Albie Fever in an Old Town Sportsman PDL
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Albie Fever in an Old Town Sportsman PDL

Albie Fever in an Old Town Sportsman PDL

There is no fish that we target in the Northeast as electrifying, frustrating, and fever-inducing as the false albacore. Each September, as the young-of-the-year baitfish pour out of the estuaries, rivers, and bays, false albacore, or “albies,” approach our shorelines, well within reach of the shore, kayak, and small boat fisherman. All attention previously focused on other inshore gamefish quickly shifts to the elusive false albacore. What is it about the albies’ arrival that incites such hysteria amongst the fishing community? What spell do these fish hold over us? We start with the fight. Hard strikes, instantaneous forty-mile-per-hour changes in direction, and impossibly long drag runs are sure to make an albie-liever out of anybody. Another draw is the visual nature of the feeds. You won’t soon forget padding or pedaling up to your first National Geographic-style blitz of albies on peanut bunker. A pod of albies on the feed is unlike any blitz we encounter inshore in the Northeast.

Frenetic slashes through churning whitewater, baitfish flying into the air, neon green backs buzzing through the oncoming waves—these are visuals that tend to imprint into our brains. But the true reason for the insanity that erupts around these fish is the short window of time in which they grace us with their presence. They’re here for a month—two if we’re lucky. If we don’t fish when we can, they’ll be gone, and we’ll be left to face the cold winter wishing we got just one more chance to feel the rush that only an albie can bring. The word most often uttered in conversations between fellow albie anglers is “frustrating.” In most cases, these fish will be fast-moving and finicky, a combination that leads to many zero-fish days.

The quiet, stealthy nature of an Old Town Sportman PDL driven kayak makes it the perfect method for targeting these fussy fish. Where a boat motoring loudly up to slashing fish will often put a school down for good and gone, the PDL drive allows the angler the ability to slip next to the school unnoticed and throw a lure into the fray. Where shorebound anglers are forced to remain on a particular jetty or beachfront, a kayak gives the angler the mobility to move to more productive areas and concentrations of bait. The Old Town Sportsman PDL line of kayaks are a gamechanger when it comes to targeting albies from the yak. Fishing for albies requires constant searching, moving, and repositioning. The PDL drive gives the angler the freedom and maneuverability to find and stay on the feeds longer. The automatic reverse allows the angler to quickly reposition when the school pops up behind you, or to reverse when the fish runs right at you (as they so often do during the fight). Finding and landing albies from a kayak takes a two-pronged attack comprised of equal parts absolute stealth and immediate power. A feeding school can pop and drop within seconds, and you’ll need a kayak that can shift from making micro-adjustments near a blitz to going all out as fast as possible to find the next pod of frothing chaos. Hop in an Old Town Salty PDL or Sportsman BigWater 132 PDL and you’re immediately in the game.

Now you just need to dial in the right conditions and hit the salt. Choppy seas and gray days mean prime albie weather. A stable and safe kayak is of the utmost importance when targeting albies on a blustery fall day. The Old Town Sportsman PDL line offers an unmatched ride to cut through the chop and beat out the other kayaks to the feed, as well as a stable platform to keep you upright while fighting a speedster. Also, the stability factor of the Old Town Sportsman Line of PDL’s allows anglers to easily stand and sight cast into these schools of rocketing speedsters.

Top Albie Tips

  • When you can’t go smaller, go larger
    • When albies are keyed in on small “cloud” bait, matching the hatch becomes nearly impossible. Instead of going smaller, use a lure that will stand out and attract attention. An unweighted Albie Snax or a small Zara Spook will often draw strikes when other more realistic lures fail.
  • Change lures and colors often
    • If you get two to three shots into a feed and don’t hook up, switch out your lure. Often, a simple change in lure weight, colorway, or profile will trigger the bite. When you find the magic combination, it can turn into a banner day.
  • Use long, light leaders and non-slip loop knots
    • Albies feed using their exceptional eyesight. This means that you’ll want to use a 6- to 9-foot leader of 15-pound test fluorocarbon. If the water is calm, downsize to 12-pound test. Long leaders will ensure you don’t “line” the fish when casting past the school.
  • Don’t chase the feeds (unless you really have to)
    • Pedaling to each separate feed is rarely going to present with prime albie opportunities. Instead, make note of where the fish are popping up, and try to position yourself in the best possible position by forecasting their direction. Chasing after schools will result in the dreaded whack-a-mole phenomenon.
  • Vary your retrieve
    • While a jig skipped across the surface has long been the most popular retrieve, a reel-pause-reel retrieve will often get the bites when the fish are finicky. If the fish are focused on a visible bait ball, try casting to the edge and letting the jig sink for a few seconds. This will also work with unweighted soft plastics.

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