Fishing Charters For Striped Bass in Phippsburg, Maine And False Albacore on Cape Cod, MA

Saltwater Fly Fishing Charters For Striped Bass And False Albacore ~ Kennebec River, Phippsburg, ME And Cape Cod, MA

Thanks for visiting Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports. Here you'll find updates on shallow water striper fishing around Maine and beyond, updates on September and October false albacore fishing around Cape Cod and the Islands, insights into how I chase these fish, suggestions and techniques that may help you become a better angler, and recaps of recent charter trips. Scroll down for the the latest posts.

I specialize in shallow water sight casting to striped bass and chasing false albacore with fly and light tackle spinning gear. The only thing I love more than the challenge of hunting for these fish is sharing the elation that comes from playing this game. I guide a lot of experienced striped bass anglers who've never cast a fly or a top-water plug to a striper on a shallow flat that is pushing water like a redfish or bonefish. Watching the bass track the baitfish pattern or tail slap the spook and then (hopefully) eat your offering is incredibly satisfying and addicting.

I live in Phippsburg, ME on the banks of the Kennebec River, and guide full-time from May into November. Striper fishing in Maine starts in mid-May, with fish usually showing up just south of Portland before they start to fill into the Kennebec. To get a jump on the season I head south to Massachusetts to get onto bass before they arrive in Maine. I also plan a couple of weeks during May and June to target large stripers in Cape Cod Bay and around Martha's Vineyard. This is big water fishing and where I grew up and first started running charter boats. If I had to pick one week to fish the flats in midcoast Maine, it would fall in early July, depending upon the tides. Fortunately, our fishing holds up all summer and every year we have outstanding days when anglers to our south are lamenting the "dog days". By Labor Day I'm packing up to spend September and October fishing the south side of Cape Cod for False Albacore. 

If you're looking to improve your striper skills, or want to try to target them on the flats, or just become a better angler, I hope you'll read on and if you like what you find here, give me a call. Let's get out on the water together this season.

You can also see more frequent updates on Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports Facebook Page.

See the fish. Cast to the fish. Catch the fish.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


How To Catch More Albies - Tips and Techniques For False Albacore Fishing - Wind Against The Tide

Catching more albies is always on my mind, even on a cross county flight in the middle of the winter. If you fish for false albacore, you know what I mean. I'm cleaning up my laptop somewhere over Nebraska and came across this photo from one of the last days chasing false albacore around Cape Cod this past October. I got to spend some time up on the bow of the boat to close out the season when my wife Sarah was down in Falmouth for the final week of my stay on the Cape. We try to plan a week on the water ourselves after my last charter of the year and mix in trips to Edgartown for coffee or Cuttyhunk for oysters with some fishing time.

Fly casting for false albacore in rough water off Cape Cod

In this image it looks pretty calm but the wind was honking out of the southwest and the tide was dumping out of Waquoit Bay into Vineyard Sound. The albies were exploding out of the water, fighting each other to inhale the bait that was being sucked out by the ebbing current. It was rough enough where the fish were happiest that Sarah would work to hold the boat right in the seam of the strongest flow, on the edge of the largest waves, but close enough so that I could zing the Rio InTouch Striper 30ft Sink Tip line into the action zone. This wasn't graceful, River Runs Through It, fly casting. The wind was pushing the boat at a good clip and as soon as the line would land on the surface of the water it would rip in the opposite direction of our travel. Line management was key and an immediate start to a two-handed retrieve was critical to staying tight to the fly and detecting the hit from the marauding albies. All hell would break loose (that's not an exaggeration) when the fish would eat, which of course often occurred with the fly twenty feet from the boat and eighty feet of fly line swirling in the wind just above the deck. (Here's a good primer on clearing the fly line when a fast moving fish eats your fly.)

