The common "party starters" for hardtail season is the small young of the year baits like bay anchovies, peanut bunker, and butterfish.
Typical Bay Anchovy - Newport RI
It could be worse! Photo Credit Joey Manansala
This collection of micro baits can be hard to identify and even harder to find an effective lure to imitate it. The anchovies and peanuts are tight schooling baits, and you can see the "bait balls" on the fish finder, and they can appear as dark brown/rusty patches in the water in the case of anchovies and as silver flashes as the broadsided peanut bunker catch the light.
These baits are tough to imitate and create an annually perplexing situation without one solution. So we conducted an unscientific survey to determine the "Top Five Lures for False Albacore". Here are the results.
Top Five Lures for False Albacore
1) Point Jude Po-Jee- The Po-Jee casts a mile, has a high-quality quality VMC Siwash hook, and is ass weighted, so it rides at an angle and stays in the water in front of the fish even when you "burn it" with a high speed retrieve. Other lure designs that are more like flat blades can flip flop along the surface and in and out of the water. The Po-Jee stays on the dinner plate. Money.
2) Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs- Ava Maria Jigs revisited. The guys at Hogy Lures nailed the recreation of a proven; but a discontinued winner. This lure looks awesome in the water as it refracts light through the epoxy finish coat. Most other small metals lack the quality VMC hardware of the SI Epoxy Jig. When you need to mix it up some of the "unnatural" colors like Electric Chicken or Pink can be the ticket. Use the larger sizes later in the fall as the herring and bunker grow an inch a month in late summer.
And the "Heavy" Minnow versions are great to get the distance you may want from the shore and for rough conditions when the albies can really chew.
3) Albie Snax - is a long-casting and long-lasting plastic with an unreal darting action. We also like the round design because each bait has more usable area than the flat-sided Sluggo or Hogy. Translucent Amber has cracked the code on picky albies, Bubble Gum stands out against a sea of bay anchovies and White has proven to be a great striper bait in the spring as well.
4) Deadly Dick - The "classic" lure for funny fish. The smaller 1L or .85 oz versions in silver or blue tape are the most popular. We would advise that you swap the poor quality treble for VMC treble or the VMC ILS or Owner Zo-Wireinline hooks. The design prevents the use of Tactical Angler Clips in the smaller sizes obligating you to connect to the swivel provided.
5) Game On EXO Jigs - The Game On EXO Jig has a durable EXO-skeleton construction for a natural translucent look and provides optimal light refraction while adding protection to the lure’s finish. Albies often bust tight to structure and a more durable resin is a benefit. The jigs have through-wired construction, 65lb split rings, and 4X VMC Hooks. Out of the package and ready to go. No need for hardware modifications. In every way, the EXO Jig is up to the job.
On Deck for 2020:
Fat Cow Fat Minnow Resin Jig - The Fat Cow Fat Minnow Epoxy Resin Jig is a rookie going into its first hardtail season. It is constructed from a very durable and reflective resin finish. What you will notice is the body is shaped differently than most other oblong and relatively flat epoxy style jigs. The Fat Cow Fat Minnow has wide shoulders and is more triangular in cross-section. It is going to be a good option when you need distance. Each jig comes with a 4X treble attached, but an inline hook is also included.
False Albacore Fishing Tips
Consider a Casting Egg to help deliver soft plastics and flies around bait balls and in picky situations.
Tom Richardson of New England Boating offers some tips on fishing for albies. Tom has been writing about New England fishing for years. Previously he was Editor of Saltwater Sportsman Magazine. Always good stuff from Tom.
Chasing albies with a fly rod? Check out this article on the top albie flies: https://saltwateredge.com/blogs/saltwater-edge/go-to-flies-for-false-albacore