For years, I’ve been trying to get my dad to come fly fishing for false albacore. He was understandably worried; most stories he had heard involved a long haul over big swells to get to big schools. Finally, after a day of catching albies on the Vineyard (more on that soon), he caught the bug. He was in.
And thank god. This my dad — maker of bamboo fly rods, author of fly fishing books, collaborator with Bogdan. What can I possibly teach him about fly fishing? He’s taught me more than a lifetime’s worth.
My good friend Jared had offered us the use of his boat. We splashed at sunrise and spent the day chasing schools of albies. It could not have been a better day for seeing fish; we saw them, literally, all day long, sometimes for sustained feeds, sometimes right off the boat. We did our fair share of the ol’ run and gun, but they also came to us.
We also saw something I had heard about, but never seen. Motoring along the shore at one point, we were looking at splashes in close to shore. So close, we presumed they had to be bass. But in this one spot, the albies had pushed a giant ball of bait up against the shore, and were feeding in mere feet of water along the rocky shore. They were mixed in with bass and bait, so close that if you were fly fishing from shore you’d have been able to not only cast at them, but cast over them. It was a remarkable sight.
In the end, the catching was tough. I lost a leader when an ablie broke me off at the leader-to-line connection. Jared lost one when his backing was mysteriously cut. I lost another one when it spit the fly. We had a few more follows and boils, but ended up with just one in the boat.
Still, that one. They are such a beautiful fish; opalescent pure muscle with giant eyes, tall fins, and impossibly hard tails. How, I always wonder, is this fish from this earth? How are we so lucky to hold them in our hands?
Pops got into it. He did everything we’ve all done in the mad pursuit of these fish: we’ve cursed when, seeing fish busting and finalyl punching the line forward, we find we’ve stepped on the line and leave it short. He shook his head when he put the fly right into the mix and came up empty. He dumped the fly 10 feet from the boat on busting fish. He urged us to chase surface feeds in the distance. He stood marveling, touching the side of one, in wonder alongside all of us in the boat.
At the end of the day, his face red from the sun, Pops was all jokes and laughs. My dad had albie fever.
See below for some photos from the day. Many thanks to Jared for making this possible!