Albacore 2020?

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
Hasty prior post. What I mean't was that it is entirely possible I might buy flies. It has happened like twice. If I did buy an albacore popper that would be it.


I actually had a bunch of those with me, but I think they where the bigger version.
 

GOTY

8x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
I had read all of these tuna posts over the years but I still had no idea how truly awesome it would be. Just an unreal experience top to bottom, these fish and fishery are incredible. Can't put it into words.

COTY @Nick Clayton put on an absolute clinic, keeping us on fish consistently all day when the other boats were struggling. Based on the other boats this should have been a slooooow day but Nick crushed it for us. Granted between a COTY, a GOTY, and an Ira, the amount of raw talent on one boat was a bit unfair...but The Dream Team still received their gold medals for the 92' Olympics.

Hard to think of a more enjoyable day of fishing in my life, and this was certainly the best day I've had of any kind since COVID lockdowns.



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SilverFly

Active Member
I had read all of these tuna posts over the years but I still had no idea how truly awesome it would be. Just an unreal experience top to bottom, these fish and fishery are incredible. Can't put it into words.
With a GOTY post like this, I feel like my work here is done. :) And yes, great job by Nick putting you guys into scoring position when everyone else was struggling to get on the board. At this rate the days of getting weird looks for walking down the dock with a fly rod in hand will soon be history... if not already.
 
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GOTY

8x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
With a GOTY post like this, I feel like my work here is done. :) And yes, great job by Nick putting you guys into scoring position when everyone else was struggling to get on the board. At this rate the days of getting weird looks for walking down the dock with a fly rod in hand will soon be history... if not already.


Well done!!! What were the fish eating?
We're heading back out in two weeks for what we call "Westport: The Sequel".
Steve

Awesome, have fun. Jealous you get to go again!

So to answer your question, let me preface this by saying this was my first time ever doing this, so if someone like Nick (who has put in more days on this fishery than the rest of this forum combined) chimes in and contradicts something I say then listen to him.

Now that we have that out of the way, here's the deal. After 1 day I am obviously an expert tuna roper and the following should be treated as gospel. I just signed my book deal on fly fishing for tuna and we are looking at an early 2022 release for hardcover, and maybe by Xmas 2021 on e-readers. Bezos' people have reached out to me for exclusive rights on the Kindle, but I pushed him off until next week when my arm has recovered enough to pick up a phone.

There were 4 other sports (gear guys) with us, so we were trolling 3 gear rods and 2 fly rods at a time. My #'s might be a little fuzzy but we were hit on the troll in the ballpark of a dozen times (often with 2-3 rods going off at once). The fly rod was without a doubt the most consistent producer on the troll. Of those ~dozen times there was a troll bite, I think there was just 1-2 of them when my rod didn't get hit, and a # of the times the only hit came on the fly. I chalk this up to the bugs looking more realistic than the other shit.

Of course, it could also be my superior presentation when on the troll. A few times Nick had actually turned the boat a little bit and I got tatter totted, so technically I swung up a few Tuna. All my steelhead dry line swung fish clearly gave me an upper hand in how to properly present a swung fly on the troll. I feel bad for the albacore, they were simply outmatched with a proper swung fly in their face. I mean sure, they have dodged whales and sharks and dolphins and other mildly successful killing machines their whole life, but once they got called up to the big leagues and had to face a well presented swung fly they didn't stand a chance.

The troll hits were absolutely electric. I swing flies for steelhead because of the grab, but no steelhead has sent a jolt up my arm anything CLOSE to even the smallest of tuna. Just insane. Next trip I may just want to hire a masseuse to sit behind me rubbing my shoulder and arm while we are trolling around waiting for the next lightning bolt.

One thing I did notice was there were ~3 fish that didn't stick for me on the troll. I fished tube flies almost exclusively all day so I was able to adjust the hook placement with ease. Once I moved the hook placement further towards the head the conversion rate was solid. Again small sample size, but in my world class expert opinion that mattered. When I had a fly with a stinger hook on, all I got back after a hit was a chunk of fish gills, so the fish obviously took it too deep.

On bait stops the gear guys fishing live chovys did pretty well. No question about it that live chovys out fish flies on a stop. I really don't know how to overcome that: predatory fish like to eat shit that is alive. That doesn't mean flies don't work, but simply that when given the option between a live chovy and some feathers, I understand why a tuna would choose the live bait. One gutted fish easily had 30+ bait fish in its stomach. Granted this was a slow/low odds day: we never saw surface activity, and I only saw one single fish swimming around chasing my fly, so it just wasn't a good day for cast and strip....but still, the chovys were getting it done. I'd like to think that if it was a fly-only trip for everyone on the boat, then cast and strip would have been more effective because 1) more flies in the water and 2) less live chovys in the water that fish could hit instead of a fly. The smoke cover also made it hard to see deep into the water, so there could have been more action than I was seeing, but definitely nothing was boiling up on the surface.

