Albies – Here today, there tomorrow

October 9,  Smithtown Bay –

We have been trying to get out together all summer and it finally happened.  Walter, Dennis and I – all members in good standing of the unofficial Eatons Neck Fishing Club. I picked them up at Hobart dock, rickety as it is, and with the tide low not much of it is in the water, but be that as it may, they boarded and we headed outside, looking for Albies.

Dennis and Walter of the Eatons Neck Fishing Club

There were plenty of bunker

We passed them agreeing that we only stop for birds and bait, not just bait. I had an idea of where we should start given my last two outings but the birds showed up early.  Right off the lighthouse they were picking at something in the surface although we didn’t see any confirmation that predators were there. A few casts told the story, cocktail Blues.  We reeled in and continued east.

Dennis shook his head as leaving biting fish is new to him.  “If you want Albies, you have to focus” I tell him. “Can’t let some Bluefish distract you.”

We slow to an idle where they were last time, searching the horizon for a sign.  Relying on Walter to do the long range spotting as Dennis and I are past our visual prime. Nothing, so we continue.  More bunker schools and we entertain one while looking for birds.  Nobody was home.

My son Tom and I had to go all the way to Cranes Neck on Sunday and I am hoping not to have to do that again. 

Albie fishing with Tom
Albie fishing with Tom

As always I follow the contour line that makes sense and we are all watching intently. Walter sights them and I cut the speed. Wow are his eyes good.  All the way inside, along the shore the birds seem to be cruising back and forth.  We go over to take a look.

More Blues? 

Hard to tell until you get into them. If they were big Blues, the torpedo kind, it would be easy to distinguish but the cocktails hit the bait in a similar way to the Albies, although they don’t change position as fast. 

Walter’s Albie #7

Walter gets a fish on and his drag is screaming – that’s an Albie!  The fish dives, runs and circles around.  I lift the outboard to avoid a break off. After a respectable fight he comes to the boat and we leader him on to the deck. Nice fish!

Dennis’ Albie

We look up and they are 50 yards away.  That is how the day goes: Fish on, followed by motoring up to them again.  Dennis has one on and it is wearing him out. Big Albies!

I guess we had 8 in the boat and a number more that were released long distance. As the tide peaked more Blues were mixed in. Dennis had a bite off and that was it for the Albies.

October 10,  Smithtown Bay –

Luke is with me and the plan is the same as yesterday – run outside and find birds over bait. Albies are interesting fish.  They move very quickly and apparently over wide areas. This day they are here, the next day they are not. Sometimes you get lucky and find a few in the same spot, but not that often. 

Passing bunker schools we find our first birds. The hits are mixed.  Some modest and others more aggressive.  Could be Albies but probably small Blues.  We pull up to take a look as Luke gets the fly rod.

Still not sure what we are seeing

Before we can make a positive ID, they are gone.  A splash here and there, but no organized feeding. Luke continues to cast as we slowly move around the area.  He lets the fly troll for a while.  Nothing.  He begins to reel in and wham. Fish on!

He is well into his backing and the fish is seemingly huge. As he reels the fish runs.  Then it seemed to go down and stay there.  Luke is pumping to get him in, his arms and repaired shoulder feeling the strain. Could it be a big Bass?  I get the net out.  The backing is on the reel and the leader is beginning to show, but we still can’t see the fish even in this clear October water.

Stubbornly holding the bottom

He runs from Starboard to Port as I lift the engine. Another run, another tug of war.  Back to Starboard. I put the net down as Luke maneuvers the fish next to the gunnel. We see the tippet and I grab for the knot as the fish sounds once again. On the next round he comes to the surface and still tries to run. An Albie! Luke reels and I grab the leader and lift.  He is in the boat.

First fish of the day!

Luke’s Albie on a fly!

Removing the fly, we take some photos before releasing.  A brief celebration and high fives before we get back to the business of birds and bait, neither of which are in view. We motor east.

I show Luke where we got them last Thursday and where we got them on Tuesday and where they were last year.  Stopping in each of these spots we drift for a while.  A few sporadic splashes not soon repeated are our only reward. 

Further east and then further outside

North that is. Maybe they headed to the deep water.  Could be they are just down, waiting for the bait to show up. Perhaps they are back where we started. Wherever they are, they are not here.

We ended the day throwing flies and poppers at the inside points, jetties and walls that have produced in the past.  At Duck Island I tell Luke that Dennis always catches one by those three trees.  Luke throws his tin that way and a small Blue attacked it.  A few more casts and we called it a day.

That’s fishing

Here today, gone tomorrow, especially with Albies.