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Old 02-13-2002, 12:09 PM
Tuna Tuna is offline
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Why I love false albacore

A few recent posts had me thinking, why, during the fall, do I focus so much on catching false albacore? Thought I might beat the shack nasties by writing some of it out.

VISUALS

What I see while I fish has always been a major part of what draws me back. I've always loved the look of water, of the sea in particular, and the various forms of fishing that have hooked me (like flats fishing for bonefish and permit when I started fly on the salt, and flats fishing for stripers in the spring these days [despite knowing I could catch many more fishing low light and sinking lines]) have all had a strong visual element.

False albacore are an incredibly beautiful fish. The green color (which almost shines when seen through the water), the squiggly pattern, the "tuna" like look, the mackerel elements - yup, there may be a few fish that look better, but false albacore are smokin!! (no, that's not a recipe);

The way they move - they can slide slowly through the water, almost hover with fins out wide, the slow porpoise move they can make, the explosive speed and, ah, the killer feed mode, ripping through the water, spray shot up feet, now and then the clear the surface jump - these are visuals I burn into my brain each fall, to replay during winter lunch breaks like this.

On a sunny day, with clear water, I just love to see those green torpedoes zip by and under my boat.

FIGHT

Albies give a good first run, and a killer persnickity reluctance to be boated at the end of the fight, for their size.

CHALLENGE

Albies can be quite confounding to hook. Yea, there are those gimme days when anything you throw may hook one. But unless you are in one of the killer feeds, you can spend a fair amount of time to get one to take a fly. Small fly, large fly, slow retrieve, fast retrieve - stay alert, what worked 10 minutes ago may not work now, as the prey has changed, or its Tuesday and a full moon.

POSITION RELATIVE TO THE BASS

The bass feeds around the point in the fall can be incredible. However, they are also often right at the feet of the surf casters, and a fair amount of boats will target them directly. The albies, however, are often right outside the bass. No need to jockey with the other boats for a shot at the bass, no need to **** off the surf casters who lack the mobility of boat bound fishermen. Just stay outside the bass, and catch albies instead.

SHOCK

Line hung at the side of the boat, lighting a cigarette - BOOM, albie on!!!! I can remember many situations where, out of the blue, and with the speed of light, an albie is on, off and running.

Even better, I've had the chance to see a number of people hook their first albie - love that look of shock when someone gets their first long run.

SPIN FISHERMEN FRIENDLY

I find it very easy to catch them on spinning. I have a number of friends who either don't fly fish, or fly fish but can't in big winds or just feel better with a spinning rod. Sure love to be able to get these folks onto these wonderful fish.

THE FALL

A weird reason to like a fish, but there is something magical about the fall in Long Island. The rapid changes in weather (including some wild surf which, if not wild enough to disperse bait or discolor the water, is a great time to catch albies), the crystal clear dry air on the North and Northwest wind days, the butterflies that Kaminsky wrote about. I love albies partially because I fish for them in the fall, a wonderful time to be on the water.

There are some other reasons, but the ones above are the key for me. Hmm, is it September yet?
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  #2  
Old 02-13-2002, 05:00 PM
JKelly JKelly is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

My favorite way is to catch them from shore. There is no comparision like hooking one up from the beach or breakwall.
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Old 02-14-2002, 08:39 AM
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venture venture is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

Peter,
I love your passion for the Albie. I once had the same passion, especially when fishing them from the beach before I got my first boat. The post from Jkelly reminded me of my younger days on the Vineyard fishing around the Menemsha Jetties in the early 70s and hitting them hard before it was a fashion. It was so exotic, and the fish fought hard, fast and very strong. Perhaps for me, beach fishing for most game fish has an allure that is lacking in boats. We used to hit some big bass back in those days from the beach on fly.

