Albies love flies. A sure sign of the approaching fall fishing blitz is the large schools of false albacore and baby tunny feeding heavily on plentiful maturing baitfish, especially in gulf passes. Either a strong incoming or outgoing tide will have these speedy torpedoes chasing baitfish to the surface in areas that will attract terns and gulls, causing chaos. The birds will tell you where to fish. This is ideal fly rod fare and can be almost too easy to do by observing just a few rules. Running an outboard into the school will ruin your chances of success, so use the wind and tide to position your boat ahead of the surface activity, letting the fish come to you. An electric motor run slowly is a big help to get a good position. Jacks, ladyfish and mackerel will be mixed in with the albies taking advantage of the easy pickings. The wild surface activity usually contains the smaller fish, so getting your fly deeper will result in larger fish. Use a 9-weight fly rod with a full sinking or sink-tip fly line. Four or 5 feet of 25-pound hard monofilament leader will be attached to a size 2 white baitfish pattern made of synthetic materials rather than natural hair for durability. You can't retrieve the fly too fast. Many anglers put the rod under one arm and retrieve using both hands in hand-over-hand fashion after making a long cast. Using 150 yards of 30-pound backing gives you the advantage when the fish make long runs. A good large arbor reel with smooth adjustable drag is necessary. A pair of binoculars helps locate diving birds and extends your area of visibility.
Fly Fisherman Pat Damico charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.