by Andy Schneider
Swimbaits for Albacore
There is nothing better than catching any fish with the lightest tackle possible and still being able to land the fish. This applies to Albacore fishing too; nothing beats almost getting beat by a hard fighting Tuna! If you have ventured over the 125-line before, you most likely know that using Swimbaits is must in August and through September.
Interview with an Albacore
Trying to figure out what size, color and shape of Swimbait to use can be tough. At times Albacore can be boat shy and will sound to depths when they sense a boat within a 100-yards and other times, the Albacore will charge across your prop wash and inhale your beat-up Swimbait that has caught 5 fish before this one. Why is there such a drastic difference at times? There are plenty of theories floating around on internet forums why these fish behave so different. To get the true answer, you simply need to ask an Albacore. Okay, so there is no way to interview an Albacore.....yet, though Ron Popeil is getting close. But we can take a look at the contents of an Albacore's stomach to get a lot of our answers.
A lot of times a Albacore will start to regurgitate it's stomach contents during a prolonged battle. This regurg' will show what it just got done eating before dining on your Swimbait. If the Albacore doesn't 'volunteer' it's stomach contents for you, you can easily open up the stomach and see what groceries they have been feeding on. More than likely you will find; squid and Candlefish, with Anchovies, Mackerel and Sardines rounding out their diet. With the current diet of Oregon Albacore confirmed, you can 'Match the Hatch' and increase your success ratio drastically.
Matching the Hatch
Anchovies are one of the most mimicked bait fish when it comes to Albacore fishing off the west coast. But if the Albacore are feeding on Candlefish instead of Anchovies, there is a big difference, about 1- to 2-inches in bait size. So you need to downsize your offering to properly match what the tuna are feeding on. You can do this by buying freshwater bass swimbaits. What? Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass lures for Albacore? Yep, next time your at your favorite tackle store, slink over to the Bass section and you will be amazed at how many and how lifelike this tackle section is. Swimbaits have not only taken the Saltwater market by storm, they have been going like gangbusters in the freshwater bass market, nation wide. The freshwater Bass market has a much larger consumer base than us West Coast Albacore fisherman; so they have much more to offer in the swimbait market, and Albacore definitely don't seem to mind that the bait was manufactured for freshwater instead of salt.
To get your smaller offering to the Albacore, takes a lighter line and lighter action rods. 20-pound fluorocarbon or fluorocarbon highbred are a must when casting to spooky fish and using a light action saltwater spinning rod works great for 40- to 50-yard casts.
Largemouth Bass Swimbaits, not just for 'bucketmouths'!
When Albacore get picky later in the season, it pays to have the most realistic lure to match what these fish are currently feeding on. Even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone and heading to the 'Freshwater section'!