Inshore anglers should circle Oct. 16 on their calendars because that’s when the full moon occurs and the best Spanish mackerel and false albacore bite sizzles in the waters off North Carolina’s Cape Lookout.
“Spanish will be mixed in with albacores, and they both feed on glass minnows and anchovies, real small stuff,” said guide Noah Lynk of Harkers Island. “Lots of times they’ll be close, in calm waters, from the shoreline out to 2 miles off the beach.”
The key to successful fishing is a northeast wind that shelters the area from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle.
“Most locals try to catch Spanish (to eat), but we also get a lot of fly fishermen from up north who want to catch albacores that can weigh from 2 to 30 pounds,” said Lynk (252-342-6911).
Versatile spinning tackle includes 7-foot rods, 3000 to 4000 series spinning reels spooled with 12-pound braid and glass-minnow imitators that attract Spanish mackerels and albacore.
“We cast a lot for Spanish,” Lynk said. “Some people use metal baits, but I really like Salty Bay Glass Minnows in clear color with copper flakes on 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jigheads.”
Lynk said two MirrOlures designed for spotted seatrout, MirrOMinnow and MirrOGlass, also catch Spanish and trout. Sea Striker makes gold and silver surf spoons, like the old Castmasters, that also catch Spanish and albacores.
Although this tackle setup allows anglers to fling light jigs and soft-plastic minnows a surprising distance, Lynk said long casts usually aren’t needed to reach albacore or Spanish mackerel.
“You’ll come up on a pod, and they’ll be only 15 to 20 yards away,” he said. “On a calm day, it’s easy to get a glass minnow in front of them. Sometimes when (a lure) hits the water they’ll hit it immediately. If they don’t, you throw, let it sink, then rip. Spanish and albacores usually look for something running from them.”
Hooked Spanish mackerel won’t make long runs, but big albacores are a different kettle of fish.
“You got to be ready to chase,” Lynk said. “It’s tough when you get two hookups at the same time that go in different directions. They take drag, so you got to pick one to chase. For the other fish, that means working the drag, getting their heads turned, then pumping and reeling.”
After fighting two or three albacores, most anglers are ready to try Spanish, Lynk said.