September

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


More Albie Fun

Albie smile
Albie smile

I'll show you
Ned the hardware chucker

Fly in mouth
Gotcha

Albie puke
Larger bait is relative term


 

 

Had a great time catching up with my good friend and Hebron roommate Ned Hutchinson and a couple of his friends from Jackson, WY. It took a bit of running to find concentrations of fish and the weather all morning was stuck blowing northeast, but we caught enough to keep us happy and were casting to fish frequently. After the albie fun we ran around looking for supper for the guys to bring home to their families. Jed was high hook working the jig, plucking a sea bass or a fluke from every shoal. We eventually found the school we were looking for and put enough on ice for the whole gang.

After dropping these guys off I headed back out to scout for this afternoon's trip. The front had passed, the sun was out and the wind kindly shifted to the southwest. Even though the tide had slowed and then died, the fish were clearly more cooperative. I caught a couple on the fly, which made me smile even if there was no one there to photograph it, and then ran back to Falmouth and raced home to a late supper with my folks.

Heading back to the Cape in a few minutes. Will update more about yesterday and next two days soon. Weather looks good.

 

Capt. Peter Fallon


Albies Around Cape Cod, Stripers in Maine

Another AlbieEvery year I look forward to spending time down around Cape Cod chasing the funny fish. After four months focused on the flats and sightcasting to stripers, I really enjoy the change; of being on open water, of the faster paced hunt, of adjusting my mindset and approach.

And these fish, my god, they are awesome. The sensation of that tail set on super oscillate that travels up the line makes everyone grin. Figuring them out (or not, on some days) satisfies something that drives every passionate angler. And the runs, whoa. Too often we're all guilty of overusing the term "screaming drag", right? Set your fly into a 10 lb albie or drive a hook home on a 75 lb bluefin tuna and you can use the term all you want.

The logistics involved in the trips sometimes seem foolish and the weather these months laughs at plans but when you set eyes on that first pod of busting fish and know that they aren't blues and they aren't stripers, all the worries and hassles melt away. I might have an opening towards the end of next week. Let me know if you'd like to join me.

Albie fly

Now, please don't take any of my comments as disparaging remarks about fishing for striped bass. No, no, no. And if you're thinking about fishing in Maine right now, there is some fabulous fall action in full swing. The reports that I've been getting from friends guiding on the Kennebec and Casco Bay are glowing. There are a lot of fish that have moved inshore recently. All of this weather has made fishing the beaches and outer points an on again/off again game, but the Kennebec and the flats in Casco Bay are fishing very well. Please let me know if you need a recommendation for a guide. I'd be happy to help you out while I'm down south.


Capt. Peter Fallon

Mainestripers.com


Quick Update: Maine Saltwater Fishing

The one constant in fall fishing is change. There certainly are patterns, year to year, day to day, but your fishing plans always need to be flexible this time of year. In June, a group of stripers may work the tidal currents in a section of the river a mile long for a week straight. In July, stable weather has pods of bass on the flats acting according to script day after day. In September and October, things are always in flux.

I fished with Fritz Saturday and Sunday of this holiday weekend. Saturday morning we went looking for a pattern that repeats itself every fall, stripers setting up in moving water over great structure, looking to ambush young-of-the-year alewives. Our first stop produced a couple fish, but far less action than we'd hoped. Sticking with our plan (not always the right call), we found what we were looking for at stop number two. It was a hoot. Therapy for Fritz after a long week in the office. A perfect way to slide mentally into the holiday weekend that sadly marks the end of summer. The fish were happy. The Lonely Angler Zipster was money. We didn't see an other boat all morning.

Photo

Sunday morning we were underway before 4:30 AM and set up on a draining flat before 5:00, well before sunset and two hours before low tide. Perfect, right. This was a spot that has been so consistant, even in late July and early August, when the fishing was at its ebb. Nada. Well, not quite, but we only saw two pushes of water on the glassy surface, heard no slurps or slaps, and had one little schoolies striped bass swat at the surface plug.

 

 

Photo

 

We made a big move and ran out to fish the beach from Popham to Small Point. What a place to be at sunrise. There we fish out there, chasing small bait that I never got a chance to identify. The only signs we saw were a couple of these snacks skipping across the surface of the water in a race for their lives. No swirls or splashes. No big feeds. Once we lost the tide, the signs stopped and we moved on.

 

 

Photo-1

Arriving on an oceanside flat just as the water was rising, we found large schools of stripers cruising in the shallow water over the sand bottom. After watching them for a while, tossing at them with no results we moved on. We saw no signs of any feeding activity and no reaction to our offerings.

 

The water temperature has dropped significantly over the past ten days. Out along the beach it was 54.5 degrees. That's a significant change. The large schools of bluefish that had been so predictable the last two weeks have moved on. There are still chopper blues and gator blues around, but they are much more dispersed. The mackerel are back along shore. The mouth of the Kennebec was loaded with them both mornings. There was also huge schools of macs on a line between Jacknife Ledge and Fuller Rock in about 60 feet of water. Keep your eyes open and you may run onto a pod of stripers or a swarm of blues going nuts on these mackerel. If your timing is right it will be a day you remember all winter.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Mainestripers.com


Waiting on the Wind

In what has been the windiest September I can recall, I managed to set aside this week to chase false albacore down on Cape Cod. This time period has been kind to us in the past. The fish have been cooperative (as albies go) and there are fewer boats chasing them around during the week. A day or two would be windy enough to force us to alter plans, maybe seeking shelter up in the coves and harbors of Buzzard's Bay or chasing stripers and blues in Boston Harbor or Duxbury Bay. A day or two would be FAC, all the way across the Sound, letting us imagine that we were still in the middle of summer as we ran to the fish market in Menemsha for lunch and left jackets in stuff sacs even after the sun went down. And a couple days would be windy but fishable. The kind of days where you needed the stripping basket, where you might reach for the spinning gear before the fly rod, where you would need a shower before supper to rinse off the salt caked on from spray.

