Birds and breaking water. The quick cast. The mad stripping of line, hand over hand. The hard set. And then the speed—the speed of the take, the speed of the run, and the speed with which you need to throw the fish back into the ocean, headlong, like a hand-launched torpedo.
This is the experience of false albacore on the fly. The whole thing, a rush.
After a lifetime of fishing, and admiring the beauty of fish—the spots on brown trout, the shimmering side of Atlantic salmon, and the saucer-sized scales of tarpon—but the false albacore is, to my eye, the most beautiful fish I’ve ever held. The colors are like shades of burnished steel, with slips of dark green silk, overlain with a opalescent film. Under the sun, the fish does not seem to simply reflect light, but generate light.
Last week, I had the pleasure of fly fishing for false albacore (also known as “little tunny”) off Cape Cod with two good friends, Eoin and Bob. We hired Tom Rapone, a long-standing fishing guide and lawyer who, this fall, experienced a relapse into guiding — to our great benefit. Tom is one of the finest saltwater guides I’ve ever fished with, and a great guy to boot. While I understand the lure of the law, I do hope he continued to experience relapses for years to come.
The day was productive, particularly at the start. We motored out and immediately came upon breaking schools of albacore. Bob — proving yet again that he’s one of the fishiest people I know—hooked an albie on his first backcast. Eoin then hooked one immediately, to double up. I came to the bow and tried to hook yet another to start the day by tripling up, but failed to do so. I caught one later, and Eoin caught one again later when a school of albies flared up when we were looking for stripers. Three albies, three fishermen, two lost, and fish all around. A good day, if ever I saw one.
Here are some photos from the day. My thanks to Bob and Eoin for their photos, and to Tom Rapone for his excellent guiding. I hope we all get out again soon.
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