Dealing with the bobbing and rolling foredeck, the potential line snags, the sometimes ugly casts, was all worthwhile as these fish ate with abandon when I could get the fly in their path. That week after Columbus Day we had a lot of windy afternoons and day after day when the afternoon breeze would buck the dumping tide the fish were right in that rough water. The few boats coming in or out of Waquoit Bay would fight through the waves, concentrating on the seas but missing the fish, and then start their search for false albacore once they cleared the area where the wind met the strongest tide. I've seen it time and again, in that location and others. Next fall, remember that albies love choppy water and strong current. They won't always be zooming through the standing waves, but you'll catch more false albacore if you seek out these situations and take the time to watch the roughest water. And if your wife is happiest running the boat and spotting fish in these conditions, consider yourself very, very fortunate.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 

Quick Cape Cod Albie Fishing Update Report

Here’s a albie charter report for the week. I'll try to add more details between fishing trips. You can also check my facebook page for brief updates on current albie fishing.
 
I went to bed last night thinking “Oh no, what if we are in the late innings of the albie season”? The last couple days on Cape Cod have been less than stellar but a nice southwest flow today really seemed to turn on some of the false albacore we found. It had been three days since we were in sustained churning feeds. After working rocky structure, slow cruising small pods, and covering a lot of miles it was a welcome change. We did ok grinding out infield singles. It was nice to hit some long balls today.
 
Overall, pink, albie crack, and olive SI Epoxy Jigs have been top producers on spin gear along with the amber and white Albie Snaxs. Productive fly patterns have been tan or tan and white bay anchovy patterns, even when the fish off Naushon were puking up silversides. The albies in Vineyard Haven harbor have seemed to be focused on bay anchovies, even when feeding around clouds of peanut bunker. 
 
We’ve found fish just breaking the surface from Point Gammon to Tarpaulin Cove, mostly in the morning. Sometimes they’ve allowed us to idle parallel to them and take quartering shots, but other times they just don’t stay up long enough to get aligned or to work up wind or up current of them and wait them out. Best fishing has been around the north side of the Vineyard, with specific locations varying every day. 
 
Forecast for the holiday weekend isn’t bad, with Sunday looking like the fishiest day. Despite what you might be hearing, don’t give up on the albies just yet.
 
Oh, and I almost forgot...on Tuesday mid-day, Craig Ucker caught this guy on a tan and white bay anchovy epoxy fly shortly after landing his first albie on the same pattern. Very cool.
 
Cape Cod Albie Fishing Bonito
Catching more than just false albacore here on the Cape
Fish more,
 
Peter
 
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
207-522-9900
pfallon@mainestripers.com

Who Said Albies Don't Eat In A Northeast Wind? More Lessons From A Fall of False Albacore Fishing on Cape Cod.

