Funny Times: Albacore, Bonito, Spanish Mackerel


September marks the end of the summer doldrums and the start of the fall run. Top of my fishing list this month are funny fish, i.e. false albacore, bonito, and Spanish mackerel. To review, last year saw an incredible run of false albacore in Nantucket Sound in September.

The albies showed up by mid-August, but their numbers were not strong until September. Bonito were thick at the Hooter south of Martha’s Vineyard by the end of July, but much less prevalent in Nantucket Sound except for some of their usual spots at Martha’s Vineyard. Spanish mackerel reports were far and few between in 2012, however, in 2011 I found them in Buzzards Bay over a short window. Last year Buzzards Bay was pretty dead by most accounts as it appeared that a ‘rust tide’ of red algae carpeted the surface of the Bay.

As I write this article in mid-August, I have only heard of a couple bonito and no albies caught in Nantucket Sound, but that could change any day. It sounds like there have more Albies caught at Plum Island on the North Shore than Nantucket Sound! The bonito were behind schedule at the Hooter, and while they showed up mid-August, they were not there in the numbers from 2012. The ‘Hooter’ is the whistle buoy that marks the entrance to Muskegot Channel between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. I am crossing my fingers about Buzzards Bay as there does not appear to be a rust tide.

For targeting funny fish, I tend to do a lot of run and gunning along Buzzards Bay, the south side of Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard until I find actively feeding fish. On the rising tide I focus my efforts along open beaches and shorelines, while on the dropping tides I target outflows from harbors and bays as baitfish are swept out. I like to set up drifts over where I find fish breaking as constantly chasing a school can be an exercise in futility. My favorite lures for casting include deadly dicks, Hogy epoxy minnows, sluggos, and small topwater. If you venture to the shoals of Nantucket Sound (e.g. Hedgefence) or the Hooter, trolling Yo-Zuri and Rebel Fastracs lures is usually the most productive method. Now is the time for funny fish and if you’re lucky maybe you will run into Spanish mackerel, blitzing stripers, or even a baby bluefin!