False Albacore
Typical Size
20-25" (5-10 lbs.)
Decent Size
25-30" (10-15 lbs.)
Nice Size
30-35" (15-20 lbs.)
48.0" (35 lbs. 2 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

10 lbs.
Genus/Species Euthynnus alletteratus
Common Names Little Tunny, Albies, Bonito, Fat Alberts, Little Tuna
Hot Spots Cape Cod Bay, Cape Cod Canal, Offshore Canyons
Best Time September-October
Best Baits spoons, metal jigs, plastic squid
Best Method Trolling
False albacore vary in color from steel blue to a bluish/green on their upper sides, quickly becoming pale silver/white on their sides and underbelly. They are easily distinguished by also having wavy markings on their back above the lateral line and by having three to five very distinct black dots going from their pectoral fin to the mid-section of their body. A member of the tuna family, it is a heavy-bodied fish, shaped like a torpedo, with a slender and deeply forked tailfin. The teeth are small and conical. Like the other tunas, false albacore have no swimbladder and therefore must remain moving from the moment they're born or they will die.
False Albacore
False Albacore put up an incredible fight.
False Albacore come and visit us on the south shore only at the very tail end of hot summers, when the water temperature is at it's warmest. The prefer water temperatures in the 70s and can be found both inshore and offshore in fairly large schools. Voracious predators, false albacore feed at many levels of the water column on herring, squid, butterfish, sand launce, sardines, needlefish, jellyfish and crustaceans. I read somewhere that they feed on clupeids and tunicates. Look that up in you Funk & Wagnells. I do know that they also feed offshore on "floaters" - the discarded bycatch of commercial fishing draggers.

False Albacore range from basically here on the south shore all the way down to the coast of Brazil. However, they undergo seasonal migrations in these more northerly and southerly reaches of their range. They also can be found in offshore or inshore grounds, influenced by both temperature and food supply. The late summer migration to south shore waters tends to coincide with the warmest water temperatures of the season.

Spawning takes place in the summer in the open waters and in a very haphazard way. The females release millions of floating eggs in multiple batches and males swim by to fertilize them - all at a blinding rate of speed. The lifespan of false albacore is quick. Just 24 hours after fertilization, they are born. Within two days their yolk sac has been depleted and they begin hunting for their own food. By a month, they look like smaller adult versions. Within a year, they can reproduce. Rarely do they live ten years or more.

You can fish for false albacore with bait, however most fishermen use artificial lures when targeting this fish. If you want to use bait, live bait is best. Small hering, silversides, chubs, and even grass shrimp will work. Silversides are probably the most popular, but are not easy to obtain. They can be taken on cut bait such as squid and sand eels, but it is best to impart some action to even these baits. If you must use dead bait, minimize the amount of hardware and do not use any weight, letting the bait drift into a school of fish. Simply tie a weightless bait rig using a size 1/0 to 3/0 beak/baitholder hook.

The most popular method for taking false albacore is trolling. The most effective is trolling a hootchie rig and setting the boat troll speed between 4-6 knots. You'll have to adjust the depth of the rig depending upon which level of the water column they are feeding. This method is best when fish are in the area but their exact position is unknown. If they are found feeding on the surface, forget the troll and instead cast jigs and/or spoons and retrieve back so fast that the lure "skips" along the surface of the water. Fly fishermen also do quite well when there are schools of baitfish in the area such as herring or sand eels. Small white deceivers, sand eels, and epoxy patterns are the flies of choice.

Fishing for false albacore is part of an important recreational fishery that also incudes striped bass and bluefish. Less so here on the south shore of Massachusetts, but very important to charter boats on the Cape down to the Carolinas. The fight being so incredible that it is known to destroy light gear and the fish have been known to literally fight to the death. It has no commercial value as a food fish, being one of the oiliest and strongest tasting tunas. However, it is often used as bait for shark fishing and for lobster traps as well.