This albie season has been anything but ‘business and usual’ with a massive void in the fishery that really never filled in. The fish have stayed out of Buzzards Bay and eastern Rhode Island for the most part, settling in Vineyard Sound, along the South County shoreline in Rhode Island, Long Island Sound and North Jersey. The lack of fish in Buzzards Bay and eastern Rhody really took it’s toll on the entries this year, especially those that fish from shore.
Of course, an overactive machine of tropical systems didn’t help, with hurricane Henri battering the shores right as the albies were showing up, then the remnants of Ida packed a surprising punch roiling waters once again and stealing valuable fishing days. Next up was hurricane Larry, spinning hundreds of miles offshore, he still managed to send in some of the largest waves we’ve seen along the RI shoreline in at least a decade. It may have been the timing of these weather events that kept the albies compartmentalized in these regional hotspots and kept the 2021 season from seeing a widespread movement of fish. There is light on the October horizon though, as it seems like the Northeast fishery is enjoying a second sunrise as our shootout comes to an end.
Todd Treonze with an early entry for the boat division.
The tournament itself was a rollercoaster ride that seemed to shadow the wave heights as the weeks wore on. In the early-going the shore game was flatlining and those fishing from some kind of vessel were only posting meager results, in fact there were only four anglers active in the first 10 days of the tourney—Joe Mulvey and Chris Neves in the Kayak Division and Todd Treonze and Sean Hughes in the Boat Division. But it wasn’t until hurricane Larry’s massive waves came and went that the fishing really started to catch fire.
Chase Freiman with his category winning bonito.
With the seas still roiled and confused albie hunters took on the challenge and found their Hail Mary runs to the Breachways and Watch Hill were bearing fruit; suddenly we began seeing shore entries again. Some of the most notable shore entries were the 26-inch bonito caught by Chase Freiman which ended up carrying the bonito category through the end of the event. At the same time Ray West notched the category leader for spanish mackerel which also held up until the end.
Chris Neves with one of two 28-inch albies he entered into
the 2021 Albie Shootout
Within the scope of that same week we saw a flood of entries from an array of anglers. We saw upgrade after upgrade from last year’s Shootout winner, Patrick Hay, we saw a valiant shore effort from Durbin Wells and we saw the first of two 28-inch abies logged by kayaker Chris Neves—that fish would lead the ‘largest albie’ category through the final day. It was an exciting week, with reports coming in from all over the Northeast, it seemed like a wave swept through eastern Rhode Island as some fish were taken inside the Sakonnet River, then Sachuest, then Brenton Point, then Fort Getty, then the West Wall… but those fish stayed on the move and, before long, seemed to be lost among the entrenched population between Quonny and Watch Hill. At the same time, we began hearing reports from northern New Jersey, they were seeing a wave of albies as well. A technical issue reared it’s ugly head at the most inopportune time on that Friday, an internet service outage struck and our tournament update never posted. Please accept our humble apology for leaving the wires quiet for too long.
Late inning heroics by Todd Bellem secured his 2021 win!
As we rounded the bend into the final week it was looking like Patrick Hay might repeat as the champion for the boat division, Durbin Wells would take the crown for the shore guys and Chris Neves was sitting pretty in the ‘yak division, although he was in danger if Joe Mulvey could post a third and a solid upgrade. In the end the only upgrade to the Kayak Division was a second 28-incher posted by Chris Neves, casting his kayak win in stone for 2021. The same could not be said for the shore and boat divisions. In the final week of the Shootout two dark horse candidates emerged—Todd Bellem in the boat division and Max Eicott from the shore. Together they shattered the hopes of both frontrunners with 9th inning rallies for the ages. Bellem posted a flurry of fish numbering close to 10 in total, his three largest were 26, 26 and 27 inches besting sitting champion Patrick Hay by one inch! Max Eicott logged three albies measuring 24, 26 and 26 inches which put him three inches ahead of Durbin Wells for the shore division lead. He also posted a 23-inch bonito, just to stay in shape.
The 2021 Shootout was maybe not what we all hoped it might be, but what it may have lacked in consistency was more than made up for in dramatics. Here’s to hoping for a better season in 2022 and a bigger and better shootout as well! Here’s the final winners circle for 2021.
Rod and Reel Division - Prizes from St. Croix, Shimano and Daiwa
Kayak Division: Chris Neves – 28, 28, 27 – 
Boat Division: Todd Bellem – 27, 26, 26 – 
Shore Division: Max Eicott – 26, 26, 24 – 
Largest Division Winners = $50 Saltwater Edge Gift Card
Largest Albie: Chris Neves – 28 inches
Largest Bonito: Chase Freiman – 26 inches
Largest Spanish Mack: Ray West – 23 inches
Plus three additional winners from a random drawing of the Shootout participants who did not place.
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