Written by: Connor Tapscott
I clenched the salty, cork handle of my rod anxiously as we sped off toward the sight of splashing on the horizon. The water bubbled with small fish being pushed toward the ocean’s surface and torn to shreds by the shiny speed demons we were hunting. As we slowly approached I stripped out my line and prepared to cast my small minnow pattern out into the feeding frenzy.
A flash of silver was all I could see as the fish shot out of nowhere and smacked my fly at lightning speed. The excess line on the deck of the boat snapped up to the reel, out the guides, and into the blue in an instant. A symphony of screaming reels began as three of us hooked up to these missiles at once. The fish swam in every direction, while rods and anglers did circles around the center console, weaving over and under each other in some sort of chaotic, ungraceful ballet.
Before I knew what had happened, my fly line had turned into backing. I fought hard to regain my line and land the fish before the massive number of sharks, lurking beneath the boat, had their way with everything on the end of my line. After constantly losing and gaining back line, I got a glimpse of chrome swimming under the boat. I pulled it away from the shark in pursuit and lifted the false albacore out of the water by its strong tail.
This time of year, the albies off the beaches of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, move in to feed on schools of bait leaving the safety of the shallows. This mixture of bait, sharks, false albacore, and big red drum creates a unique display of the food chain in action. This allows for some awesome opportunities to put a big bend in a rod and tighten down the drag. Hooking up to an albie with just a thin rod and fly line is an experience of pure, natural power that an angler won’t soon forget.
Connor Tapscott is a photographer who lives in Richmond, Virginia.