Overall we held our own on the bug rods. Silverfly to your point, let the record show that COTY GOTY and IRA did their part to convert the good people of tunaville into knowing that us feather chuckers are not lepers. It was hilarious at times when I was up on the bow casting and overhearing the action coming from the deck. Hearing Ira take control and barking out directions for the tuna dance was incredibly entertaining. Which reminds me -- the dance is so damn fun. I need to work that program into the steelhead world ASAP. Swung fish on, just charge downstream going over/under everyone in the run. Nobody below you? Run upstream and go over/under the guys above you. Hell I may just find the nearest person to me and go over and under them repeatedly. I don't care, I just want to dance and I need a partner damnit.

Anyways, on the ride in the 4 guys admitted to being a bit nervous when they saw us show up with our own fly rods that morning. Once they saw us in action they had zero issues with it and they were asking a few questions -- their curiosity was definitely triggered. Naturally given the lack of near surface activity, the success on chovys during the bait stops, and being outnumbered 4:2 on gear:fly rods, the gear rods put more total fish in the boat. But again, we held our own.

Seriously though given the conditions and the lack of success from other boats (a boat that plugged in just 1-2hrs weeks ago only found 1 tuna this day), this day shouldn't have been as successful. 110% of the credit goes to COTY @Nick Clayton, he flat out got it done and was in a class of his own. Also thanks @DenWor54 for the lesson on tuna fly design, and the rest of you for the posts over the years. When you guys put together another bug trip hit me up!!
 
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SilverFly

Active Member
GOTY get's it ^^^ . Reading first time FF tuna revelations like this is more than I had hoped a year ago. I've been particularly looking forward to hearing first time tuna feedback from a hardcore steelhead swinger.

Sure, a crowded deck is about as far from standing nuts deep, swinging (current trolling?) a misty coastal river, but in many ways offshore is more of a true wilderness setting. And yeah, there's "the GRAB". Generally speaking I find trolling to be a boring endeavor at best, but there is something about holding the rod while dragging a fly in water a mile deep, hoping to hook fish capable of freeway speeds.
The fly rod was without a doubt the most consistent producer on the troll. Of those ~dozen times there was a troll bite, I think there was just 1-2 of them when my rod didn't get hit, and a # of the times the only hit came on the fly. I chalk this up to the bugs looking more realistic than the other shit.

I would also whole-heartedly agree with your observations about the effectiveness of trolling flies. Not always the case, but more often than not, flies seem to out fish standard troll lures. We know albacore will key on specific prey, and have no problems seeing details, even from a hundred feet or more below the boat. Match the hatch matters offshore.

Too bad the visual aspect wasn't good on this trip. Looking down into a bottomless blue aquarium with tuna zooming past your fly, and sharks, mackerel, ocean sunfish and other potential surprises milling around is the really addicting part for me. I've got to get some underwater footage one of these days.
 
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Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
I've taken a lot of first time tuna fishers out on the water this season alone, but seeing an experienced and skilled angler like GOTY experience it for the first time, and instantly fall in love with everything that is so amazing about the fishery was definitely a highlight of my season. I cant wait to read his book! I'll be pre ordering this evening.

I too noticed that the hook in the stinger position was not getting it done. I think it had more than 3 missed hits too. Regardless, its interesting because @bk paige fished a stinger fly tied by @DenWor54 for two days last month and it absolutely crushed fished. I dont remember any missed grabs. Wonder if they were attacking in a different fashion last month
 

SilverFly

Active Member
On bait stops the gear guys fishing live chovys did pretty well. No question about it that live chovys out fish flies on a stop. I really don't know how to overcome that: predatory fish like to eat shit that is alive. That doesn't mean flies don't work, but simply that when given the option between a live chovy and some feathers, I understand why a tuna would choose the live bait. One gutted fish easily had 30+ bait fish in its stomach. Granted this was a slow/low odds day: we never saw surface activity, and I only saw one single fish swimming around chasing my fly, so it just wasn't a good day for cast and strip....but still, the chovys were getting it done. I'd like to think that if it was a fly-only trip for everyone on the boat, then cast and strip would have been more effective because 1) more flies in the water and 2) less live chovys in the water that fish could hit instead of a fly. The smoke cover also made it hard to see deep into the water, so there could have been more action than I was seeing, but definitely nothing was boiling up on the surface.

This has been my greatest challenge since I first started chasing albacore. It's also what's driven me to OCD levels trying to come up with a passable anchovy imitation. Movement is a huge part of that equation. Unfortunately, profile and color is equally, if not more important.

Or I should say CAN be, in either case. In a WFO (Wide Full Open) bite, they will eat almost anything put in the water. I've only seen that one time on a sport commercial trip with tuna literally foaming at the boat. That took an incredible amount of live anchovies to get that going. Of course there are situations all along that "bite spectrum", from ravenous to won't touch a live anchovy that's missing a scale.

So yeah, figure out how to tie a fly that looks AND moves like a real anchovy and we might even out-fish the gear guys.
 

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