We finally found some consistency fishing along the Falmouth shoreline this past week. The fishing isn’t better when the albies are in here, but it sure is convenient being based out of Falmouth. More significantly, the first great day of albie fishing I ever experienced was right off the entrance to Waquoit and the only false albacore over 13 pounds I have personally landed was in the same place years later. Add a ton of fabulous other memories, both personal and with fishing charter clients made between New Seabury and Woods Hole, and the sentimental value of finding the fish in here is pretty fulfilling.  
False albacore eats another Albie Snax Lure
Amber Albie Snax
 On Friday we arrived off Craigville Beach before dawn, fully expecting to be disappointed but looking for the first bread crumb that would lead us either east or west from there. It wasn’t long before we pushed away from the gathering albie fleet to fish on the Cotuit flats and Osterville channel. With the forecast for strengthening wind, we continued west finding them off Great Pond and Green Pond and hit the jackpot at Waquoit. It was fabulous fishing and it went on for hours. The white Albie Snax was getting eaten but not as well as it should have been. A quick change to amber and the fish were all over it. By mid afternoon they seemed to get fussy again. We changed to bright pink and wham! First cast and many cast thereafter had fish fighting to get to the bait. I heard from guides who were fishing the Vineyard, Upper Buzzards Bay, and even Rhode Island that they killed it on Friday. Some days these fish make heroes of us all and this was one of those days. 
Another Cape Cod False Albacore
The switch to bright pink Albie Snax pays off again
 The Vineyard Sound forecast for Saturday morning was pretty miserable and we made the mistake of not getting out until 8:00 am. It was pretty cushy in the Southport 272 and the fish were happy and I spent the first two hours swearing at myself for not going at dawn. I always advocate for an early start. Still get’s me pissed thinking about it now. The wind and the forecast kept a lot of people home and it felt more like a weekday out there. We started catching on Nonamesset Shoal where the albies were pinning bay anchovies up against the shoreline. My aggravation with myself (see above) got the best of me and I kept moving us around to busting fish when I should have kept the boat in one place. Settling down by mid-morning we really got in the groove in the fast current off Mink Point at the entrance to Woods Hole. There we no blow ups to attract attention of other boats that motored by, but on the edge of the shallow water the albies were showing one by one and eating with abandon. They were on big bait, and bright colored Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs were easy to throw in the wind and very effective. By early afternoon we moved off Nobska and did well there too. It would have been nice to do without the three boats zooming at WOT into every busting pod they saw, but thankfully there were plenty of fish to go around. End of the day at Waquoit was ok, not better, but ok at 5:00 pm is alright.
False Albacore Big Bait
Big bait by albie standards
 The quote of the week came from Fritz Folts on Sunday. We were trying to run his Southport back to Boston but kept running into funny fish off Falmouth and then again around the Mashnee Flats and west end of the canal. Fritz was in the zone. He was seeing the fish as soon as they surfaced and putting his casts right where they needed to be, time after time. Fritz said “Next year I need to block off four full days in a row to fish. Chasing albies is a lot like high school - by the time you really figure it out it’s time for graduation”
Hogy SI Epoxy Jig Colors for False Albacore
Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs
 Monday was another day of battling stout northeast winds, but our perseverance paid dividends. We worked fish early along the Falmouth shore off Green Pond and Great Pond. Jeff was new to the false albacore challenge and quickly understood my pre-game pep talk on the importance of accurate casts. We continued on to Nobska where we were rocking and rolling, literally, but surrounded by happy fish and zero other boats. All the other charter captains I talked to had understandably pulled the plug on trips that day. As a guy who flies small commercial plans for a living, Jeff wasn't phased by a little turbulence.
 
Jeff is forever spoiled. His first ever albie topped nine pounds. We messed around at Lackeys, seeing albies but only catching blues. Wood Hole kept us entertained for a couple of hours until mid afternoon when the switch flipped (who did that?) and the schools of churning fish shut right off all at once.
Rough weather false albacore
Happy Jeff with his first false albacore
 After an hour of testing the east wind Tuesday morning, we decided to go out to breakfast. Wednesday seemed better suited to errands and chores but Thursday was worth the hassle. The wind was honking but the fish were hungry. It wasn't an easy day to chuck flies at these fish, but it was a productive day to do so. Whoever said albies don’t eat when the wind blows out of the northeast choose going out to breakfast instead of fishing too many times.
 
My last open dates for false albacore charters on the Cape are Monday, October 1 and Friday, October 5. If you want to see what all this albie fuss is about, give me a call or send me an email.
 
Fish more.
 
Peter
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
pfallon@mainestripers.com
207-522-9900

What Do Albie Fishing And High School Share In Common?

The quote of the week came from Fritz Folts on Sunday. After two days of finding fish after fish after fish we were trying to run his Southport back to Boston but kept running into albies off Falmouth and then again around the Mashnee Flats and west end of the canal. Fritz was in the zone. I mean he was dialed right in. He was seeing the fish as soon as they surfaced and putting his casts exactly where they needed to be, time after time. After Fritz landed yet another albie, he said “Next year I need to block off four full days in a row to fish. Chasing albies is a lot like high school - by the time you really figure it out it’s time for graduation”.

See the fish. Cast to the fish. Catch the fish.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

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Yet another Fritz Folts-caught fish

 

 

 


Cape Cod False Albacore Update - Today Isn't Yesterday And Tomorrow Won't Be Today

Here’s a recap of week 2 chasing albies around Cape Cod and the Islands:

The albie -lesson that stands out this week is that today isn’t yesterday and tomorrow won’t be today. I’ve been on the water every day this week, often for 10 to 12 hour trips, and no two days have been the same. The weather has varied, the places where we found fish varied, and the behavior of those fish varied. The rate of change with all things tied to these fish seems to correlate with their frenetic nature and tremendous energy. 
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The best classic albie fishing we encountered was on Friday. We cruised Waquoit to Cotuit at a good clip, only pausing briefly to look and glass the water. When we saw the size of the fleet at Craigville Beach, we kept going and promptly found packs of roving albies off of Hyannis moving courteously into the tide and staying up for for a pleasing length of time. It’s so much fun to set up and wait for the fish to come to you, to see them slash and swirl, and then to try to make “the” cast. This behavior continued throughout the tide and we landed a lot of fish on the 7/8 oz. Hogy SI Epoxy Jig in pink and the Albie Snax in white, pink, and amber. We were never forced to toss anything else at them. Early afternoon was tough for us. The pods weren’t showing as frequently and would quickly splash and sound. Later in the afternoon our perseverance was rewarded with fast moving fish between Great Pond and Waquoit. These guys weren’t so easy, but they were catchable.

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On Saturday we covered a lot of ground and heard reports of a lot of tough fishing. Finally around 10:00 we found good numbers of albies breaking the surface with a slow and subtle rise in the greasy calm water, totally unlike any feeding behavior we've seen so far this season (probably because wind has been our constant companion).We were right on the edge of a sharp drop off that held a lot of bait.This too was incredibly satisfying as the challenge involved boat maneuvering, accurate casts, and the right retrieve. After some experimenting, we struck gold with the hot pink Albie Snax fished with a twitch and pause retrieve, similar to what you’d use on a flat for stripers. They ate it well and we were all smiles, fortunate to have these fish to ourselves for the two hours that they were up  - almost unheard of on a Saturday in September. The most unusual catch of the day came when we paused over structure to jig up a couple of scup and sea bass as a mental break from the albie focus. I dropped my 1 1/8 oz. epoxy jig to the bottom to in a quick jigging demonstration and was tight to an albie as soon as I lifted the jig off the bottom. It’s not the first time we’ve jigged these fish, but it was the most surprising.

Sunday was slow but we had our chances. We took a chance on Nobska lighting up at first light. The wind had been blowing bait in that direction, there would be good water movement just after sunrise, and the fish had not been there in any significant numbers yet. We cruised and cast for an hour with nothing to show for our play. It sounds like we had the right idea but were off in our timing by a tide cycle. Almost every boat coming out of the Inner Harbor, Great Pond, and Green Pond blasted right up to the fleet of 30+ boats clusters off the Waquoit jetty, right past the small groups of fish working the outflows of the Falmouth Ponds and occasionally pinning bait right into the sand shoreline. We finished the morning on fast moving small groups in the shallows between Allen Harbor and Harwichport, but success only came blind casting in areas where we had found the fish the day prior.

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Monday was great in deeper water for fly caught albies, really a standout day. The fish weren't staying up for as long as we would have liked but they were there in huge numbers eating sand eels and were perfect fly rod targets. 250 to 350 sinking shooting head lines on 7, 8, and 9 weight rods worked perfectly and these albies were on average a couple of pounds heavier than what we had been catching elsewhere. 

Tuesday was strange. The fish turned on for 30 minutes and ate hard. The wind was building and the current picking up. It was rough and getting rougher, conditions that these fish usually relish…and… it just changed. Either the fish departed or they sounded and the show was mostly over just when we thought it would go on all morning. It surely wasn’t due to pressure as there weren’t many boats out in that building blow.

And then there was Wednesday. At 9:00 it was like someone threw a switch. Despite slack current, the fish that challenged us to catch 2 in two hours turned on and all of the boats were battling albies. As the fish pushed inshore and had the bait corralled, they became wicked, wicked, fussy. Nobody was catching. There was a lot of furious knot tying going on but the fish kept feeding, just ignoring all of the fake meals tossed their way. At times that type of classic albie behavior can be maddening, but it is also somehow incredibly appealing. It's like a difficult puzzle that has you up too late, as you refuse to give in and give up. We never really figured them out before we had to run for the dock. We had a couple of swings and misses, but no riddles solved.Of course we did run into a pack of chomping albies 5 minutes from the dock that ate with glee on the first cast. Typical albie fishing. We left huge numbers of fish that were giving us the finger and ran into a small group that ate everything tossed their way.

