As of late, the tuna fishing off Cape Cod has been fair at best for the run-and-gun crowd. The tuna are around, but they seem more focused on the offerings of the troll and bait guys, and less interested in hanging out on top for those of us who like casting to them.
The good news is that we are currently enjoying the best false albacore run in memory. Albies are like 8- to 14-pound bluefins, and we chase them the same way as we do larger tuna, but with lighter gear. In the past week all of my charters have opted to go the albie route, and they are loving it!
The albie fishing is like “Tuna Lite.” It’s everything that topwater tuna fishing is, but scaled down in size, scope (and price). For a typical albie trip we start off at a gentlemanly 7:00 a.m. and head out looking for birds, bait and busting fish. The runs to the grounds is a fraction of what it is to reach the tuna. You have to finish your coffee quickly, because within 10 to 15 minutes you’ll be seeing big numbers of crashing and slashing fish.
Once the mini tunoids are located, the game is the same as for the larger tuna. We try to find the “right” pod of fish, set up on them and get casts into them. Just because the albies are smaller doesn’t make them any easier to set up on. These fish are up and down so fast it will make your head spin. But the sheer number of fish in the area really cranks the odds up on your favor. Once we get the boat on the fish, it takes very fast and accurate casts to get your offering to the albies, and even then they can be super picky. This is not a sure thing when you land your cast in the fish, but you’ll get plenty of shots.
When it all goes right, you are rewarded with a 100-yard screaming run that will have you thinking you hooked a fish 5 times the size of what’s really on the end of your line. These little tunoids will test out the best light tackle in a way no other fish can do. This week we had 2 of my customers’ reels succumb to these fierce fighters.
Our typical albie setup has been: A Shimano Saragossa 6000 spinning reel on a St. Croix 8- to 17-pound Tidemaster 7′ rod with 30-pound Suffix 832 braid and a 3′ leader of 12-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon. The gear is rigged the same as for tuna, but again, everything is a bit smaller.
The tradeoff in fish size has been made up for by the daily number of albies we are landing. On a tuna trip we hope to land a fish one day, maybe even 2. If you get more than 2 bluefin in a day, you are blessed. This season, the number of albies landed is around 3 fish per hour of fishing! That doesn’t count the 4 to 5 fish per hour that have crashed the lures, pulled hooks or broken off. To say the action has been fast and furious is an understatement.
Over this past week many of my anglers who had never even seen an albie have become very proficient at spotting, targeting, hooking and landing them. I’ve had a dozen of my sports catch their first ever albie this week and the reaction is always the same. They can’t believe that a 10-pound fish can fight so hard and run so fast. Even the anglers that were really wanting to land a tuna agreed that opting out of the tuna trip and taking advantage of this year’s albie bite was the best choice they could have made regarding their charter. Several customers even requested the change after hearing all the rave reports online.
Since the run to the fishing has been so short, I’ve been able to squeeze in several early and late half-day trips and even a couple 2-hour fun trips for the Capt. and crew. It has been a welcome fishery for everyone. There is nothing like super steady action on strong, laser fast fish to keep your customers happy and exhausted.
In the past few days on the flat calm water we have seen more monster bait balls than we did when this albie bite started. That bodes well for this bite lasting well into October, as long as Mother Nature co-operates.