When false albacore feed, they "erupt" from the water in a violent tumult, members of the school leaping full-body from the water. The sight incites within the fisherman a corresponding frenzy, a heart-palpitating desperate urgency to race to the blitz, to cast and pray and cast again.
False albacore belong to the tuna and mackerel family. Also known as "funny fish" and "little tunny," they look like a small tuna, and in our range they grow to 5 - 10 lbs. They're brightly colored and very fast, strong swimmers. They are regarded as a sport fish, a challenge to hook, a thrill to land - but not particularly edible.
And they are capricious. A migrating species, they arrive in our waters usually near the end of August or beginning of September. Only, some years they don't show up much at all. Or maybe they appear only in a few isolated spots. But not this year. This year has brought a bonanza of false albacore, as they appear in seemingly unprecedented numbers. Reports of false albacore have come from almost every side of Martha's Vineyard, along the Cape coast from South Cape Beach to Woods Hole, and (yes, there's more) along both sides of Buzzards Bay and into the Cape Cod Canal.
Wednesday afternoon off Surf Drive Beach in Falmouth, seven separate blitzes were visible at one moment - truly a fantastic display.
How long will they stick around? Only the fish know. But you will want to get out there while you can.
As a side note, you may be wondering just how inedible a fish they are. On Martha's Vineyard, the folks at the HungryNative website decided to test the question. They grilled false albacore and found it... meh.
In the audio posted above, you'll hear my conversation with On The Water magazine editor Kevin Blinkoff about this week's memorable false albacore bite. Also, you'll find a roundup of this week's fishing action (it's not all false albacore), including striped bass up to 40lbs, and plenty of good bluefish action. The round-up starts at 4:36. Give it a listen.