candy.

Like any gamefish, different tactics will produce on different days. The first hot stable weather of a July “Bermuda High” should get the water temps to 70 degrees and the party started in Southern New England. You want to target clear, moving water with some structure to focus the bait; reefs and steep drop-offs, for example. Bones prefer clean water; a rainy spell will sometimes move them out until clarity returns.

Bonito and its larger relative, the false albacore, “feed with speed,” preferring to eat as a school while coralling and charging through the bait in a full steam ahead manner. Conversely, the more agile bluefish will spin to hammer a plug they failed to chomp on the first pass.

There is a debate among bonito fisherman about retrieve speed. Some like to “rip” the lure or fly across the surface to stimulate a strike. Be sure to maintain a speed where you are “connected” to your offering (easier said than done with fly gear). It’s a common mistake to reel so fast that the lure skips across the surface making the hook set more difficult. The other school advocates a slow retrieve that leaves your lure/fly in the strike zone longer. Toss a weighted Bunny Fly or jig into the school and let it fall through the bait. An offering presented in this manner is “easy pickins” for a tiny tuna to nail the apparently stunned bait on the drop. Best advice is to vary your retrieve between the two extremes.

It is far more effective to study the movements and try to establish a pattern than to “run and gun” chasing the busting fish. For example, there are some “hot spots” above the reef in Watch Hill and the bonito utilizing the structure below commonly “pop” in two or three locations. By observing the situation, you can position the boat, so you are ready; let the action come to you.

Fish the water you have identified regardless if you see breaking fish at the moment, as the surface feeders are the “tip of the iceberg” and most of the feeding is 3-4 feet below the fray. Blind casting can be extremely effective when fish appear to be unwilling to “stay on top.”

When you come upon breaking fish, try to position the boat upwind or up-current of the school, and shut off the motor. This way your engine noise doesn’t disperse the feed ahead of the arrival of the bait. This should give you and other anglers the best opportunity to put your offerings on target. Try to lead the fish by 3-4 feet, allowing them first to see, and then take your offering.

As a last resort or if you are not in an agile center console you might try a trick that Captain Bj Silvia of Flippin Out Charters shared with me recently. Most anglers don’t think to troll; but bonito are popping up sporadically and sounding before you can get off a cast, or if they are simply not showing on the surface, trolling can be effective. Trolling works for BJ along rip lines and allows him to cover more water. He does not have a lure preference as just about any lure used for casting can be trolled for bonito, including flies. On one occasion his technique hooked up four clients at once!

We hope this Tackle and Tactics Primer helps move you up the learning curve with this challenging gamefish. Once you have landed a bonito, then the question becomes “How should you prepare it?” All I can say is, you are in for another treat!

Where to Fish in August and September

The Salt Water Sportsman editors give you the top two locations to go in August and September for your favorite saltwater species, plus guidance regarding why the bite there is smoking hot and how you should plan your next trips.

Pacific Blue Marlin

First choice: Panama
Second choice: Costa Rica

In Panama, blues remain plentiful enough to compete for forage with black marlin along the pronounced color change 12 to 14 miles offshore. While a few 500-pounders make the scene, most of the blues off Panama’s coast fall in the 250- to 350-pound class. The seamounts off Costa Rica remain a reliable option this month.

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: U.S. Virgin Islands
Second choice: Bermuda

Big blue marlin continue to use the deep waters of the North and South drops, near St. Thomas, as highways, and a smaller drop-off near St. Croix also holds its share of blues. In Bermuda, late summer is a great time to hunt for giant blues. Based on past catches, some of the marlin on the prowl may be bona fide granders.

Black Marlin

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Panama

Time for the big blacks to again show up along the Great Barrier Reef, so boats will troll 20- to 40-pound tuna to entice one of the 800-plus-pound girls on patrol. Panama’s Pacific coast offers plenty of 200- to 400-pound blacks this time of year. Many will pounce on small, live bonito or tuna trolled around underwater pinnacles in as little as 300 feet of water.

White Marlin

First choice: Virginia
Second choice: Maryland

The annual white marlin migration up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard continues as wolf packs of hungry fish push northward off Maryland and Virginia’s shores. Now is when game boats out of Virginia Beach, Ocean City, and neighboring ports get in on the action and put up impressive release numbers.

Atlantic Sailfish

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Virginia

White marlin aren’t the only billfish species migrating up the mid-Atlantic coast this time of year. Atlantic sailfish are also on the move. Some of the fish will travel up to Maryland waters, but the greatest concentrations remain widespread off North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Crystal Coast, as well as Virginia waters.

