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How To Catch More Albies - Tips and Techniques For False Albacore - Use Your Binoculars

Here's a short and simple suggestion; use your binoculars when searching for false albacore. When we're covering some ground and burning some fuel, searching for signs of albie activity, it is amazing what we miss with the naked eye. Every time you stop to scan the water, and I encourage you to stop frequently, grab your binoculars and extend your vision. I'm amazed at how often we find a clue, maybe the first bread crumb, at a distance just beyond our sight limit. Those two terns diving can be tough to see, but may be the key to finding the next pod of fish or school of anchovies. If you've had the experience of scanning the horizon, looking, looking, seeing nothing and then once you use your binoculars, you spot 100 gulls diving on bait, you know what I mean.

The key to using your binoculars is keeping them handy. You need a spot where they are secure and protected but readily available. If they are buried in a tote bag in the bottom of the center console or stuffed in the bottom of a locker, you aren't going to dig them out each time you stop. When the boat is rocking, I make a triangle with my index fingers and thumbs and brace the tips of my fingers against my forehead to steady the binoculars. You can also employ tension on the strap to aid in stability.

I like to run the boat at a moderate speed when actively searching for these fish. I find I notice more when we're cruising at 3300 rpm vs. screaming to the next spot. Pause in likely places, areas where you've found fish in the past, water with good movement, and scan the horizon, first unaided and then with your binoculars. You may be astounded at what you'd been missing.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


How To Catch More Albies - Fishing Structure & Educated Blind Casting

Albie Head ShotMost of the time when we're chasing albies we're looking for fish showing themselves on the surface. The search pattern we have in our brain involves seeing signs of bait spraying, birds diving, and that distinct tunoid slashing across the surface of the water. It's easy to fall into the mindset that the fish are always just eating in open water but if you spend time in one particular location and really pay attention to what the fish are doing you'll notice that they often cycle through an area in a general pattern. It's incredibly helpful when you can get a sense of that pattern. A lot of times the pattern involves the fish relating to structure, whether it be a bar that creates a subtle rip, a drop off, a junction of jetty and beach, a deeper edge with stronger current. Even a boulder field or a big rocky ledge will influence where the fish travel. Obviously the baitfish seek shelter around structure and we're all used to fishing structure for species like striped bass, but it's amazing to learn how frequently false albacore use structure in a similar way, not exactly the same, but similar. Make a note of where the fish show themselves adjacent to some type of structure. Even when you're not seeing signs of the fish on the surface it can be worth casting to that structure.

There was a spot in Woods Hole Harbor that produced quite a few fish for us last year, especially at times when there wasn't a lot of surface activity. It's a ledge adjacent to the channel with great current running past it and it borders a shallow shelf and rocky boulder field. We would occasionally see the albies blitz for an instant, spraying bait right up against that ledge. Obviously, if you can get your offering into the water while the fish are coming up, you've got a great chance of hooking up but we were successful basically blind casting into this spot. We would only see the albies every fifteen minutes but they were hanging right in the eddy line down-current from the ledge. We'd hold the boat bow into the current and cast perpendicular to the moving water just upstream of the ledge and let our fly or soft plastic get swept back into the zone and BAM!

There were about four other similar spots in Woods Hole that we really started to understand last fall. We were applying techniques familiar to us from fishing stripers in heavy current around rocky structure. It was fascinating and tremendously satisfying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Lackey's Bay at the north end of Naushon Island seemed to always have a school of albies in it for three weeks last September. While we didn't always catch up, we would usually land a couple of fish. Often a couple of fish would break the surface for an instant. A number of times we were spotting fish underwater on clear sunny bright days, never seeing them feed on the surface. They were working around a large ledge and a boulder field on the outer edge of the bay anywhere from 6 to 15 feet of water. We would start our drift at the ledge and blind cast as the tide moved us over the boulder field. We'd often hook a fish every drift while other anglers chasing the sporadic surface signs caught only frustration.

Some of the structure isn't quite so obvious. It's demarcated by current lines, seams, and eddies. Fishing where the fast water meets the slow water can be really productive for false albacore at times when searching for surface feeds isn't paying off. If you've seen the fish come up in a particular area and you're drifting, waiting, watching, pay attention to where the water is moving. These fish love fast moving water and strong current.

Waquoit BuoyIn 2013 one of the pieces of structure that produced for us pretty consistently for about five or six days and then intermittently for the next week or two was actually the bell off the entrance to Waquoit Bay. When the tide is running hard that's a popular spot to fish, as the water pours out of the bay bringing bait with it. There are a lot of places where the fish will show up, anywhere from right against the jetties, to the fastest moving water, to what is essentially a back eddy either side of the fastest current, to some of the bars that are just to the east of the jetties. For a stretch of time we would drift by the bell, casting as close to it as we could get without getting fouled and find fish. Sometimes they were just up-current of the bell but most frequently we'd connect in the eddy just down-current of the bell. We'd make our cast slightly up-current and try to have it swing right into the eddy lines created by the buoy. The bay anchovies were using the buoy as shelter and the albies were onto them. Of course the last two years we went 0-for in that patch of water immediately down-current of that buoy, but that's albie fishing. Thankfully, that lesson paid dividends beyond 2013, as we found other pods of false albacore relating to buoys and the eddies they create.

