FALSE TRUTHS

THE ALBIE BITE IS ABOUT TO BUST WIDE OPEN UP AND DOWN THE EAST COAST. TOSS ASIDE THE TACKLE SHOP BAN­TER AND JOIN THE MAD­NESS

Outdoor Life - - FISHING - BY STEPHEN SAUTNER

An­glers from Cape Look­out to Cape Cod are about to lose their col­lec­tive mind. That’s be­cause the mer­cu­rial false al­ba­core—the scale-model tuna that’s bone­fish-fast—is set to hit the surf. From Septem­ber through Novem­ber, al­bies will be blast­ing shoals of sil­ver­sides and sand eels within cast­ing dis­tance of the shore­line, and oth­er­wise stoic surf­men will re­sem­ble a mob in Times Square chas­ing 100dol­lar bills.

The false al­ba­core’s strato­spheric rise from ob­scure by­catch to tar­get species has spawned a litany of do’s and don’ts es­poused by albie sharpies. Some are ob­vi­ously true—such as don’t try to slow one down on its blis­ter­ing first run. But there are enough false al­ba­core un­truths out there that some myth-bust­ing is in or­der.

MYTH 1: FALSE AL­BA­CORE ARE INED­I­BLE.

▶I’ve heard it all: “Worst fish I’ve ever tasted.” “Even my cat wouldn’t eat it.” “Stunk up the whole house.” But the truth is, these fish are down­right tasty when they’re grilled—if, and only if, you bleed, gut, and ice them al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter beach­ing them. At home, fil­let the fish, slice it into chunks, and mar­i­nate it for 1 to 2 hours in a mix­ture of olive oil, soy sauce, white wine, gar­lic, mus­tard seed, and ginger. Char it, but leave the mid­dle pink.

MYTH 2: YOU NEED TO BURN BAITS.

▶While you might think that a fish ca­pa­ble of swim­ming at 40 knots would like its food to move equally fast, it’s sim­ply not true. Watch al­ba­core tear through bait and you’ll fre­quently see them whirl around and pick off the stunned or wounded fish that are left be­hind. Slow down your re­trieve. Twitch your metal, buck­tail, or soft-plas­tic like it’s an easy meal, and you will be re­warded.

MYTH 3: YOU NEED A FLUOROCARB­ON LEADER.

▶Yeah, yeah, yeah, fluorocarb­on is in­vis­i­ble in wa­ter and all that, and lit­tle tunny do have great eye­sight. But I’ve seen so many al­bies caught on heavy mono shock lead­ers that I just don’t think it re­ally mat­ters.

MYTH 4: YOU HAVE TO USE FLIES.

▶Why should the fly guys have all the fun? Spin fish­er­men should try us­ing a hook­less pop­per with a 3- to 4-foot drop­per rigged with a pop­u­lar al­ba­core fly like a Surf Candy or Albie Whore. Pop it in slowly (see Myth 2 ). False al­ba­core will wal­lop it like a gi­ant tuna hit­ting a daisy chain of mack­erel.

MYTH 5: YOU MUST WAIT FOR THE FISH TO SHOW.

▶Some al­ba­core an­glers stand in the surf for hours and never make a cast. They stare steely-eyed at the ocean, wait­ing and hop­ing for it to erupt with a fren­zied blitz that may never come. But that’s cer­tainly not the only way to tie into fish. Try blind-cast­ing and fishing the wa­ter—rips, dropoffs, or points—rather than wait­ing for the easy money. And who knows? Maybe you’ll luck into a bluefish, striper, or bonito along the way.

A Block Is­land, R.I., an­gler pounds the surf dur­ing the fall false al­ba­core run.

From top: Surf Candy, Albie Whore flies, and a pop­per-drop­per rig.

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