Being on the water every day does help in the search for these fish and in developing strategies for finding "happy fish" when the going gets tough. We use what we've found and learned and heard in previous outings but at least this week you couldn't do exactly what you did the day before and come home happy. If you heard you missed the good bite yesterday at Cotuit, you will often be better served by checking logical spots in the general vicinity verses expecting a repeat of the day before, especially in this all-over-the-place weather pattern. 

If this craziness sounds appealing to you and you have never experienced the rush of adrenaline that comes when casting to busting albies and feeling the energy of their fight, give me a call. I have a few open dates next week and the week after for charters here on Cape Cod. Before we know it, these fish will be gone until next year and we will be left with dreams of darting terns and perfect fly casts.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com

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How To Catch More Albies - Color Matters - Tips And Techniques For False Albacore Fishing

Fullsizeoutput_efIt's that time of year when I shift all of my attention to chasing false albacore off the south side of Cape Cod. I base myself in Falmouth but fish from Monomoy to Wasque to Cuttyhunk to the Canal and all of the waters in-between. More later about why these fish have such a hold on me and so many other anglers. I'll try to explain in a future post, although the best way to understand, to truly get it, is to come fish for them. For now let's focus on those of you who are already committed to catching albies.

Color matters, not all the time, but often enough that it should factor into your equation of what and how you are presenting your offering to false albacore. If you've found the fish (here's a post that can help you with that endeavor) and you're making the right casts but they aren't biting the way you think they should be, it's time to change up what you're tossing. In many instances a color change is all it takes. 

Pay attention to the other anglers around you. Is someone catching noticeably more fish? If so, the albies want to eat something other than what you have tied on. If you've found your own fish and aren't getting consistent hits, it's time to mix it up. I think about setting up for ducks. Pick a spot where the ducks want to land that morning and you'll have lots of action. Set your decoys in a location that really isn't where the birds want to be and you'll have some lookers and you'll talk a lonely single into lighting at the edge of your spread.
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IMG_1941One simple change is to alter the color of the Epoxy Jig, Albie Snax, metal, Ronz that you are using. I've seen so many instances where we went from one hit every thirty casts to one hit every five casts just by changing from white to pink, or from silver to purple. And in some of those cases have confirmed the color preference with other captains and anglers on the same fish.

While I've experienced the same result with color change in fly patterns it seems to be often much less important than when tossing artificial lures. Why? I don't know but the flies we use are often much closer imitations of the prey, and I think that has something to do with this observation. Don't ignore color when you put together your fly box or watch the false albacore zoom all around your fly without trying to eat it, but I think it's lower on the list that includes presentation, retrieve, pattern shape and size. 

When you're chucking hardware, be ready to tie a lot of knots, have plenty of leader material, rig rods with different lures, and remember to change up color if the albies aren't doing what you expect.

 

 

IMG_4633Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900


Shallow Water Stripers

Mornings with no wind and good tides have made for some great shallow water fishing charters for Kennebec River striped bass this week. It's nice to be back on the flats, although some mornings have been Florida-hot poling the boat until the breeze comes up. The stripers are eating a variety of bait. The best feeds have been when some current is sweeping young of the year alewives across the edge of the mud or sand flats, but we've also seen them actively chasing little tiny bait fish (no ID, but under 2 inches and somewhat slender) and of course they are still picking off crabs and shrimp. 

Maine shallow water striped bass
Maine striped bass fishing

The water has cleared up but upriver flats well above Popham and around Bath are still somewhat stained. It looks like the weather pattern changes for the long weekend and sighting conditions won't be as good but I would expect that there will be some active surface feeds wherever the stripers and juvie alewives intersect. There should be a fair amount of boat traffic during the day, so an early start will give you the best shot at undisturbed fish. 

I've been tying up a bunch of peanut bunker flies for false albacore season and have tested some on these striped bass. They are a good imitation of the little alewives that are dropping out of the lakes and ponds here in Maine on their way to the ocean. I've been having a lot of fun at the vise the last couple of weeks, using some new materials and furiously working to finish up false albacore and bonito flies. I fall asleep at night thinking about the pattern I'll tie when I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. 

