For some reason albie fishing brings out the worst in inshore anglers. I can often go an entire season with fewer frustrations than I do in just one trip albie fishing. People can lose their calm, get hostile and competitive with these silly fish and make fishing not fun. So this season, I thought I’d take a few moments while I sip a couple Cisco Whale Tales and type a summary of the various conversations I’ve had over the years with our pro-staff on how to be a good albie team player.
NOTE: I am typing this on August 31st and I do have to say it is my experience thus far into the season that people have been very well behaved. But there’s at least another month of inshore albie fishing, which is plenty of time for frustrations to mount.
1. Do Respect Common Decency: Common decency on roads and sidewalks applies to the water. You wouldn’t cut someone off on the street or at your kid’s soccer game, you shouldn’t do that on the water.
2. Do Keep Calm: Seriously, calm the $%&*! Down. It’s easy to look like an idiot running around frantically. Frenzied angling will lead to bad knots, closed bail casts –and- worst of all, bad boating manners which will mess the fishing up for more people than just yourself. It’s just fishing. It’s a recreational fishery for fish with very little food value. Have fun. Relax.
3. Don’t be a Spooker: Running and gunning and charging into fish works for a short while but eventually spooks the fish. In my experience, random changes in RPMs disturbs albies and bait fish. Another reason to avoid this is the fact that schools that are visible on the surface often represent the top of a pyramid, with many more fish under water. As a result, if you charge up, you are possibly cutting your options to catch way down.
4. Don’t Be a Cutter: Do not position your boat between another boat and three cast lengths to a school. The other boat may be slowly (and properly) leading a school.
5. Don’t Be a Gunner: Never drive your boat into the actual school. Slow down to idle speed when within 3 cast lengths away. If you lead the school properly, and ideally, approach the school up wind, you can idle up slowly.
6. Do be an Idler: Approach the school slowly at constant RPMs. Best way to do this is to approach a school at quicker speeds from afar, get in front of it, and proceed more slowly as the school draws closer to your mark. Idlers catch more fish than gunners.
7. Do be a Drifter: When there are loads of fish and loads of boats, everyone is a winner if there is an agreement to make long drifts with the engines off. The albies will stay interested longer. Study the fish movements; they typically make patterned reoccurring runs through an area. So once you get the gist of the school, go up-wind or up-tide, kill the engine and drift. Don’t forget to blind cast. If you have the stamina to blind cast all day in this situation, you will increase your catch rate considerably.
8. Do go with the Flow: When in doubt, go with the flow. Yes, everyone has the same right to the ocean, but if a group a boats finds a natural rhythm that is working for everyone, please don’t deviate. For example, if everyone is drifting, don’t anchor or vice versa. If everyone is being a bully, just follow rule number one, and post videos of bad etiquette on Salty Cape. 🙂
9. Do share: If you have the opportunity to approach a school of fish with your spinning while another boat is approaching the same school with fly roads, it’s classy to let the fly guy get a head start. He or she has 1/3 the range of a spinning rod.
10. Watch your Back Cast: Fly guys take up a big footprint. Just because fly anglers have diminished range, it doesn’t mean you don’t have any responsibly for your actions. Please mind your back cast, and understand the value of knowing when to hold them and when to fold them on a school.