Capt. Mauser snagging an Albacore on the fly rocking our Trout Patch hat in Digi Camo & Black.
The summers are hot and muggy along the Carolina coast. South West breezes and No See’um gnats fill the air. Redfish in the grass fill my thoughts, and take up most of my time on the water. At some point in September, Mother Nature changes her mood and we start to get a few breaks in the heat, brought on by Northern breezes. Yellow Sulphur Butterflies fill the air and mullet school up in multitudes…all signs that really good fishing is right around the corner. As September turns into October, the North winds become more prevalent, and the baitfish march out of the marsh and through the inlets to make their way down the beach to their winter homes. As the baitfish make their way South, they are greeted by an onslaught of predators that have only one mission in mind…to eat every single one of them!
Jacks, Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel….and the king of near shore fall predators, the False Albacore, are there to meet them. I love fishing the marsh, but when the Albies show up, they have my complete attention. To quote my buddy, “When God made Albacore, he had fly fishermen in mind.” Imagine small tuna in the 10-20lb range that swim, eat tiny flies and jigs, and run, all at 40mph. Now put these fish in groups, from packs of 5 or 6 to schools of hundreds. Imagine them destroying schools of silversides and anchovies, with the water’s surface boiling with foam and spray as the baitfish jump for their lives, and gulls hover above picking up pieces of the carnage. It’s one of the most intense, and heart thumping types of fishing I have ever been involved in, and that’s what keeps me coming back.
We watch the weather for those stretches of light North winds, we rise early to leave the inlet at sunrise, and run miles in search of our targets. We run the beach and scan the horizon for beehives of seagulls, a sure sign of blitzing Albies below. Sometimes we follow a single frantic seagull as it zigs and zags over the water. There are albacore below that bird, and both the bird and us know the same thing…that eventually those albacore will connect with a school of baitfish and then all heck will break loose. Some days they stay up on big schools of bait and you get several shots at a school and are almost guaranteed a hookup. Some days they are scattered in small packs and on very small schools of bait, giving you only seconds to run and gun it, and fire one good cast at them before they bolt. You keep at it because you know when you get the eat, it will only take seconds before you see your backing and your reel will be a blur until the fish is 100 yards or more away. Some days you have be polite and share schools with dozens of other boats, and some days you keep going until you find fish without another boat in sight. Some days there are fish busting as soon as you leave the inlet, and some days you search for hours and find them on the last hour of the tide. It’s all part of the game, and I love every second of it. This season has been fantastic so far, and we’re just getting to the climax of it. I can’t wait to get back on the water and get bent and spooled on some more of these chrome underwater rockets.