Labor Day is often bittersweet for saltwater anglers in Maine. An extra day, or sometimes two, in the weekend allows for more time on the water. The stripers are often cooperative as we transition from summer to fall conditions. But...the decrease in day length is really noticeable and for many people, September brings a different pace to work expectations and schedules, and the letter from New Meadows Marina about winterization, shrink wrapping, and boat storage stares you in the face. We also recognize that there are already fewer fish here in Maine than we had on July 4th and each passing day will bring us closer to the end of this striper fishing season. 

While I contemplate all of the above, it doesn't consume me, yet. That's because I have albies on the brain. My transition from striper charters to guiding false albacore trips, from Kennebec flats to Vineyard Sound shorelines, from stalking to attacking, has me fired right up. If you'd like to experience this fishery, be prepared to become consumed. Give me a call or send me an email to talk about a charter trip on Cape Cod during September. It will change you outlook on the fall.

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Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

Mainestripers.com

 


Saltwater Fly Fishing Skills - Clearing The Line

Recently I've been helping a number of anglers with their fly rod hook setting and fish fighting skills. We've talked about stripping and ripping and the virtues of a strong set. On Friday I was guiding two novice fly anglers for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River and we worked on keeping a bend in the rod to provide shock absorption for a light tippet. Of course we weren't using anything close to a delicate leader, but it was good practice for their upcoming trout pursuits. 

I just stumbled upon this video while combing through albie season photos.

You'll notice that right after the hook set I have slack line on the deck that is going to scream out as the false albacore takes off. You can see me separate my two hands in an effort to prevent the line from wrapping around the rod butt and the reel then at about 0:19 you'll see me briefly rotate the rod 180 degrees as I notice a small tangle in the line approaching the stripping guide. Sometimes turning the rod upside down helps a cluster-knot exit cleanly. Thankfully in this case it came undone on its own.

I see a lot of people intentionally "put fish on the reel" by trying to reel in slack after the hook set and thus see a lot of fish spit the hook. If the fish isn't taking out the slack line itself, I recommend stripping it by hand - either all the way to landing or until the fish takes off and clears the line itself. You'll do a better job of keeping tight to the fish. Remember, SLACK IS YOUR ENEMY.

It's funny fish season. Bonito are here in good numbers and albies are soon to follow. These fish will give you an opportunity to practice your line management skills. Things happen FAST after an albie eats your fly. If you'd like to get out to chase these amazing fish I've got some open charter dates in September and October, fishing the Southside of Cape Cod.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


Albies Are Still Here

I finally got back out on the water Sunday at first light. Anticipating heavy fog and choppy waters, we stationed ourselves off Nobska and waited for the light to hit the water and for the albies to show themselves. We drifted, and made blind casts, and watched and saw nothing. At 7:00 we started exploring down the Elizabeth Islands at found fish off Naushon and in and around Robinson's Hole. What a relief! I just didn't know what to expect after the extended bout of shit weather. Finding the first pod of busting albies, followed by another, and another, and another was uplifting. Getting the first false albacore to eat was joyous. Ah, what we live for...

There were large sections of really dirty water, but for about an hour plus it didn't seem to bother a group of ablies that were roaming through the current and blowing up on hoards of peanut bunker. When the current slacked we made a run down to scout the waters east of Cuttyhunk and found no signs there or in Quick's, but back at Robinson's, on the Bay side, there we groups of fish that would stay up just long enough to get one shot at them. I couldn't tell if they were feasting on peanut bunker or bay anchovies or something else. The water was reasonably clean and clear and the fish were moderately fussy.

We followed those fish all the way up the west side of Naushon, taking shots as they came, leapfrogging the blow ups, until we got close to Woods Hole where all hell was breaking loose. It was great fun to be back in the game, fully and completely, with all worries about an early end to the season set aside. The pink albie snax was drawing some ferocious strikes and the pink and electric chicken Hogy epoxies were also greeted with glee by these happy fish.

Fog is the challenge early this week.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Albie Season - Press Pause

IMG_1881The first week plus of chasing albies was really pretty fabulous. As is always the case with these fish, there are times when they eat with abandon and times when they are fussier than a four year-old at the dinner table, and we experienced plenty of both. Thankfully we usually were able to stay on the fish. The long runs across seemingly barren water only to find nada gets old. Much better to have albies balling and busting bait while you frantically search for THE fly or race to tie on a different color epoxy jig while the fish are still up.