This week has been filled with days where you don't even make the effort to poke out past the jetty or drive down to the shore to gauge the waves and the forecast is calling for more of the same. I made it out Wednesday, in a pesky chop driven up onto the Falmouth shore by the southwest wind. No funny fish revieled themselves to me. I chatted with a couple of other anglers who had been running the same searching circut who reported the same findings. Thursday's weather window was much smaller, as the Cape Wind tower in Nantucket Sound was reportsing gusts to 17 knots out of the southeast by dawn. The northeast corner of Buzzards Bay offered the best combination of lee shore and chance to see hardtails. By 1:00 PM there was enough shelter along Monument Beach and Wings Neck to consider staying out, but the run back to the launch ramp was going to be a slog. Time to head home.

There are still stripers in the Kennebec River and Casco Bay. My last Maine saltwater trip in 2009 was in the third week of October and we found fish. The past couple of weeks the striped bass have been holding in deeper waters upriver. There have also been pods of nice bass cruising along the outer beaches, but getting to them has been tough between all of the swell and wind. The past three weeks have been much slower on the flats in the Kennebec. We haven't had any significant numbers of peanut bunker down around the mouth of the river and the little spike macs are still hanging just offshore. For whatever reason, the bass haven't moved into many of the traditional fall ambush points where they feast on young of the year alwives. They remain very grouped up, but that could change at any time.

Looks like we'll have a brief respite when the winds will drop under 15 knots, and there aren't many days left to chase the albies without a much longer trek to the south, so we'll give it another shot. Bird season is underway in Maine and the snow guns at Sunday River will be fired up any day now.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com

 


September Dislikes and Likes

This is an amazing time to be on the water, both here in Maine and down in Boston Harbor, Cape Cod Bay and the south side of the Cape. Some days it's full on summer and other days it is very clearly fall. There is a touch of melancholy to every outing, as the days seem so much shorter and the fish start moving south but there is also a sense that we're onto a secret. With so many people turning their attention to house projects, youth soccer games, early season hunts and even winterizing their boats (Yikes!) we can feel like we've got it figured out and everyone else is missing the boat.

Here are some seasonal thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain these past few weeks.

September dislikes...

Too many windy days – everywhere - Kennebec River, Stellwagen Bank, Vineyard Sound.

Having to wear socks for a reason other than bug protection.

Lower angle of the sun makes sighting stripers more difficult.

Running low on hot fly patterns.

Hurricane swell messing up water clarity on the striper flats.

Sunset before 7:00 PM.

Dry, bright, clear, days with strong NW wind.

The run and gun crowd on the albie circuit.

Fewer excuses for why I haven’t finished remodeling the kitchen.

Did I mention the wind?

Trying to find my wool hat.

Wondering if the swarms of peanut bunker will ever return to Maine.

Thoughts of season pass sales numbers, staff training, new voucher policies and moving to Sunday River.


September likes...

Small bait is easy to imitate with a more castable fly.

Wearing socks for reasons other than bug protection.

No 2:30 AM wake up times.

Having a little more time to refill fly boxes between trips.

Eating supper with Sarah more than once a week.

Ice in the cooler lasts a lot longer.

Skinny water stripers slamming all sorts of flies.

Far fewer boats on the water here in Maine.

Less DEET.

Fat striped bass and fast false albacore.

Finding my wool hat.

The colors at Small Point.

Re-rigging the small metals for the windy day albie hunts.

The slow rate of growth of the lawn.

Indian summer days on the tuna grounds of Cape Cod Bay.

Taking along a thermos of tea for the first time since early June.

Thoughts of woodcock, grouse, pheasants, sharptails and huns.


Hope you've enjoyed this month as much as I have. Remember that there are still a lot of fish to be caught.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


What It's All About

The forecast for Saturday looked to be fishy, with the first cloudy morning that we've had in a while. My anglers were called to work so I headed out with the hopes of scouting some flats that I haven't explored in a while. The wind was up early, straight out of the north, making the surface of the water very tough to read. After poling around for an hour and only bumping two small groups of fish I ran to find some moving water.

There were a few stripers holding in the current lines right tight to shore and willing to eat on the surface. I then went to check on a number of places that had been so productive earlier in the week. First drift I hooked (and promptly lost) a fish, but that wasn't a repeatable event. A couple more drifts produced nothing.

My good friend Capt. Dan Wolotsky of Sweet Action Charters was alone in his boat, doing the same thing, getting his fix and finding fish for his Sunday clients. We were sharing findings when we decided that we should fish together. I put the Maverick on a mooring and hopped into Dan's boat. We fished six places that all held good numbers of bass recently but only hooked one fish.

We decided to run upriver and check a couple of ledges that had good current flow over them and started at a spot that both of us knew but hadn't fished well for either of us. We spent the next hour there catching fish on almost every drift. So much for our exploring mission. We got caught up in the fun of fishing and had a blast.

After a busy summer for both of us, Dan and I had plenty of stories to share. What I took away from our conversation was the importance of the "fun" element of a fishing charter. Nobody works harder for his clients than Dan. He's really good at putting his guests on fish and he's driven to find success but he always remembers that it's not just about the catching. Good fishing day or tough fishing day, Dan's always committed to making sure that everyone on his boat has a blast, and that's a gift.

Check out Dan's Blog and you'll see what I mean.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com