Fresh From The Salt

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Feature Stories 2012


Volume 3, Issue 5, November 2012: False Pride - False albacore = aggressive strike, powerful fighters


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FRESH FROM THE SALT,  November 2012, Volume 3, Issue 5 feature story:  False Pride - False albacore = aggressive strike, powerful fighters, It's a bird, it's a plane - NO, but it's the fastest damn fish in Tampa Bay and local celebrity bug whipper Brad Lowman is once again gracing the cover of Saltwater Angler Magazine in the November 2012 issue. Brad and I jumped on the false albacore run this past month and enjoyed plenty o' screaming drags. At speeds of 40 mph, this fish doesn't play! Also in on the "little tunny" invasion was The Drake Magazine editor, Tom Bie, who fished with Sarasota area guide Capt. Rick Grassett (pg. 33).

 

 

False Pride - False albacore = aggressive strike, powerful fighters
By Joshua W. Broer

 

It’s that time of year again when fly fisherman and lure slingers head to the mouth of Tampa Bay to chase the fastest fish in the bay, the False Albacore. This particular species is often mistaken for the bonito, a completely different fish more commonly found offshore in the Gulf. False Albacore, affectionately referred to as “Little Tunny” in the pelagic angling community, show up on our coast beginning late summer and stick around until early winter. September through November are prime months to get into what is one of the most thrilling catch n’ release games on the water – the seasonal false albie chase.

Throughout the Autumn months, between Egmont Key and the Skyway Bridge, there’s no way you can miss the dive-bombing birds, massive schools of glass minnows and numerous pods of false albacore that are blitzing bait as far as the eye can see. It’s truly an amazing site to see these fish corral this bait into tightly-packed balls and destroy them at the water’s surface. It’s a frenzy that gets the heart pumping year after year.

Like the famed little tunny waters found off the coast of our Atlantic Ocean states, most notably Montauk, NY and Harker’s Island, NC, our very own Tampa Bay provides some of the best sport found for these torpedo-like fish which race through the sea at speeds of up to 40 mph! It’s not uncommon to see two or more boats racing back and forth between blow-ups to get that sudden strike from these speedsters. And when hooked up, HOLD ON!

When you hook up to a little tunny, keep in mind a few things. For fly fishermen, be sure to have good line management. If your fly line is wrapped around your trolling motor, rod holder, your foot, etc., you’re going to have a big problem, fast. This will usually result in a break off as your fly line will zip out of your stripping basket or off the boat deck and through your rod guides at lightning speed. If you have a knot in your fly line, you can almost guarantee that knot will zip through your rod guides and break one or two in the process. With spin casters it’s the same thing. If a knot develops in your spool then it’s game over.

Whether using fly or spin tackle, you’re going to lose a lot of line in a hurry. These fish love to do their thing right in the middle of the shipping channel so they have plenty of water to sound deep into the bay. For fly fishermen, that means needing to have at least 200 yards or more of backing on your spool. For spin fishermen, the more line on your spool, whether all braid or mono backing, the better. You can use your outboard motor or trolling motor to help recover line but nevertheless, that initial run will take 100 yards or more before you can blink. And beware the fish that makes a quick 180 turn and heads straight towards the boat. You may think you’ve lost your fish only to discover that he’s directly under the boat and you have hundreds of yards of slack line in the water.

False albacore are a fun fish only. There’s no cuisine involved with these guys. Termed “bleeders” by some, they are perhaps the bloodiest fish I’ve come across. On my last fly fishing chase in the bay, fishing partner Brad Lowman was the first to hook up to a fish inside of an enormous blitz only to have an approximately eight foot shark rip into his catch at the surface. The water covered in blood, Brad reeled in nothing but a fish head. Note to reader: swimming in the mouth of the bay during false albacore runs not recommended!

November should prove just as fast and furious as October so jump on these fish while they’re still here. The action is unbeatable and your photos and videos will be priceless.

Contact info:  jbroer@freshfromthesalt.com or www.freshfromthesalt.com