Albie Fever—The Only Game in Town

When there’s no Striped Bass or Bluefish to Catch, it’s Albies–or Golf.

October 19, 2017:  They call it Albie Fever.  Or, simply: The Fever.  Catching Albies–False Albacore–is an obsession for some anglers.  The sleek and football shaped Little Tunny, or Euthynnus alletteratus, are 40-mph speed demons more related to mackerel than to the tuna you are used to eating.  They are considered among the most challenging game fish in the Northern Hemisphere.  Right now, the East End of Long Island is lousy with them.

ALBIE KING: Verizon Charlie smiling with the home field advantage.

ALBIE ON THE ROCKS: They joy of jetty fishing.

Aficianados of Albie fishing are enamored with the finesse it takes to hook one even when they are blitzing within casting range.  If lucky or skilled enough to nail one, an Albie’s running fight defies its size and weight, typically 12 to 18 inches, 3 to 6 pounds.  Swift and stealthy, the wide-eyed Albie eschews the big boisterous popping plugs we usually throw to Bluefish and Striped Bass.  Delicate, shiny and fast-reeled lures are what’s required.  Even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll connect.  And if you encounter a pod of them, cast fast and don’t blink.  Because Albies can be gone as suddenly as they appear.

Despite the encouragement of my chum Verizon Charlie, one of The Faithful on the beach and the undisputed king of Albie surfcasting,  I’ve shunned chasing them for one main reason: Albies are not good table fare.  And by that, I’m being as kind as I can be.  I cooked one recently by doing my Anthony Bourdain best: Bleeding it, filleting it, marinating it, seasoning it and finally grilling it.  I had four lovely dark-meat loins. I was encouraged by a posting that said “If you like Bluefish, you’ll like Albie”.  Yet another case of someone who knows absolutely nothing about cooking or eating Bluefish.  Despite my best efforts, the Albie was putrid.  Sour and gloppy.  I wouldn’t feed it to YOUR cat. I should have cooked it on a plank–then thrown away the fish and eaten the plank.

ALBIE IN THE BAY: You always remember your first.

But having caught my first Albie this season, I can attest to the thrill of the fight and the satisfaction of getting the hook up.  You’ll feel like the best fisherman in the water when you manage to outsmart one into taking your lure.  And Albies offer a run like none other when you do get one on . However, more times than not you’ll feel like an incompetent fool when you pull right through a pod of them at your feet without so much as a tap.  Oh, the humiliation.

Yet, what choice have any of us had this season in the surf, but to chase Albies for better or worse?  Everyone on the beach is singing the blues—or lack thereof.  Especially hard to take is the near total absence of Striped Bass in the surf.  So, it’s Albies in the inlet; Albies at the North Bar; Albies on the jetty, the ocean beaches and in Turtle Cove where October striper blitzes were once the norm, but are now legendary memories.

ALBIE IN THE COVE: Where stripers and blues once reigned.

What’s it all about [Albie?], you ask?  I wish I had the answer.  Not that there’s a shortage of theories for this year’s dismal fall run.  “The fish are still in Rhode Island.” “The commercial gill netters have taken all the fish.” “There’s no bait.”  “There’s too much bait.” “The water is too warm.”  “We haven’t had any nor’easter storms.” “Nothing’s been the same since Sandy changed the beach structure.” Yada, yada, yada. Take your pick; mix and match.  Bottom line is the same no matter:  Albies and only Albies are what we have to fish for this season.

So it is very clear to me why they call it Albie Fever. Because it is sickening that Albies are the only game in town.

3 Responses to “Albie Fever—The Only Game in Town”

  1. Chaweenster says:

    Mi dispiace fratello! Could the lack of good fishing be connected to the lack of beautiful fall color this year?

  2. Fred Abatemarco says:

    Cedar, not pine.

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