But when I started boating, the inshore stuff got pretty redundant. Don't get me wrong, for me, it's a nice past-time, but perhaps it never held the mystery that the beach did. Wading was about reading the surf, or fighting a fish on a horizontal plain, or maybe it's having your feet planted on the beach and fighting something that's way out into what seems an abyss. Don't know, but as soon as the boating started, things got too easy or to predictable, and many times too redundant. That's me, and that doesn't mean I discount your passion at all. In fact I respect your passion and find it extremely inspirational.

What I crave for now is heart palpitating challenge. In the salt, mystery, fighting my fears, the unexpected, and the challenge of learning something new is what gets me going. The offshore grounds currently contain these ingredients for me. I'm still on a big learning curve when it comes to the pelagics. I do hope to take you out the Venture this year.

Offshore, the mahi are pretty easy, and many days you can hit dozens of them with the fly. But that doesn't do it for me for the obvious reasons. They sometimes save the day for my guests, which revel at their strength, jumps and beauty. But the yellowfin or the bluefin is the deal off Montauk, and many anglers, once introduced to them, can't think of anything else.

They're not easy. Sometimes you go all day without seeing one, and you wind up at the pots hitting casting to mahi, which by the way, are extremely visable even before hooked. But sometimes the mahi fishing feels like fishing in a trout hatchery, which lacks the mystery that I thrive on. But, when your at the right spot, and you've done your homework which in the main, involves water temps, your in for some big action with big tuna. They are so strong that it is a struggle to land some of them. It will take all the strenght and endurance you can muster. Take an albie and multiply it by 10 or 20 and you've got the it.

I remember fights that involved the last half of the line for an hour, never getting back to the first half. You'd be down to the spool, then back to 50%, then off again down to the spool. Then you'll loose him after what seems like an hour. And when they stop, they stop. You cannot move them.

If your lucky enough, which happens a few times during the season, you can get them worked up around the boat and cast a fly. Sometimes they will refuse the fly often. You see him coming, big and beautiful, your heart is in your mouth, he's huge, and then he'll purposely miss it. But with persistance, you'll raise one that doesn't stop. He'll take it like a freight train, throwing water everywhere. The first run is hundreds of yards, and if your lucky he'll stop.

And man are they beautiful, with the shape and muscle tone that is common to all tunas but his colors are something to behold. His irredecent blues, tarnished yellow stripe, and his brilliantly yellow tipped fins and tail looks like a spray painted cigerette boat.

Boating them is also a challenge. He'll dive straight down hundreds of feet and keep you there for what seems like hours. It is a true challenge to land him. Nothing is predictable. Anything can happen. Just because you're hooked up doesn't mean he's in the boat. Quite the contrary. You're chances are still low, and that's not because he spits the hook. More often he'll strip you, or he'll take you around the props at the end of the fight, or maybe, during the hour long battle, he'll attract a mako and you'll be left with nothing but a big red explosion.

I'm not competing with your passion Peter, rather I am inspired by it, and have enjoyed writing this post. Thanks for the inspiration Peter. And please, keep it burning, because it would be my pleasure to take such a passionate soul as yourself to the offshore grounds this year. And how many times have you had the pleasure of sharing your passion with your friends. It would be my pleasure to turn the tables around for you and share my passion with you. Howie

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Old 02-14-2002, 11:40 AM
Tuna Tuna is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

I read with interest the Jkelly response and your reference to it - if false albacore appeal to me partially because of challenge, catching them from the beach just multiplies the challenge. The posts and magazine articles I've read about catching them from the beach at Martha's Vineyard have always made me wonder what it would be like to get one from shore. Even more, the posts I've read about getting the holdovers at the Millstone (?) plant - seems like it gets pretty crowded, so just getting a spot to cast from may be a challenge, and rocks being a barrier to the final act of landing. Getting them from a boat is a challenge, but I sense it would be so much more of a rush from shore.

