False Albacore are easily the pickiest fish we have here in the North East which is one of many reasons why they are so sought after. I love a fish that’s hard to catch from the surf so when September rolls around all I can think about are these little tunas but before albie season even starts I always make sure that I am stocked up on EXO Jigs. Picking the right jigs can be a daunting task but here is a straightforward breakdown to think about before heading into your local tackle shop.
Keep in mind the conditions you are fishing! Before I even get to the water I’m checking weather to see the wind and sea state forecast as well as if there will be overcast conditions. I always start my mornings with some sort of natural color that matches the prevalent baitfish for the area and then transition into brighter, more obnoxious colors as the sun gets higher in the sky (I’ll get to fishing in overcast or stormy conditions in a bit). If you don’t know what baitfish are around take a simple stroll along the beach before you start fishing, you’ll most likely run into some sort of baitfish running the beach. My general rule of thumb is to change colors some time by 9am. After then I’ll most likely have a bone, pink, or chartreuse colored EXO Jig tied on. My reason for this is now that there is more light in the water the albies have a far better visual on what your presentation looks like, so instead of trying to go all natural I want to trigger them with big and bright colors.
Now let’s introduce windy and or overcast conditions to the situation. The beginning of a windy front has to be my favorite conditions for albie fishing because it stirs up all the bait but hasn’t screwed up the water clarity yet. I’ll tie on almost exclusively a large bone colored EXO Jig in this instance. The solid white is very visible in dirty water whereas a very natural flashy pattern won’t be seen because light won’t pass through the murky water as much. I go with a larger EXO Jig as well because it makes more commotion on the surface which will get noticed in the bigger waves. Now if it’s overcast with very little wind I’ll stick with a natural pattern just as I would in the early hours of the morning.
All this gets thrown out of the window when fishing a blitz! Most of the time I’m blind casting but when a blitz occurs I’ll try and match the bait but add a slight twist to the pattern. Perhaps I’ll tie on an EXO Jig that is a little bit larger or has slightly brighter colors than the baitfish so that my presentation stands out ever so slightly.
Even though I follow these general guidelines pretty strictly, albies are called “funny fish” for a reason. Sometimes they want something completely different than what I would normally throw for a given situation so don’t be afraid to switch lures. But do keep in mind this general guideline next time you are out albie fishing or at the tackle shop because this has helped me keep my sanity when I’m trying to figure out what is my next play to catch the elusive false albacore!