Where sight-casting false albacore is a case of “Now you seem ’em...”
Will they show? That’s the main question when August rolls around, and rumors of false albacore (little tunny) start to percolate on the docks and online fishing forums from Cape Cod to Montauk.
While some years they never show, the short window for these Northeast scrappers is late August through mid-October, with September being square in the wheelhouse of prime time.
Albies typically follow on the heels of bonito and Spanish mackerel, both of which tend to clear out once the albies move in. For the first week or so following their arrival, the albies feed with abandon, allowing more shots at surface-feeding schools. Anglers who are ready to drop everything and get on the water quickly will reap the rewards.
Once the fish settle into an area, they usually become harder to catch, especially in calm, stable weather. Many times they break into smaller pods, coming to the surface to feed for just a few seconds before disappearing.
What makes the fish so selective is a matter of debate, or rather “de bait.” Last season along much of the coast, tiny bay anchovies (aka “rain bait”) and even anchovy larvae were the primary feed, and the albies were so keyed on this tiny prey that they rejected most standard lures, including metal spoons, flies and jigs.
But in general, I throw almost exclusively small, unweighted soft plastics at albies. My favorites are 4-inch Zoom Flukes, FinSFish, and SlugGos in pearl and pink.
The most effective way to fish these lures is to cast them into the middle of the feeding school, and twitch them gently across the surface so the tail wiggles and flips. You don’t need to rip the bait across the surface, but the retrieve speed should be somewhat faster than what you’d use for bass. — Tom Richardson
Location: New England
Prime Time: September
Tackle: A 7½-foot spinning rod with a limber tip, matched to a midsize reel with at least 200 yards of 10- to 12-pound mono. Use a wind-on leader system. My favorite setup is a Spider Hitch or Bimini in the main line, tied to three feet of 20-pound-test fluorocarbon with a Bristol (No-Name) knot.
Capt. Terry Nugent
Capt. Jaime Boyle
Capt. Ryan Sanscoucie
Hush Fly Fishing
About the Author: Tom Richardson is the publisher and editor of BoatingLocal.com, a Northeast online boating and fishing magazine.
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