The Race to the Race

Justin Gedney R1
10-20-15 The Race To The Race
 
The time, 6:15 a.m. Location: Race Rock Light. There are
albies breaking everywhere. Where do I cast? "Just cast,
cast" Capt. Don Roberts yells. It's complete mayhem.I
cast behind the boat and bam! Eeeeee, my reel is
screaming and I see that orange stuff I haven't seen in a
while. The day had just started…

The day started off when we launched out of Pine Island
Marina, in Groton which is right near Bluff Point. It was
a foggy, cold, October morning. The weather forecast for
the day was rain in the morning with a little wind. Nah,
I never believe those weathermen anyway. The captain had
arrived, the boat was loaded, and the 20- foot center
console was pointed towards the Sluiceway, which is a
stretch of water located off Plum Island. The Sluiceway
had produced 18 False Albacore for the Capt. a week
before, so he knew I had high expectations.
Once we arrived at the Sluiceway
I got ready with a 9-weight loaded with a 350-grain sink
tip line with a pink anchovy pattern at the end of my
leader. It didn't look too promising. Two foot waves and
a stiff, 15 m.p.h. wind out of the east. The Capt. wasted
no time changing course and getting us to our new
destination. 10 minutes later we ended up at Race Rock
Light. It is located off Race Point of Fisher's Island.
Again it didn't look too promising. We
decided to try trolling until the action picked up. And
it did. I let some line out and bam… Eeeeee my reel was
screaming and I was a happy person. I got the fish
boated and it was a 10-pound false albacore. The fish was
spitting up handfuls of bay anchovies which were about 2
inches long. We trolled through the same spot for
another hour picking up a fish every time between my
father and I. All you had to do was cast literally
anywhere around the boat or let all 90 feet of your line
out behind the boat while in gear.

Not sorry to say that I was
higher on the scoreboard than my father. Well, I won't
say by how much because…Well I was up by 5 or 6.Anyway,
as the tide slowed so did the fishing. They randomly
popped up here and there.The captain said we were going
to move to another spot. We ended up close to shore off
Wilderness Point which is just northeast of Race Light.
There was a school of albies moving very fast which made
it hard to get into. Once we got into the pod, refusal
is about the only thing I caught.They were moving so fast
they probably didn't see my fly and would have only ate
if it was place right in front of their face. You see a
lot of people "Run n' Gun" when fishing for false
albacore. It may be the right thing to do if the fish are
scattered and not showing in the same place, but it's a
lot easier to stay and drift around an area. A lot of
times when you take off the fish pop up in your wake.

Capt. Don suggested changing
flies. I replaced my pink anchovy imitation with a blue
anchovy pattern. It proved to be a good choice. Just
after I had changed flies there was a huge bass blitz up
tight against the rocks on the shore. The two of us
picked up a few 20-25 inch bass each. In the process Don
cut himself pretty good on a fish's gill plate when
taking the hook out. You know you got a good guide when
they start bleeding for you. The tide turned and we went
back to the same spot by Race Light. It was total
mayhem. Fish were everywhere. Now I got to put that blue
anchovy pattern to use. Of course I only had one of those
flies with me and it seemed to be the only thing working.
I boated Four or five fish on the fly. After that I was
exhausted. I tried to grab a soda and sandwich out of
the cooler and was deprived of both items by Don. If I
remember right his exact words were, " You ain't taking a
break and eating until the fish are gone". I knew if I
didn't get back up and fish I would be regretting it
later. So I got back up, picked up my 9-weight and
started fishing again. Every time I threw a fly in the
water you would get a fish. By that time it was 2:30, the
birds and fish had gradually left, but the excitement and
feeling of accomplishment was still there. I finally got
to enjoy that sandwich and soda and sit back and relax on
the way back to the dock. At that point I didn't seem to
care if I caught another fish the rest of the year. It
will be a day of fishing I will always remember.
 

Techniques

There are many ways and different types of equipment you
can use to catch false albacore along the Connecticut
shore. The first thing you need is a rod. 9 and 10-weight
rods are the way to go. They provide the strength and
lifting power you need to get those albies landed and
released in a considerable amount of time. The next
important piece of equipment is a good reel. A reel is
needed that can hold at least 200 yards of backing. You
should carry an intermediate and sink-tip or full sink
line. If the fish are staying on the surface in an area
for a good amount of time the intermediate would be best.
For the days when the fish are down as fast as they are
up the sinking line would be a good choice. It allows you
to get your fly to the fish quickly and down to where
they are. For a leader, 20-pound monofilament or
fluorocarbon is sufficient. You should always carry a
variety of flies. Anchovy patterns, surf candies, and
clouser minnows are a must. There's some days that you
will have to use deceivers that are up to 5 inches long,
so carry those too.
.

You don't want to fight them too long which will cause
the build up of lactic acid in the fish, therefore the
result is death. The proper way of releasing a false
albacore is head first. Hold them by the tail with their
head towards the water and drop them from a few feet in
the air. This forces oxygen through the gills.

Where and When?

The Race Rock area holds false
albacore from around September 15 through the middle of
October. The fish are in heavy for two weeks between
September and October. The Sluiceway also holds false
albacore every year. Usually they first show up in
August. Last year in 2000, the Sluiceway had albacore
from August strong into November. Then they moved to
Millstone Power plant where they stayed into
December.Last summer in July between 3 of us we landed
more than 45 stripers in 4 hours. None under 25" and a
lot up to 32". The waters surrounding Race Light and Race
Point produce stripers, false albacore, blues, and the
occasional skipjack tuna. When the action is hot it's
hot. Around Fisher's Island is another producer for bass
and albies. Along Isabella Beach is a good late season
spot. Last year in November the bass and albies were in
tight to the shore.

Connecticut is a great fishery. When I
sit back and think about living somewhere other than
Connecticut I just can't picture it. Most people don't
realize the opportunities the Connecticut coastline has
to offer. You can't possibly see it all or do it all in
one week or one year. The fishing is good from spring to
fall. It is best during the fall when the bass, blues,
and false albacore are here. Everyone should get a
chance to visit Connecticut and fish it's beautiful
shoreline.

By: © Justin Gedney

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