01/28/15

Posted: 07:12:02

01/27/15
We departed Sunday on our annual Braid 15-day and have been enjoying a pleasant ride down while busily rigging gear. We chose to make a brief stop this afternoon to take advantage of the phenomenal wahoo action at the rocks as our course conveniently takes us within a stones throw.
I was a bit skeptical with the heavy pressure here lately but the skin were on the bite as if they hadn't seen a boat in days. Steady action ensued with 75 quality fish from 40 to 60lbs hitting the deck before we called it a day and resumed our southerly trek.
We will arrive to our next destination on the 29th so look for the next post on the 30th.

Photo Here...

01/24/15

Posted: 00:25:26

01/23/15

Ahhh... Sweet passage after a night of wallowing and rolling up the line in moderate Santa Ana winds and confused sea conditions. By 0700 though the brief period of exaggerated movement was a distant memory. Flat calm conditions - light and variable winds, zero seas, and a gentle nautical sway were all one could feel. It was the perfect note to wrap up this voyage on. The traditional final evening prime rib feast was served in conditions so calm that one could hardly tell they were at sea on a moving vessel. That luxury in itself is worth volumes.

So we close this run on a high note. Not without it's challenges in the way of fishing and weather through determination, time, and effort we ground out a very nice catch. While there are always “could've, should've, would've” occasions to reflect upon we came out on the winning end this run in the face of conditions and options that could have aligned in far darker fashion for the faint of heart.

We earned them this run, every one of them, but that makes the end result that much more satisfying. And, for returning veterans and those new to long range fishing, peaks and valleys in every fishery are the norm. Where we were the recipients of real favor is in the options with which we were blessed, in particular the Alijos option there and back. To have that as part of our present repertoire is a bonus that can not be overstated.

It is always different – always; sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In the case of this voyage for the better, and the timing was perfect for it. So again passes another successful adventure featuring the big three. We are mighty grateful to one and all for their positive contributions to this successful outcome. Final voyage photo features Royal Star angler Norm Nagaishi with one of his several fat skinnies landed on the back end of this run. Look for Captain Randy Toussaint's reports to commence Sunday as he take the helm on our next “Braid Products” sponsored, fifteen day adventure.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...



01/23/15

Posted: 23:36:04

01/22/15

By the numbers the day passed in a relaxed fishing mode targeting abundant yellowtail and a few other coastal varieties. I can not report that the grade of yellowtail was anything to crow about, small fish in the 6-12 pound class were impossible to get away from, but the volume of these little devils we encountered instills plenty of faith in upcoming yellowtail seasons to be sure.

Jumbo spots of the aspiring mossbacks spread out for miles, at a couple of different islands, made for plenty of action but little in the hatch to show for it. Which was fine; we don't need anything in the way of quantity at this point in the voyage to bolster our egos. A few of the decent size fish were dedicated to the RSW for future consumption but most were liberated in favor of something better or nothing, as it should be.

Day's end found us in a calm, scenic anchorage enjoying a heck of a show on big yellows that were reluctant to climb on but entertaining as all get out. We nabbed a couple, watched the sunset, then set to the task of breaking down our gear, packing up, and heading for home. A good time was had by all through the final moments, as planned.

Photo today features Royal Star angler Marvin Yotsuya with one of his numerous “skin” he landed on the northern passage through Alijos. Marvin was on fire the first day in particular living right no matter what gear he was using. His skill and good fortune added up to a wealth of fine table fare to share with family and friends.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...


01/22/15

Posted: 01:11:42

01/21/15

Another fine morning of “skinnin'” before pulling the plug just after lunch in favor of additional variety tomorrow above. Slower than yesterday, but still good enough to add up, that is exactly what they did in the RSW tanks and why we took off. Though a floating quantity subject to a host of variables and perspectives it's safe to say that enough is enough. With what we captured on the front end heading south freezers will be loaded with ample wahoo for a long time to come. Showing at least a little reserve when the going is good is a virtue nowadays that should be second nature to everyone out here. We have a lot of tomorrow's ahead of us; if we play our cards well.

The final day will be passed in leisure targeting coastal variety with limited zeal. Not cavalier about the pending fishing results, we will be actively pursuing quantity and quality near shore, all are aware that the success of this voyage does not hinge on tomorrow's results. We are heading in to catch a few fish, enjoy the day, and have some fun. I wouldn't be surprised even to see a few drifts for bass along a kelp line or two; zero stress.

Photos today feature another long time Royal Star veteran and favorite Dave Berutich with one of his several dandy wahoo landed in the fray; and again Ben Van Dyke a.k.a. “BVD” with his second trophy yellowfin of the voyage. This one came in at 217 pounds and was a solo act. Ben locked on and got the job done grinding in this beauty less struggle or fanfare. Against this guy I almost felt sorry for the fish. He definitely chose the wrong opponent.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...
Photo Here...


01/21/15

Posted: 00:08:53

01/20/15

Good “skinnin'” here today; steady strikes, steady fishing, and steady catching on the coveted speedsters. Fine working weather complemented non stop action following our late morning arrival. A full host of hijinks too numerous to list made for a grand time. This opportunity, at this time of the year, is an incredible bonus. Everyone here recognizes the obvious. And that adds big to an overall ebullient tenor. To receive favor this good feels as if we are getting away with something. No doubt we are.

Sixty three more of these wily devils now reside in our RSW hatch that is open and ready to accommodate plenty more tomorrow. As rich as wahoo are when shared at the table with family and friends an “extry” one, two, or three apiece will certainly be enjoyed consistent with their gourmet value.

Our photo today features long time Royal Star friend and veteran Mr. Tom Cahillane. At eighty years young no words I assemble can adequately express our admiration, respect, and affection for Tom. Suffice it to say that everything consistent with the term “Man” is presented in Tom; and “gentleman”. Old school values, manners, grit, and style attract the respect and attention of everyone today sadly because they are something uncommon. And I can assure you that men like Tom Cahillane are certainly not common.

Tom bagged a couple nice “skinnies” today and gave back at least a handful more; the best of which came flying out of the water about twenty feet off the stern before breaking off a moment later. It was so much fun watching that stripped devil fly from the water with Tom's bait in his jaws that the sacrifice didn't even matter. We all shared a big laugh and moved on to the next one; of which there were plenty...

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...

01/20/15

Posted: 05:25:48

1/19/15

A strategic shift here spending the day underway in transit for blue pastures above. Of course production is still high on the priority list but variety is now our objective. Good on yellowfin tuna these anglers are now primed for a couple of shots at tasty speedsters that call. The allure of such table fare, and potential for real deal, prime time long range action, is too true to ignore.

Throw in a weather forecast that presents the opportunity exactly as we prefer and the setting is complete. Tomorrow will prove the value of this call, or the next day, or the next. Stretching the remaining fishing time throughout our passage north breaks up the ride to everyone's satisfaction. It's not often that the opportunity presents itself at this time of the year. So to this end we are now beholden; be nice to catch a few fish in the process.

Photo today features long time Alaskan fisherman and Royal Star veteran Ryan Long who bagged his new personal best a couple of days prior. This dandy 179 did the trick and whetted Ryan's appetite for the next, bigger trophy to come.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...


01/19/15

Posted: 00:45:10

01/18/15

An immensely gratifying turn of events as luck this morning was in our favor. Perhaps there was a little more to it than luck – lessons hard learned tend to elicit hyper astute evaluation and adjustments, but still, no matter how much fishing the fisherman is responsible for, the fish themselves, and conditions, must align. There have been an awful lot of days in my career when I figured the reason something didn't go our way correctly and made the necessary adjustments only to have conditions change again and add to my vexation. But that didn't happen today.

A classic morning hit on the big baits produced hot and heavy action for the better part of an hour. A handful of jumbos, biggest of which was 267, a couple more handfuls of mid grade 100 – 150's, and a boon of smaller, havoc wreaking fish in the 25 - 70 pound class had the boys jumping and energized. After piecing this fishing together over the past few days more or less one at a time it felt good to stretch out, cut loose, and do some bona fide clobbering. Ahhh...

And even better, a few hours after the morning session, we settled in for a successful afternoon of steady scratching. It wasn't a barn burner, and we had to scrap with the locals winning some battles and losing others to get the job done, but the quality was right and the hatch continued to open; a good note to end the day on.

Primo weather and conditions were the icing on the cake. Especially poignant after enduring a couple of days of the opposite participation on deck was notably affected. Everyone was out and at it enjoying the good fishing and beautiful weather combined. Enduring even a little of the opposite has a distinct way of illuminating the value of such divine opportunity. Today nothing was left on the table.

Photo today features long time Royal Star veteran Jim Marshall. No stranger to battles with giant yellowfin Jim handily dispatched this 267 on the big gear. No mercy, direct drive; exactly how we like it.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...
Photo Here...


01/18/15

Posted: 00:32:36

01/17/15

We got an invite to the morning party but wrestled with obstacles and squandered the opportunity. More than a little contrary fortune hampered the effort also, stumbling over our own “____'s”, as we like to say, but that is the nature of fishing. Mathematics alone dictate that one will not be in the right place, at the right time, with the right mojo, one hundred percent of the time. And excuses and nonsense aside this morning was our turn in the barrel. It happens.

Suffice it to say that this is not our first rodeo. Twenty five years of running voyages in this zone have a way of familiarizing one with the facts and odds. Though coming out with a losing hand grates there is no time to waste lamenting. The show does not stop. So we took our licking and kept at it salvaging the day through trial and effort. All day long a little here, and a little there added up to a respectable score. And a few highlights kept everyone's head in the game.

Perhaps best of all is the passing of this stretch of inclement weather. While none of the slop affected our ability to work such conditions do have an effect on overall morale. Calm conditions today, following heavy morning squalls, found one and all outside, fishing, laughing, and soaking up the missing sun; morale instantly restored.

Photo today features Royal Star master angler Tony Vultaggio moments after triumphing over this dandy 185.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...


01/17/15

Posted: 02:02:24

1/16/15

Another character builder here amidst cruddy, but plenty workable (thank goodness), weather. It started off with a bang, a couple of big ones and a few handfuls of smaller fish had us feeling good about the potential, then it took a nose dive. Not inconsistent with the old school standard down here of fish in the morning, a long mid day lull, then again fish in the afternoon, such conditions still make for a long day of anticipation. All too familiar with the age old pattern we set our goal – to remain as comfortable as possible with lines in the water and a chance to get one, then got down to it.

In that respect the day was a success. And, true to form, the long dreary morning faded, afternoon arrived, and so did a few fish. We managed to pick away at quality yellowfin through dark ending the day on a positive note. Adding a few to the hatch here and there does add up; the day's tally reflected this notion.

So goes the battle; and thus far a battle it is. Nothing easy about this set of working conditions and options. I was speaking with my son Duke yesterday via sat phone and he asked me about the fishing and conditions. I explained what we had to work with and he immediately stated what we need to do. He said “sounds like you need to double down”. “Exactly” was my answer. Those familiar with Royal Star history know the significance of this reference. “When the going gets tough the tough double down”; a go to philosophy I live by perfectly articulated by my old friend Jim Wood.

It not Armageddon yet, we have plenty of time and resources to get the job done and then some if the fish decide to bite. But now, on the official back side of our time in the Coliseum, the sense of urgency on the bridge is admittedly swelling. At the very least it appears that our weather tomorrow will be in a more cooperative mood. That should help.

Photo of the day features a warrior in his own right, Dave S. Wounded during the ruckus with this 215 when his rod and reel slipped, jumped up, and caught him in the jaw, he battle through the slight mishap to prevail. Sporting a fat, bloodied lip following his successful bout the prize was definitely worth the pain. Congrats to Dave who is no stranger to triumph in the trophy yellowfin arena.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...




01/15/15

Posted: 22:58:45

01/15/15

Following a heavenly night fast to the bottom we spent the vast majority of our morning in search mode. Again the fish gods did not favor the waters on our bow. But with the afternoon came mercy. Good scratch fishing for yellowfin tuna in the 60 – 90# class with a handful of 100 – 120's and a couple three shots at bruisers.

A lot more like what we came for that full afternoon of stationary fishing and catching did wonders for morale. Not that anyone was griping or downtrodden before, concerned is probably the best description, but a lot of that angst melted away when fish started coming on board. For certain the atmosphere on the bridge improved. We're not out of the woods by any means. But now we have something to work with.

Tomorrow will come with a new challenge. Not unexpected the big weather forecast yesterday afternoon is due to arrive. Out on the periphery our location should be fine; nothing all of us haven't worked in hundreds of times so we're hoping for business as usual. But we have to wait and see. At the very least the boys will be donning their rain coats and tightening the chin straps on their sou'westers; should be a good time. Sometimes the sweetest ones are earned the hard way.

Photos today feature Royal Star veterans Mark Shimozaki with a healthy, 120 pound class yellowfin, and Ben Van Dyke, better known as “BVD” who barely missed the mark with his first run at a jumbo yellowfin. This dandy weighed in at a worthy 196.

Tim Ekstrom

Photo Here...
Photo Here...

 
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