Mornings were most consistently productive, but a couple of afternoons and evenings stand out in my memory. One of those late day cooperative feeds was in some reasonably rough water, with a good breeze kicking up against a stout tide all along the Falmouth shoreline, but last Sunday down in Robinson's there wasn't a ripple on the water and the fish couldn't have been happier. And the last day on the water prior to the storm, whoa. All of the overused superlatives don't adequately describe how good it was. Where's the photo of the biggest false albacore I've landed in five years? Due to an stupid iPhone that wouldn't f*ck1n turn on, only in my brain.

But...that seems like a long time ago. Monday was the last day I fished. One boat has been on the trailer and the other on a storm mooring since then. The wind and waves from Jose have us all on hold, waiting for the first weather window, wondering what we will find. Conditions had been incredible, with more peanut bunker than I'd seen in fifteen plus years and the usual clouds of bay anchovies that thankfully were not the fingernail sized bait that drives us crazy. There were lots of albies of all sizes spread from Harwich to Craigville to Falmouth and Woods Hole and on down to Cuttyhunk and up through Buzzards Bay. What has happened to all of that bait? Is this churned up water going to turn the albies back offshore? My guess and my hope is that all of the worrying will melt away as we find plenty of hungry and happy fish still blasting along the Cape and Island shores, blitzing plentiful bait and eating our jigs and flies, but until I get to see it, I'll keep fretting.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


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.


False Albacore Cape Cod Week One

Albie Snax Week one of chasing False Albacore around Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard was filled with long runs, warm days, clouds of peanut bunker, and enough albies to keep us smiling and searching for more funny fish. We found fewer instances of wave after wave of surface crashing albies vs last two years and spent more time blind casting (and blind catching) than I ever remember. We burned a lot of fuel, covered a lot of ground, and learned a few things. And we caught fish.

A typical day would start exiting Waquoit Bay in the dark and running to Edgartown to be in place for the 6:08 bite. Once activity and tide slowed significantly there we began searching, checking the outlet to Cape Poge Pond, State Beach and then running the length of the eastern side of the island down to Wasque. Nothing happening there so back through Vineyard Haven Harbor and over to Wood Hole. A few hours in and around Woods Hole and we'd blast to the West End of the canal to work flats and beaches around Onset and Mashnee and then make the run back to Waquoit at sunset.

This past weekend required much less traveling as the albies really picked up their activity in and around Wood Hole. There were pods of fish hanging in Lackey's that were not crashing the surface or making single distinct splashed, but casting to very subtle signs such as nervous water or subsurface flashes really paid off. Wood Hole had both churning water voracious feeds and fish hanging out of sight in the strong current. A little farther down the islands towards Cuttyhunk, there were pods of false albacore happily cruising the surface of the still water. They were the most fun to fish. Make a good cast and you were rewarded.

The most consistently productive locations for us for the week were Wood Hole, Lackey's, Edgartown, and Upper Buzzards Bay. The south shore of the Cape from Falmouth Inner Harbor to New Seabury didn't produce for us, a real change from previous seasons. Of course by today it could be on fire.

When the fish were down, we spent a lot of time fishing structure, working eddy lines, casting around rocks and pilings and boats and we caught a lot of fish this way when nothing seemed to be happening. The traditional small metals and Hogy Epoxies took fish in these spots but the real workhorse was the Albie Snax from Long Cast Plastics. More about techniques and lessons learned later...

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


The Albie Hunt Continues

Cape Cod False Albacore
One of 40 plus fish we found off Falmouth

After a day that ranks in my top five for the lifetime fishing list of "Holy Shit. This is unbelievable." yesterday was not epic, unreal or better than you ever imagined in your wildest funny fish dreams. But it was a ton of fun.

The wind was up out of the SW and we thought the fish would eat well in the rougher water. They thought different. There were up and down very sporadically and running just under the surface. We boated four or five beautiful fish but it was a different day.

Forecast today calls for less wind, still west southwest, which will be...? And the Albies today will behave like...? And we're going to find them...? And the best tide will be...? Well, you get the picture.

Capt Peter Fallon