I had a pretty amazing morning. I knew it was going to be spectacular just after Mark and I launched and I realized my camera was on the fritz. For no particular reason every photo was extremely washed out. I don't know why. The video was fine. Something must have gotten on the sensor to mess it up. Fortunately I have a back up camera and Mark's phone did a more than accurate job at capturing the scene.
I had that feeling last night. I couldn't do anything to get myself to fall asleep. That feeling was validated when I found two dock stripers before the boat was even in the water this morning. Mark used the latrine, I decided to take a look off the side of the launch, and there were two bass that were both in excess of ten pounds. As dock stripers typically are, they were curious but smart enough not to grab my fly. Pretty much as soon as we got the boat out of the launch Mark broke the ice with a schoolie.
This was not really a striper focused outing though... the target fish was false albecore, a fish that has been on my short list for about four years. I have never really been able to target them seriously until this season, and this was my first real shot at hooking one. We found some scattered groups very quickly but were unable to get our flies in front of any fish. Before we had a chance to pick up and go we found a distraction. About 100 yards away I spotted a dark object occasionally breaking the surface. My initial guess was harbor seal. After a few more moments we had drifted closer to the object and it became clear that it was a fin and I guessed shark. Not wanting to miss an odd shot at a shark we slowly worked toward the slowly waving fin. When we got closer I could see a large disk shaped brown mass under the fin. Mark was the first to suggest it could be an ocean sunfish, and eventually we concluded that it couldn't really have been anything else. Not too man people get to see a living mola mola in the wild. We are very luck. Of course we spent so much time trying to figure out what it was that we didn't think to photograph it before it disappeared.
We found the albies again a little further down the shore and both had fish boil for our flies. That gave us some hope, but we had to chase them down to the next point. There, despite the fact that only a couple fish were showing, I was totally caught off guard by a violent take. After a few initial thrashes on the surface I assumed it was just a bluefish. Then it was just gone. before I knew what had happened I was down a good way into the backing. To Mark and my surprise the albie then charged the boat. I was forced to strip like mad. I came tight with the fish directly below the boat and at least 20 feet down. The instant I came tight again it dumped so far into the backing so damn fast... you need to experience this fish to understand it. We then had a problem.
I had rather stupidly not re-spooled my backing the day before, and it was overlapped about a hundred feet in. I recognized the problem quickly and began ripping the line out so it wouldn't catch easily, and by the time it did I had buttoned down and stopped the fish. We gave chase to avoid a disaster, and after a bit of give and take I won. I couldn't believe how gorgeous that fish was. I was shaking like a leaf!
We kept fishing, and found feeding albies in other spots. I hoped Mark would hook up but you can only ask so much. I caught another schoolie by the boat launch but it was all really anticlimactic. So much happened to make the day amazing. I can't indulge every single detail. I have to keep some for myself and Mark alone. I can't thank Mark enough for helping me in my quest for an albie, I would probably not have caught one this year had it not been for his help.