Pacific Sailfish

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Mexico

The extreme release numbers in Guatemala moderate in August and September, yet raising as many as 10 fish a day remains an obtainable goal. On Mexico’s west coast, fleets at popular vacation towns like Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo and Acapulco offer hot action.

Striped Marlin

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Fishing for striped marlin off Cabo San Lucas doesn’t peak for another month and a half, but the bite is already strong enough for visiting anglers to count on multiple strikes a day. Waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are bumpy now, but game boats venturing out still encounter plenty of willing fish.


First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Bermuda

Avid ’hoo chasers have no trouble finding fish off North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and Outer Banks. Most of the wahoo around said parts are 25- to 40-pounders, but enough fish over 50 pounds make it over the gunwale to spice things up. In Bermuda, the world-class wahoo bite that made the offshore banks of Argus and Challenger famous heats up again.

Yellowfin Tuna

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Panama

Schools of aggressive 40- to 75-pound yellowfins seek forage around oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, off southeast Louisiana. Expect the best action in depths beyond 2,500 feet. This time of year, yellowfin tuna also travel along Panama’s Pacific coast, where underwater banks and pinnacles offer the best chances for success.

Bluefin Tuna

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: Prince Edward Island

Boats out of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts, tap into the consistent fishery available in Cod Bay, Jeffreys Ledge, and Georges and Stellwagen banks. In Canadian waters, a fair number of giant bluefins should already be funneling through the Northumberland Straight, before staging in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Turks and Caicos

Bonefish remain both plentiful and aggressive throughout the Bahamas, except during the midday hours, when the heat still pushes them off the flats. The same is true in neighboring Turks and Caicos, so fish the flats in Provo, North, Middle and East Caicos, or Water and Pine cays early or late in the day for best results.


First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Snook season opens in Florida on September 1, when linesiders will still be abundant and widespread in residential canal docks and Intracoastal bridges, as well as mangrove shorelines, inlets and passes, and the adjacent beaches. In Belize, snook fishing quickly improves in coastal rivers and mangrove lagoons.


First choice: Florida
Second choice: Georgia

In Florida, resident silver kings turn their attention to mullet, ladyfish and other large forage. Look for some patrolling sandbar edges, deeper mangrove shorelines, river mouths, inlets and passes. In Georgia, tarpon season is in full swing. Live-baiting major bays and the mouths of rivers and creeks flowing from the marshes is the best bet.


First choice: Florida
Second choice: Belize

Biscayne Bay, south of Miami, and the Gulf and oceanside flats in the lower Keys offer excellent permit fishing this time of year, and the best action occurs during the stronger tides, which the fish know to carry more crabs and shrimp. Permit also abound throughout Belize, with Turneffe Islands and the shoals of Permit Alley top options.

Red Drum

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

In Louisiana, spawning-size reds gather in large schools and head for open water. Locate concentrations of pogies in major bays and outer shoals, and bull redfish won’t be far behind. Florida’s mature reds follow a similar pattern, so look for big schools of 10- to 20-pounders on the outskirts of grass flats, in 5 to 8 feet of water.

Striped Bass

First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

The last reliable period to catch trophy stripers in the Northeast is now. Soon the fish will make their way to their wintering grounds, but first they’ll look to fatten up in the coastal waters of Massachusetts and New York. All the popular bass hot spots should produce, but pay special attention to rips, inlets and beaches where baitfish congregate.


First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

This time of year, night fishing is the way to go for broadbills in South Florida, where veterans of the game use floating lights to draw squid and other common forage near the boat and bring swords up from the depths. On Mexico’s west coast, game boats still encounter some swordfish finning on the surface, and pitching baits to them is the preferred tactic.

King Mackerel

First choice: Texas
Second choice: Louisiana

Gulf of Mexico waters from the coast of the Lone Star State through southeast Louisiana offer the most reliable kingfish bites this time of year. Look for fish feeding around the mouths of major passes, oil and gas platforms in less than 250 feet, and behind shrimp boats, either at anchor or trawling.


First choice: Massachusetts
Second choice: New York

As long as baitfish congregate in Massachusetts and New York coastal waters, hungry blues will continue to wreak havoc. Known bluefish hangouts like Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Montauk and Long Island beaches remain productive until waters begin to cool down and the bait schools thin in the Northeast.


First choice: Panama
Second choice: North Carolina

In Panama, expect to find dorado traveling outside the Gulf of Panama, as well as in Humboldt and Parita bays, where it’s a great time to tangle with a 50-pounder. Off North Carolina, dolphin seek food and shade under flotsam in the Gulf Stream. Remember, big bulls and cows often lurk 20 to 50 feet below, so keep a jig handy.