This morning dawned cold and breezy. Mark Alpert got on the water not too long after the sun did, and like I had felt like doing the fish seemed to be sleeping in. We came out of the launch are and saw a lot of dead water, water that often is full of bass, blues and albies this time of year, chowing down on bait fish. This morning we saw no pops, no splashes, no birds working. Sometimes that means very little, there may be a blitz unseen below the surface. But this morning our blind casting to structure moved no stripers and working the teaser spook brought up no blues.
The first fish we saw popping were not clearly identified and never came into casting range. The next, quite some time later, took some time to show their true identity. They were false albacore. But they were moving very fast and were gone as fast as they had shown. We moved west to fish a rip that could have any kind of fish available in the sound depending on the timing. There were albies there, but they were working as singles or pairs, and although their movements were predictable these are tricky fish to catch with the fly rod. It was exciting to see these fish around, they are beautiful to watch in the water, but I'd be lying if I said my confidence levels were high.
Sometimes the fish gods throw you a bone, and in this case it came in the form of a smashing take on Marks fly, dangled in the water just of the stern as we stopped to set up a drift.
That was really just a little taste of tunoid, and it got me hungry. I missed one fish blind casting but it became abundantly clear that the fish in the rip were behaving in a manor that made them too hard to catch with any reasonable frequency. We decided after a bit to move east, aiming for some ledges that have held big striped bass in the past. We didn't make it. We rode right into albie city. This time they were more numerous and moving slowly enough to get in front of. It didn't take long before Mark and I were doubled up.
We landed our evil twins as quickly as we could. When both of our fish had been returned and swam off strongly we turned and looked east again to see another substantial pod of fish working. We motored that way, and as we traveled an unexpected scene unfolded. Acres and acres of false albacore had gathered; not in one solid blitz, but an enormous spread of almost evenly distributed fish popping and splashing, with concentrated pods throughout. No cast felt inadequate, fish were breaking all around the boat in all directions and beyond. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, and to say I was high would be an understatement. It didn't take long for us to double up again. I can truly say it would have been nice to have heavier rods as we could possibly have caught a bunch more fish with beefier tackle to bring the hooked ones in faster.
Mark's fish took a bit longer to land, and it's no wonder why, it was a bigger one!
There's something magical about that. We went from mild frustration to all out excitement in just a short window of time. It was incredible, some of the best albie action I've ever seen, even though they were quite picky. Seeing fish is what makes me tick, whether the are in the water or out. I will leave you all with this photo. Look closely, as it shows one of the most exciting moment in fly fishing here in New England: the moments just before fly and false albacore intersect. In that moment the angler feels something most people will never quite understand. I'm not sure I do and I've felt it time and time again. It's not a bad feeling, but then it isn't great either. Uncertainty. Fear. Ecstasy.