When it comes to Crystal Coast Albacore – 2009 is one of the years we’re going to talk about for a decade. This year the albacore showed up in August, were reliable all September and busted wide open in November. Combined with the persistent and consistent north winds, it carried into November and got better and better and BETTER. It was wide open and non-stop just about every day through the middle of the month when the remnants of tropical storm IDA decided to dump about 10 inches of rain on us.
While the fishing was definitely slower post-IDA, most of our days would have been considered good days in past years with good shots at fish on the beach in the week following – and it was wide-open again a week following the storm. While the weather followed its usual pattern and got more inconsistant as we got closer to Thanksgiving day, we still experienced very good albacore fishing all the way through the end of the month!
Like I said – 2009 was the best false albcore year I have ever experienced and was clearly at par, or better, than the “glory days” of the late 90s. Many of the old salts say it was the best year since the 80s/90s when just about nobody was fishing for them!
While I spend 95% of my time chasing albies, the trout fishing was decent and we had some great days with the reds in the marsh.
John and Phil really know how to pick ’em – but I will go out on limb and say they are being rewarded for a lifetime dedicated to conservation. They rang in the beginning of November with a truly epic day – bait balls and fish that stayed on top all day, non-stop, from the instant we left that inlet at 7am till we went in at dark. They can tell you how many they caught on the fly because I sure can’t remember the number – it was a lot. They were tired. As good as it gets. The end.
Paul and Briton had a great afternoon – we sat out the morning due to 25kt winds, spent some time looking and it busted wide open middle of the afternoon. Big pods of fish crushing silversides. I left my camera in the skiff but they sent me a photo to make the site!
Round two this fall with John – but this time he brought the man that all fish fear – Ol’ Burt . He came charging with fly rod in hand and swiftly conquered an albie, trout – and on our third day I finally got his fly in front of some reds. With a cold front bearing down the reds left the shallows…but we found them stacked up in a shallow hole in the lee of a small island and we hooked up into some screaming upper-slot fish. Burt had the hot hand landing several nice fish andd breaking off a beast that took him well into his backing – he was also kind enough to let John catch one! Burt landed his first decent redfish of his fishing carear and we was quite impressed – that’s saying a lot coming from a guy who’s caught more atlantic salmon (on fly) than I thought existed. Always great to have you.
…then it was three days with the boys from the vineyard before IDA wrecked our party. I lvoe fishing with these guys – fly, spin they do it all and are happy with everything and whatever presents itself. As much as they fish and as self-sufficient as they are it’s almost (but not quite!) a vacation for me! We crushed the albies for three straight days. Crushed them. We also got into some Jacks on the wreck on poppers, caught several big sharks and landed the biggest red drum I have ever seen in my life (measured boatside between 62 and 65″). The best fishing we had was our blind casting – hours just drifting, tossing topwaters and dredging flies with albies crushing our baits every other cast. These guys also introduced me to the Rebel Jumping Minnow – a lure which I would not have given a second thought to. Watching the albies react to it is mesmerizing. I have put a dozen in my tackle bow – just put it at that. Always a pleasure y’all!
The Campbell crew – or the “you should been here 4 days ago” or “can you stay 1 extra day” crew. This has been there story for several years and while the fishing wasn’t as good as the pre-ida blizes, we have nothing to complain about most part. We had gorgeous weather for two days and had workable numbers of fishing chasing small spearing on the beach and tidelines. We all managed a fish on fly on the first day, losing several. It could have been worse (because last year was!)! Great having y’all!
Mike and Cathy made their annual trip for albies – last year they hit it pretty good (lucky) and this year they came out pretty well despite some tough weather and tougher fish. It was howling out of the north (20+) for both days and with the water temperature still lingering in the mid to upper 60s, the albies decided to switch their diet over to micro-baits and thus become very hard to hook. Truth be told, they were still pretty aggressive – you just had to get the fly in front on them and give it fast strip. With the wind it just took a good cast and perfect boat maneuvering – Mike had no problem getting it in there. We did quite well on day 2 and Cathy was able to land her fish albie ever! Awesome guys!
One thing I like so much about fall is that I usually get to see some of my oldest, and best, clients – people who love to fish and love the sport in its entirety. Beth and Dave and the next generation of fishin fools, andrew, are no exception and I was so happy to be closing out my season with them. We had a crazy day. First it was calm. Then it was windy. Then rainy. Then calm again. All while 65+ degrees in November. After catching a bunch of gray trout, we found big pods of albie skimming micro bait off the surface right outside the hook. It took a little figuring out – while they would eat a maria or stingsilver fairly readily – they would absolutely crush a jumpin’ minnow surface plug. We had multiple fish skying on each bait often throwing it 2-3 feet out of the water – some of the best surface strikes you could ever hope to see. We even had one fish miss the plug and run into the side of the boat!
Not just that but we found a lost red drum and got to see a Whale! First of that Beth has ever seen!
Thanks again guys for such a wonderful closure to such a wonderful year. See ya in June!
During thanksgiving week, the humpback whales decided to show and I saw 1 at least every day I was on the water that week! Saw several off of Atlantic Beach and several on the east side of the shoals. I was hoping to see a Right Whale but didn’t lucky this year. Always an amazing site – you should have seen how excited Dr. Beth was. First whale she’s ever seen! Worth the price of admission right there!