 


How To Catch More Albies - Tips and Techniques For False Albacore Fishing

Early morning fish off Falmouth Cape Cod
Albies eat best at this time of day

For quite a few years now I've been intending to share lessons learned from chasing False Albacore around Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, and Buzzards Bay. I catalog albie catching thoughts in my mind and mentally file epiphanies for future blog posts and then...the alarm rings at 3:00 AM and I'm making colossal egg sandwiches and loading ice onto he boat and before I know it I'm running in past the jetties at Waquoit Bay admiring the post sunset glow on the horizon and thinking about rerigging leaders, how many packs of Owner 5132 Twist-Lock hooks I need to restock in the tackle bag, rustling up something for our supper, a beer, and then bed. I try to eek out every opportunity I can to chase these amazing fish in September and October and then all of a sudden the frenzy of the approaching ski season takes over, and my thoughts on how to catch more albies get stashed away until the next August. The forecast for the next five days is not conducive to the routine above, so here goes...

How To Catch More Albies -- Fish At First Light

First albie of the day
First albie of the day

After four months of setting the alarm for 2:30 AM for striper charters it is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that albies only feed during daylight, so we don't need to be out there until after the sun is up. And to reinforce that specious logic, we all find epic feeds at 9:30 in the morning and even 2:00 in the afternoon, but day in and day out the time when these fish will be least selective and most aggressive is just after first light. It's not always true, as timing of the tide and water movement play heavily in albie behavior, but, if you pick the right spot to start your day, 12 minutes after sunrise you can can be on fish that are fighting each other to eat whatever you're throwing.

 

Early albie run - get fishing before sunrise
Running the boat along the south side of the Cape

If you are going to take the morning to fish I highly recommend that you be out "on station", where you want to fish, before sunrise. There's no better feeling than getting out there with everything rigged and ready, making a couple of test casts with each rod, sipping your coffee, eating your egg sandwich, sharing the spot with maybe one other boat, waiting and watching. Most mornings the wind is down, nobody is motoring through pods of fish, the ocean is yours. We have developed an informal contest of guessing how many minutes after sunrise we spot the first fish, with the prize usually something special in the cooler, like the last remaining half of the Maria's roast beef sub.

 

 

 

Ready for the albies
Ready for the albies

More often than not, the first signs of fish are not quarter acre blitzes, but single splashes or small pods busting bait for brief periods of time however, these fish want to eat. They are usually not fussy. A well placed cast gets rewarded and a lot of times a not so well placed cast turns out to be right in front of albies that weren't showing themselves on the surface.

 

 

 

Sunrise false albacore
Get fishing early for albies

So re-rig leaders, restock fly boxes, and change out hooks (more on that to come) the night before. Have the coffee maker loaded and set the alarm. Check the running lights on the boat and have your headlamp and wool hat draped over your to-go mug. Leave the dock or the ramp in the dark. Enjoy the spectacular run to your selected spot as the horizon brightens and start you trip feeling like your are ahead of the fish instead of chasing behind them.

 

 

 

Catch more albiesPeter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

 


Low Water Upcountry Makes for Clear Water Downriver

Skinny water bassBy focusing on shallow water in and around the lower Kennebec, we were able to avoid any kind of a summer slow down in our striper fishing. No dog days here, just lot's of solid outings with good water visibility on the sand and mud flats and along the beaches. While the low levels of water coming down the river have given us great fish sighting condition, the limited fog and rare drizzly day have cut down on the visible surface activity that we expect in late August. There have been days when the weather, tide and bait supply all align and the bass are going bananas, but usually conditions dictate stalking fish in the skinny water, which is more than ok with me.

On three charters this month that stand out in my memory we experienced an overnight weather shift from a hot, humid, southwest flow to a much cooler, drier pattern with a breeze out of the north or northwest. The change in the fish behavior was dramatic and unmistakable. Flats that were filled with waking and slurping striped bass the morning prior were much quieter, with fish revealing themselves only briefly. The noseeums were almost non-existent at dawn. Strikes were often halfhearted or a single tail slap or chase-chase-chase-ok-nevermind. Our best results on those days came late morning, when the sun was high enough to be able to spot the fish and cast to individual bass or small pods of stripers up on the flats.

If you've never chased striped bass in clear, shallow water, you owe it to yourself to experience this side of the fishery. It is demanding at times but oh so rewarding.

We are seeing more young of the year alewives dropping down river on their way to the ocean, and a strong outgoing tide can produce some good surface feeds when the bait and bass intersect. On one of those challenging weather morning, we tracked down a dispersed group of stripers on a flat that had decent current washing across it at the end of the out tide. The north wind had robbed us of much of our visibility into the water but the bass were popping these little alewives as they were swept across the flat. It was a fun way to finish the trip as the stripers put all fear aside and demolished anything that we threw near them.

I've been getting good reports from other guides about the fishing along the beaches from Popham to Small Point, which is in keeping with trends of past years. Our nights have been noticeably cooler recently and it is clear that we have one foot in summer and one in fall here in Maine. This is a fabulous time to fish and with the clock ticking on the season, there's no time to put off a trip. Get out.

I'm furiously rerigging lines, restocking fly boxes, reordering jigs, as I prepare to head to the Cape for albie season. I have the fever...in a bad way.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC.