Not a trip maker by any means the cactus were off the bite yielding to "Senor Blanco" in the most productive areas. But it
didn't matter. The beauty of the Northern Baja coast backlit by the rising sun crisply defined by the gin clear atmosphere
evoked reflection and appreciation the good in all things.
As for voyage results we pieced together a successful adventure featuring the big three in varying proportions. The one
deficit of mid grade tuna gave us fits as the trip unfolded but the shot at jumbos, plenty of school size, 12 - 15# tuna, a
bounty of good grade dorado, as much 15 - 20# yellowtail as we desired, and the bonus shot of 50 wahoo placed this run well
into the category of success.
Plenty of fishing time, beautiful weather nine out of eleven days, and a stellar group of anglers that rivals any I have been
to sea with was a combination that coud not help but produce a worthy result. I am grateful for it. Speaking of gratitude I
must express both that and my compliments to Shimano and Mark Mills for hosting another significantly distinct Shimano
Of all the charters we operate nothing compares to the support Shimano brings to the table. The gear alone - what appears to
be at least one hundred different outfits, endless terminal tackle, lures, wax wings, poppers, hooks, etc. - all rigged,
maintained, and ready for any and everyone to use throughout the voyage is an incredible opportunity. Throw in the support of
professional, knowledgable, experienced representatives such as Mark Mills, who not only demonstrates but goes to great
lengths to educate one and all about the Shimano products they are using, and how to be more effective anglers overall, and
these voyages stand alone.
Of the many things that stand out about these trips I appreciate the chance for anglers to try some equipment that they most
likely would not use were it not for the compelling opportunity. There is nothing to motivate a fisherman to try something
new like seeing friends and/or other anglers having a blast cathing fish on a different rig. That is exactly what these
voyages are about - the opportunity for anglers to expand their base of fishing practices and knowledge. For support of their
products, innovation, and production of quality equipment that always performs above expectations Shimano leads the fishing
tackle industry by a wide margin. Our support is aligned accordingly; we stand on the same principals.
In closing this voyage my gratitude is again extended to this exceptional group of individuals who made this run one to
remember in all the right ways. Also, all of us at Royal Star wish a happy Thanksgiving to all those anglers and friends who
chose Royal Star for their long range voyages year after year. We will be tying the boat up for the week following
Thanksgiving installing the long awaited satellite internet connection on Royal Star as well as attending to several other
mechanical and cosmetic projects.
Final voyage photos feature another long time Royal Star friend and veteran John Finneran with his 172 pound yellowfin
perched momentarily on the rail before being gently landed on the deck. Photo number two features Alaskan salmom harvestor
Ben Van Dyck, a.k.a. "BVD", reefing on a spirited Cedros yellowtail in the late afternoon Monday last.
Breaking up the northerly trek with an afternoon of yellowtail action was to everyone's delight. They didn't come easy,
consistent with everything we have set out to accomplish during this run, but also consistent were the final results. We
finally got on a batch to work with in the late afternoon and determinedly pursued them until daylight was gone.
Good times and good action were the theme as everyone is now on such familiar terms, after nine days on board and seven at
the rail together, that the atmosphere on deck is exactly what one would expect; plenty of good natured ribbing, jokes,
and all out ball busting are the norm. At this stage of a voyage the best comes out in everyone when we have eight, ten,
or fifteen fish hooked at the same time. It is what we came for, all of us, far beyond the fishing only.
A little additional time on our hands naturally dictates one thing - more fishing. That is exactly what we plan to do on
our final day tomorrow. A few more "cactus" drifts, because we have the time and a hankering for Chef Drew Rivera, who has
been on yet another outrageous roll during this voyage turning out selections indescribable in their flavors and
creativity, to adhere to the Royal Star final day fresh bass or cod lunch tradition. I'm sure, if we find them, that a
handful or two of the tasty bottom varieties will make it into the premium RSW tanks as well.
A chance to break up the ride and wet our lines will round out the fishing time on this eleven day run at nine days -
exactly as I prefer. Of note still is this outstanding stretch of flat calm that will continue through our final afternoon
of travel. Not completely uncommon for the month of November in these parts, it is not to be overlooked as a blessing
either. To be on the high seas for this length of time and enjoy such extreme calm is nearly a trip maker in itself.
Photos today first feature a long time Royal Star veteran who is no stranger to big fish notoriety. Phil Wade is legendary
among Royal Star crewman for his triumph over a 78 pound White Sea Bass three or four years prior. Today though he is
again the man with his largest yellowfin tuna to date, a hearty 195 pounder. Image number two features Sport Fishing
magazine outdoor writer Sam Hudson with his first (whole) west coast wahoo ironically landed at Uncle Sam Bank Sunday
morning past. Sam wasn't so lucky on day one at Rocas Alijos where a large shark saw fit to satisfy his appetite with half
of the first west coast wahoo he had hooked.
The school size, 12 - 16# yellowfin, another decent shot of wahoo, and a wealth of additional, over eager mixed bag juveniles
made for a full day of steady action. Yankin' and crankin', jerkin' and pullin' - any such characterization fits the bill as
almost every lure and baited line that went over the side resulted in something larger to provide that thrill of getting bit
that never gets old.
A second day of cathartic action set us all in the right frame of mind. Steaming north the idea of punctuating the long ride
with some fishing along the way is what we prefer. Though not always feasible, or attractive in some circumstances, this run
happens to be ideal for such a strategy. Working up is again the plan for tomorrow as the coast of Southern Baja beckons.
Yellowtail and variety are at the top of the docket as the phenomenal stretch of beautiful weather continues.
Photos today feature one of the big boys from down below and long time Royal Star veteran Mark Rhodes. Mark's trophy came in
at 212 and now awaits a date with Fisherman's Processing in the pristine RSW of tank one. Photo number two features first
time Royal Star angler, but no stranger to fishing, Randall Nimura who picked off two wahoo today after getting his rear end
handed to him by the wily speedsters a few days back at Alijos. Exceptional redemption came in the form of bonus skin on the
casting lure following a deep water strike late in the day. But today's photo of Randall does not feature the coveted wahoo
that avoided my lens. A dandy Alijos yellowtail receives the honors with a satisfied Randall expressing his sentiments in no
A very different day in the right kind of way. Not that we made history or reinvented the wheel, but our fishing effort
finally wrenched a piece of what we were looking for from what has been a ridiculously indifferent ocean. The maddeningly
frustrating zeros that have been stacking up to my building anger were put to rest in the right kind of way. No stupid luck
or mindless bumbling into them, though we would have gladly accepted such fortune, today we found a zone with the long
awaited feel of fish, set to the task of rooting them out, and ultimately made good on the opportunity.
At day's end we are still seeking the mother lode of better size yellowfin, one vanguard in the 130 pound class and a few 50
- 60 pounders was the sum of attempts this round, but a fair bunch of small yellowfin and a huge bounty of medium to
ballslapper grade flats (dorado) appeased a lot of blood lust adding catching to the list of tasks completed.
I don't know if anyone other than a fisherman can relate to the sense of satisfaction experiencing such incredible production
produces, in particular after a long dry spell. Following an early afternoon dorado butt whomping, during which we flat went
country on their fully deserving posterior, everyone on board was liberated from the weight of the world. Not solely from
The visual of so many wanton predators so eager and willing, charging everything that hits the water in droves, was as
satisfying as the fishing itself; especially after our quota was in the hatch and we set to teasing the remaining thousands
for the simple yet incredibly satisfying sake of doing so; that never gets old.
There are few things that entertain like retrieving a hookless surface popper through hundreds of dorado frantically grabbing
and chomping it in repeated futile attempts to maul their tormentor. They get so pissed smashing the thing time and again to
no avail; and they never give up. Though perhaps a somewhat cruel pleasure it is fine chance for us to turn the tables, and
is so deliciously comical.
Photos today feature long time Royal Star veteran Jonathon Mitsumori first from the angler's eye view as his 130 yellowfin
nears the moment of capture, and second with his prize subdued. As one can see in the photo the flat calm stretch continues.
Flat calm weather - grease - carried us through the day as the catching certainly did not. A whole lotta miles were
covered for a whole lotta nothing. A little bit of puny tuna and one lone wahoo were the total of our efforts after
departing from our big fish honey hole that made only one angler's day.
This is a tough go of it; no sugar coating can obscure the reality of very little fish to be found. In a grease calm sea
so stunning in beauty that one could not help but be awestruck by the fluid image reflecting peace and pure tranquility we
ploughed a seventy mile barren furrow.
The mesmeric window into Neptune's Lair evoked a yearning, a yearning for fish, for mercy, and a yearning of thoughts
untold. But fleeting thoughts beyond the predicament of no fish were a distraction assigned to later contemplation. This
reluctant ocean is determined to make us pay dearly for any and everything she is willing to yield; one of those junctures
to remind us of our place, not that we suffer from illusions otherwise.
We also do not suffer from a lack of mettle. This is not our first turn in the hot seat. While aggravating the solution is
the same as it has always been - keep grinding. They will come, or they won't, but any result will not be from a lack of
trying. Good fish, in the most potentially productive zone, are still the target. Tomorrow is a new day.
Photos today feature fortunate one Gunner Kruse who put his time in to be rewarded with the ultimate opportunity. Sound
rigging made all the difference in the world as Gunner reefed on an incredibly determined 211 for over an hour before it
finally gave up the fight. Photo number one features an angler's eye view as the sheet glass conditions produced a crystal
clear image of the beast long before it succumbed. Photo number two features Gunner with his prize.
Encouraging sign to be sure. A little action on the bruisers we have been looking for since mid-October catapulted this
effort into the big league realm; just as we were hoping for. But it is only a beginning, the vanguards perhaps, as what
we found amounted to a huge day for five Royal Star anglers, and a day of intense yet un-rewarded fishing for those
Not that the fishing was inconsistent with the pursuit of giant yellowfin tuna in these parts - more often than not it is
a scratch game where an angler must apply uncommon focus, dedication, and attention to detail while awaiting their chance.
This was another of many like occasions when the tantalizing prospect of attaining glory, the pillar of long range fishing
achievements, was so close, so real, the want of action, of a turn in the drivers seat, was an effort to contain.
It is a real test of fishing, and fishermen, as the ultimate patience test. In many ways this prospect captures the
essence of fishing itself, not catching mind you, fishing; the pursuit of something extraordinary, something special, that
requires above average perseverance to obtain. That said I much prefer the catching approach - the caveman in me has no
qualms about taking advantage of the quarry when they let down their guard. I suspect the majority of long range Captains
and anglers prescribe to this instinct.
Not to be today though, and overall present conditions and signs we have to work with suggest wanton opportunities are few
and far between. Whether a big void of fish or the down side of a cycle the sum of present efforts is paltry relative to
expectations long range.
The big news however, focusing on what is right in our fishing microcosm, are the first real shots at trophy yellowfin of
our Fall 2013 season. We did see enough to be optimistic in both the short and long term. There will be more jumbos taken
from the lower zones; 262, 256, 212, 195, and 172 today speak to this assertion. At present we are pinning our hopes on
the next few days. We have a sea state that is ironically too calm, if there is such a thing, as zero wind has all flights
grounded eliminating a significant component of our jumbo yellowfin arsenal.
Such is what we call a quality problem though. We'll take the flat calm, literally like a lake, and make due without
complaint. Photos for the day feature a couple of the fortunate few who were on top of their game out of the gate taking
heed of our calls to fish in these zones with the big gear only. When the first bites came these anglers were in command
landing their 262 and 256 without ado.
Long time Royal Star master angler Tommy Walker made a big impression with the first "cow" of the voyage at 262. Future
father in law of legendary Royal Star crewman Blake Wasano, Robert Alexander, answered next handily subduing his 256 using
the unbelievably capable Shimano Talica 25. Though a little bloody I had to share the first image of Robert with his
trophy coming through the gate. The second image is with Robert and Blake sharing the triumph.
Pretty quiet here today; the weather thankfully, the fishing not so much. Plenty of water was covered in rapidly improving
conditions to almost no avail. We did run across worthy sign of school size yellowfin, a bounty of 10 - 15 pound fish that
strangely enough wanted little to do with us other than run around the boat and swim beneath the hull, but we're not quite
in the market for that grade of fish just yet.
Though things again appear to have headed in the wrong direction - the fish of last week are all but gone - we point
forward optimistically adhering to the idea that a fresh bunch are out there to be found. It is going to take a little leg
work. To this end we are still rolling in search of things bigger and better beyond.
Photo today features the Shimano master mentioned yesterday. Mark Mills does the honors with a 40 pound class wahoo
captured a couple of days prior.
A completely different picture here today, that thankfully included some decent morning fishing, as the moon and weather
change transformed yesterday's pleasures into today's challenges. Virtually no sign of the skinnies so prolific yesterday set
us to targeting any consolation coming up with a fair hit on beefer yellowtail along the way.
For a short while it appeared that the 35 - 40# class yellows were going to settle in and give us a real run for our money
but they gave it up when conditions changed leaving us holding the bag. No complaints with what we landed - a lack of
gratitude for every big beautiful specimen in the first RSW tank would be plain inconsiderate - but these jumbo yellows have
a unique way of eliciting want of more, always.
On a side note I have to mention how effective the butterfly jigs were today, and are in general, when it comes to west coast
yellowtail fishing. Whether it be big yellows at Alijos or school fish along the beach the butterfly method, applied
correctly, is absolutely lethal; and not only when the fish are biting with abandon. That to me is the true measure of a lure
and/or method's effectiveness - how consistently it produces across the board; when the fishing is good and not so good. By
this standard the butterfly method, as crazy as it appears to us west coasters, is an incredibly worthy addition to an
Shimano representative and master angler Mark Mills absolutely schooled all of us this morning in just how effective the
butterfly jigs can be. One after another big yellows fell victim to the irresistible, jerk and flutter motion while Mark held
on for the subsequent ride. Needless to say many observant anglers took close note of the disproportionate success I suspect
adding more than a few butterfly jigs and outfits to their growing Christmas and holiday wish lists.
That is exactly what these Shimano sponsored voyages are about. The chance for anglers to see and use different lures,
methods, and equipment perhaps becoming enlightened, or at least expanding their horizons, along the way. To date I have
never seen one of these voyages fail to deliver in these respects. The amount of gear alone is nothing short of incredible,
but the opportunity to see it all put to use, and test drive any and everything for one's self, is an element of value, both
in dollars and sense, no other voyages offer.
Photos today feature anglers John Garner with a nice "skin" landed on the sweet Marauder, and Steve Bosang with a 38# class
yellowtail landed during the best of today's action.
A nice start on the "skin" that lived up to their reputation for speed, wile, and magician like escape ability. They are the
masters, as discovered by so many today, and instill a desire to overcome, to right the wrongs, to even the score; then to
land even just one. The indescribable trickery and hijinks can reduce even the most skilled angler to near madness as the
slippery jokers grab lures for an instant then let them go, snip wire in two like it was mono, and send back leaders in
spring coil curly cues less the lure or hook on the end of course.
It sure makes for sweet success when one of the bastards slips up though. And when two or three miss the mark, especially in
a row, it is fishing nirvana. In so may ways these west coast wahoo are the most challenging game fish we target, and
gratifying prize to land.
Fine weather and epic scenery capped off the success encouraging one and all to heed the call of the wild. Full participation
and appreciation of the setting and bounty - that's what we set out to accomplish every day. In this case such lofty
aspirations were rewarded. Tomorrow promises a downgrade in the weather and the inevitable change that comes with it. The bar
is set rather high by today's standards, but many surprises await in Neptune's lock box. Finding the key, every day, is the
gold ring dangling afar.
Photos today feature a couple of fishermen from the northern climes of Alaska. Richard Root and Victor Jones (with Chief
Engineer Paul Caramao) have laid many a salmon to rest in their pursuit of the American dream. Today a piece of that dream
was reality in the form of a few fat "skinnies" from the legendary Rocas Alijos.
A day of smooth sailing, just how we like it; plenty of time and comfort to rig, prepare, and speculate, anticipate, what
lies ahead. No fish stories necessary, if fortune is to our preference, and this amalgam of characters, so diverse that I
can't wait to see them begin fishing together, is the perfect template for long range fishing success. No preconceived
notions, no magnificent heroes awash in self admiration, these regular folk, from all walks of life, are the reason this
pursuit is of such value.
On the fishing front we continue pushing south our first destination still distant on the bow. At the very least the long day
of travel removes any and all urgency from the rigging effort that is considerable in scope on this Shimano sponsored run. It
is quite impressive the range and amount of gear being prepared throughout this vessel. The galley, topside aft, on the main
deck from bow to stern - tackle and equipment is strewn just about everywhere in various stages of preparation. All slated to
be completed by tomorrow morning these fish are in real trouble if and when we stumble upon them.
Tomorrow the fishing begins in earnest and will continue through the next seven days. Mucho fishing time - just how I prefer
it, especially when catching is the majority component.