I mentioned they are not necessarily the most beautiful fish based soley on the single mahi I got. There I am, seeing small pods of albies here and there, when the corner of my eye saw real big green, but a different hue than an albie. Focus revealed several mahi, lazily cutting through bait on the surface, apparently (I've heard this is possible) actually changing colors as I saw them. Second cast was right behind one and I saw it turn and, as I stopped the fly, could actually see the mahi slurp the fly in. And then there were the jumps. Can't get much more visual than that, but then again since I fish near shore, its not something I could make a steady diet of (saw those 2 mahi in some 300 full days fishing Montauk fall shore line over the years).

My post was really me thinking about opting out on your offer last fall to go offshore. My brother Jim has been out there, and gave me some of the same sense of the mystery, the expanse, and the thrill of a really big fish compared to what I have learned so far. So how could I have passed on the opportunity? ... my existing fall obsession was calling me, telling me I didn't land enough false albacore in 2000. But I wanted to dig a layer lower, as I did some minor experimentation last season, so why not this one? Certified (false) albie nut. (Plus writing about it was great shack nasty negation);

Yea, can't wait for you to turn the tables this year on the Venture. I've got a few new experiences planned (also plan to fish New England with Dave Corbett in the spring), and getting out on your boat is top of the list.
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Old 02-14-2002, 12:19 PM
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venture venture is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

Great Peter. Can't wait for you to join me. Hopefully Josh and his dad will be able to come as well. And you will love the mahi, even though I down play it a bit. Sometimes there's a big bull mixed in, and getting him on the fly before the rats hit you is a real challenge and sometimes extremely frustrating. Those big bulls are like big weary trout, while the rats will mug you in a flash.

Anyway, keep up the great posts. Love reading them. Howie
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Old 02-14-2002, 02:02 PM
JKelly JKelly is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

Tuna,
I grew up where Millstone is and catching fish from shore there is alright. What I mean is when I fished there 2 seasons ago (2001), when you could (pre-9/11), they would stack up like cordwood. I mean you could not count how many were in front of you, as in 3ft. in front of you. I caught landed 15 fish on 11/15/01 in roughly 2 hrs. of fishing. The problem is it gets crowded and most are very rude, I fish there when it was the only game in town. I have a friend, who while sight fishing in the surf for stripers, regulary hooks up with albies cruising outside the surf-line feeding on baitfish. I love to prowl the breakwalls of R.I and have a handful of spots in SE CT. that produce regularly. If you or Venture ever want to come to this side of the Sound to fish, I'd love to show you some spots. Some spots are popular and others most probably wouldn't think of to fish from for albies. Personally, I would rather catch 1 from shore then 10 from a boat. Contact me when the bite is on and we'll go. I am usually on the New England board and there are a ton of cool guys who fish strictly from shore in the afore mentioned spots (West Wall, Quonny, Weekapaug, Charlestown Breachway, Narragansett, Newton Ave, Ocean Beach, Pleasure Beach....etc....).
My other addiction is steelhead......but I'll refrain here or I'll start shaking, run to my truck and drive the 5 hours to the Salmon River.
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Old 02-14-2002, 02:54 PM
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venture venture is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

I would love to hear about the steelheading you do. I have been an atlantic salmon fisher for many many years although the last time I went was back in '95. Fished in Russia on the rugged north coast rivers: the Kharlofka, Eastern Litza, Pana, and Varzuga. Spent three seasons there. Biggest fish was 43 pounds, with average fish being 16 pounds. Iceland's famed Midfiodrera, and Quebec's Matane and Matepedia rivers. Except for Iceland, the fish take drys as well as wets on all the rivers. Love the rivers, love the fish, and know that steelheading is similar to altantics although usually a bit smaller and don't take drys. So you do have a listener on the steelhead front. Howie
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Old 02-14-2002, 03:48 PM
JKelly JKelly is offline
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RE: Why I love false albacore

Man, you have done some fishing. Salmon River in Pulaski. A bit crowded but if you go during the week it is O.K. I am trying to get up there the first week of March. I'll keep you posted.
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