False albacore thick, with striped bass mixed in
Fishing for false albacore has been outstanding the last two weeks. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingston said, “There was mayhem out there with outstanding false albacore fishing. Some fish are being caught of Newport, Jamestown, in Narragansett at Scarborough Beach and Hazard Avenue, however, the major bite is at the Center Wall of the Harbor of Refuge and west to Watch Hill."
Capt. Ray Stachelek of Cast-a-Fly Charters said, “The hardtails finally hit Rhode Island. Newport already had a slug of them, now they are all along the coast in numbers. Point Jude, Charlestown, Watch Hill, Fishers, it's all going off now. Finally they have appeared. Also some nice 5-10 lb. stripers mixed in too.”
Both bonito and false albacore are hard to catch, but thrill fishermen with their furious runs, stripping line from light tackle and giving anglers a memorable fight.
Many times false albacore and bonito are mixed in with striped bass and bluefish. They can be caught from boat and shore with lures and even on the troll. Three types of lures are often used to catch false albacore including tin or metal lures such as Deadly Dick’s and Kastmaster lures; soft plastic lures; and metal jigs and epoxy lures/jigs that are weighed and designed to skim the upper portion of the water column or surface.
The shiny metal lures are traditional baits, however, they often have difficulty working the surface if that is where the fish are. Anglers are forced to move them quickly through the water to keep them high in the water column. Epoxy lures or jigs are often weighted so you can cast them far, but yet they can be worked on the surface, or lower in the water column.
The once to two once (Daddy Mac) jigs I have bought for false albacore fishing also work extremely well as bottom fishing jigs for scup, black sea bass, sea robins, dog fish and anything else that lives on the bottom. The Daddy Mac one once lure has been the best performing jig I have ever used. Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said, “Bottom fishing with light metal jigs (like Daddy Macs) has been outstanding. We have even caught tautog using the jigs.”
Now is the time to get out there and try to hook up with false albacore. Last year they were here the entire month of October into November as far North as Barrington Beach. No way of telling if this year will be a repeat of last year so get out there soon and try to catch one of these speedsters.
But for now, the false albacore bite is definably on.
How to identify, and are they good to eat
Local anglers often ask how do you to tell the difference between a false albacore and bonito… and are they good to eat. I mentioned this ‘how to tell the difference’ tip earlier this year but it is worth repeating.
Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) said, “I learned the difference between the two with a simple rhyme. Bonito have teeth and are good to eat. False albacore have no teeth and are no good to eat. Atlantic bonito (aka bonito) have solid lines along upper half running head to tail, and teeth. False albacore (aka falsies or little tunny) have broken/squiggly lines, spots below lateral line, and no teeth.”
Atlantic bonito are part of the same mackerel family (Scombridae) as tuna. Their meat has a darkish color and a firm texture, with a moderate fat content. The meat of young or small bonito can be of lighter color, close to that of skipjack tuna. They are often grilled or baked. However, false albacore are generally not taken for consumption by anglers and are usually released alive.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass, bluefish and false albacore. Cahill said, “Shore fishing for striped bass has been fair with school bass being caught with some keepers mixed at Pt. Judith and Matunuck. The bass bite at the North Rip and South West Ledge, Block Island, has been fair.” Angler Gil Bell of Charlestown said, “Last weekend I caught three striped bass all in the forty inch range, about 22 to 23 pounds. The fall run may be starting?” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said “Bluefish are all over Narragansett Bay in the six to ten pound range. A wave of pogies came in and the bluefish with striped bass mixed in have come into the bay.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We have bluefish and school striped bass with some keepers mixed in underneath the bluefish North of Prudence Island so this is a good sign that they have infiltrated the bay. They seem to be chasing peanut bunker. Customers are also seeing (and some are catching) the elusive false albacore in the lower Bay and off Newport in the Ft. Adams area.”
Black sea bass and cod. Ferrara said, “Bottom fishing for black sea bass and scup is good at Newport and around the Jamestown Bridge.” Cahill said, “The black sea bass bite at the Block Island Wind Farm is fair with a lot of the large fish already picked over but it is a lot better off Matunuck and along the coastal shore. We have had some reports of a good early morning cod fishing at Shark Ledge (three miles southeast of Block Island).” Angler Paul Boutiette said, “Saturday we fished Cox Ledge for cod. On a small piece of clam a nice 18.75 lb., 35 1/2" monster cod grabbed on. I let the fish do the work and eased him up and ten minutes later, it felt like an hour, we landed the fish. We added some nice BSB to the cooler as well.”
Tautog fishing in the bay has been fair at some low water spots off Hope Island, Quonset and at General Rock said Ferrara. Cahill said, “It is a little early for tautog, no reports of a major bite yet. Macedo said, “Keeper tautog are being caught in the Warren River and in Mt. Hope Bay with scup being caught around the bridge too.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.