Fly Fishing Cape Lookout, NC Most fishing conversations start with something like, “You should have been here yesterday.” Well, I finally got to be there “yesterday” and it was an epic day at Cape Lookout for false albacore on a fly rod.I have a friend in Wyoming who wrote in his outdoor column that October is the best month of the year. While sports fans are engrossed in football, the baseball playoffs, the start of hockey season and the prospect of basketball a month away, hunters are sighting in their rifles and anglers are getting gear ready for fall outings. We’ve got it all in North Carolina but for me, it’s the best month of fly fishing as Spanish mackerel, bluefish, false albacore and a lot of other species gorge on little baitfish as they all begin to migrate south. The sun had been up only 30 minutes when we left the Harkers Island dock but it was a perfect day already. The air was bright with anticipation as we ran down Back Sound toward the Barden’s Inlet channel. The marsh grass had traded its summer green for fall gold, nearly glowing in the slanted rays of the early morning fireball rising above the lighthouse. The radio cackled, “She’s on 19.” “She” was a peregrine falcon that had stopped for a week’s break on her migration south. The sleek brownish gray bird was perched on a green channel marker looking over the breakfast menu when we stopped to snap a few photos. “That’s a good sign,” Brian Horsley said. He was not just right, but prophetic.Rounding the Hook at the Cape and into the ocean, we chased birds looking for the splashes that would give away feeding fish. By the time Brian said, “Get your rod”, I was already in the front of the boat, false casting to play out enough line to reach the fish flashing on nearly invisible bait. Cast and strip, cast and strip. “Longer strips to move the fly; we’re floating forward,” Brian barked. On the third strip, the line came tight and after half a second, the fish took off for the next zip code. I hung on and grinned as the reel buzzed. Brian folded his arms and grinned back, satisfied guide and angler had done their job correctly. It was a little past eight when he released the first fish.The next pod of albies didn’t take and disappeared after only showing for 20 seconds. “Must be males,” Brian said straight faced. I bit. “How can you tell?” I said skeptically.“Fear of commitment.” A good line that I’ll have to use sometime. A dozen squawking gulls several hundred yards away drew our attention. They were pushing and shoving to dive on the remnants of anchovies chewed by slashing fish. It was an amazing sight. Thousands of baitfish that turned a bed sized area into a rust colored swirl being devoured by toothy predators. Bluefish ate the anchovies. Spanish ate the anchovies. Albacore ate the anchovies. And the fish in the brown suits ate them all. “Cast right in the middle!” Brian shouted.“In the middle with those sharks?” Even I couldn’t miss a target that big. Two strips and the Tug of War was on. Horsed the fish in before the black tips could get a big bite of Little Tunny. Cast again, hooked up again. Despite the 15-knot wind, I was sweating while pumping and reeling. My tortured forearms felt like I’d done a hundred curls; hunched shoulders tightened. It was totally exhilarating.The miniature fish in the bait ball hid under our boat until the predators had their fill or moved on. We went looking for the next pod of chaos on the east side of Cape Lookout. There’s a reason that the 163-foot tall lighthouse was built on the Cape—a 21-mile stretch of shoals that have been called the “Horrible Headland” and the more regional “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The shoals run north and south, often covered by only a few feet of water. Lots of mackerel, bluefish and false albacore pursue bait that is disoriented by the currents and waves. It’s fly fishing heaven although there could be hell to pay by the boat captain who doesn’t keep one eye on his depth finder and another on the wave action. After inviting three Spaniards for dinner and releasing a few more Fat Alberts, the west wind gradually picked up, setting a trap for the greedy fishermen who linger too long on the wrong side of the shoals. The howling wind hit us broadside with a saltwater shower as we headed for quieter water inside the Hook.“My best day,” I told Brian as he sent the last albie home to the green depths. “I think I caught more fish today than I have in all three or four years I’ve been doing this.”He nodded. “Best day of the year so far.” It was a rough ride back to the dock but I didn’t feel anything but great.