Ownership transitions in the fishing world always have their inside story. The reason why is often untold in the excitement of new partnerships and new business ventures seeking their brand of success. Fisherman’s Processing, only four years into it’s esteemed, incredibly successful history, boasts one of these stories worth telling.
Frank Lo Preste, the man at the center of this transition, is content to transfer his shares, in accordance with the founding partnership agreement, to managing partner Sean Sebring. Rosie Flowers, who has proven herself an unmatched powerhouse in the realm of customer service, organizational management, and quality control, will also purchase a significant interest in Fisherman’s Processing to the delight of the present shareholders. Introducing the new ownership team of Fisherman’s Processing 2014: Sean Sebring, Rosie Flowers, Tim Ekstrom, and Randy Toussaint!
The real story behind this opportunity reveals yet another success for Frank Lo Preste, who has a well established history of such accomplishments dating as far back as the mid 1980’s. Iconic long range sport fishing partnerships such as Brian Kiyohara and Sam Patella, Tim Ekstrom and Randy Toussaint, as well as several other successful solo operators in the local sport fishing fleet all have Frank to credit for their initial ownership opportunities.
Frank is a man quick to identify what it takes in young individuals to succeed. Always ready to offer upward mobility to dedicated employees Frank long ago understood that the measure of business achievement is not just money in his pocket; it is money in the pockets of all of those instrumental in the development, management, and success of his many business ventures.
Fisherman’s Processing Managing Partner Sean Sebring is one of those individuals. Working as Fisherman’s Landing dock manager for nearly twenty five years Sean approached Frank in 2009 with a new idea about fish processing. Sean was short of the necessary capital but brimming with initiative so Frank readily jumped on board recruiting his long time friends Tim Ekstrom and Randy Toussaint to assist in bringing Sean’s idea to fruition. From the onset it was understood by all that Sean would purchase Frank’s shares in the business as soon as he was ready. Frank ventured his time and capital to see one of his long time dedicated employees become an owner; a successful small businessman joining the ever growing ranks of young men and women whom he has provided opportunity and seen thrive.
The nobility of Frank’s support for those who have helped him achieve success can not be overstated, and is sadly lost in some extremely unfair, and very unfortunate mischaracterizations about him. High achievement always comes with detractors, and Frank Lo Preste has his share. But none of those questioning his motives or morals really know the man, or his consistent history. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” in this case applies.
No one is better suited than this author to speak to Frank’s character and long history of sharing his knowledge and success. Beginning my career in long range sport fishing on the deck of Royal Polaris in July of 1987 I have been mentored in the art of achievement by Frank through the present day. From purchasing my first home to purchasing my first (and only) long range sport fishing vessel Royal Star in 1996 Frank is an invaluable resource and friend in my life. And I am only one of many.
Passing his co-ownership of Fisherman’s Processing to Sean Sebring and Rosie Flowers is simply the latest example of Frank Lo Preste’s growing sport fishing legacy. It goes without saying that many satisfied future Fisherman’s Processing customers and employees have Frank Lo Preste to thank for another thriving small business servicing the San Diego sport fishing community.
Fair winds and calm seas combined for a smooth passage across. A degree of calm rare for this stretch of ocean we did not take the good fortune for granted. Spirits were lively and flowing and the last frontier enjoyed by revelers awash in sub-tropical sunshine softened by friendly high clouds and a kind and easy breeze.
Without a doubt this group of anglers has seized upon the essence of long range. Sharing the passion for fishing among those of like mind, making the most of a voyage amidst friends old and new, and recognizing that time is the most valued commodity - the catching plays into these foundational concepts more often than not as destiny fulfilled. I have hit upon this theme a few times over the past year. In many ways out here the group mind can have an effect upon fortune. Though I can not provide direct evidence of this belief I doubt there are many who would disagree.
Good, positive environments tend to produce things beneficial. The opposite is also true. And even when the fishing itself falls off, or fails to deliver, those groups that maintain an upbeat atmosphere can't wait to return and give it another go. It is not just the fishing, or catching, that makes for a successful long range adventure. It is the Captain, crew, and especially the anglers that define success on any given voyage.
In the case of this run we return fat, happy, and satisfied with the end result. Though production tapered off when our big move for glory fell short of our goal we still end the trip with a bounty of fresh, premium RSW product that will be enjoyed by friends and family for months to come. Nine yellowfin tuna over the 200 pound mark presently reside in the tanks as well as numerous others from 140 – 190 pounds. Throw in a handful or two more in the 75 – 120 pound range for each angler, in addition to a few “skin” and the final tally in quantity and quality is impressively representative of big league long range fishing.
Photos today feature another long time Royal Star friend and veteran John Santaella pulling on one of his many vanquished opponents of this run. John and I go back at least 21 years when he first fished for Bluefin with me on Royal Star in July of 1993. I'll never forget the younger, and no less entertaining, John landing ten bluefin over 100 pounds in about a ten hour time frame during that memorable voyage. No less capable now John remains one of the most pleasant, easy going, easy to get along with anglers we are privileged to fish with. Photo number two features a crewman's eye view as a gaff is sunk into this 225 pound, bruiser yellowfin. Captain Brian Sims is on the gaff and held on, true to his reputation, when this big bastard darted just as the gaff struck.
Not really the bang up finish we were aiming for – it just wasn't here. Conditions were still confused, the weather superb, but hardly more than a little fish here and a little fish there added up to exactly that – a little something more in the hatch to maintain the current trend of barely squeaking by. Not that we had a bad day or the on deck atmosphere suffered because of it, on the contrary spirits were soaring as the jokes flew and friendly ribbing continued. An influx of new “skin” helped things flow along as well.
As for this place in general chalk up our relatively paltry results to nothing more that the standard movements of pelagic fish in and out of these zones. What we experienced is nothing new or even noteworthy. To be honest I am actually very pleased with what we scratched together in light of what we had to work with. It could have been a lot worse; of course we know this from first hand experience.
Thankfully the wealth of premium RSW product residing in two brimming tanks before we arrived provided some breathing room to fall back upon. The nice insurance policy allowed a swing for the fence. But instead of a home run we came up with a half hearted grounder that I'd say we just managed to reach base on. Given another chance the plan would still be the same. Complacency, settling for average or good enough, just isn't in my nature. This simultaneous curse/blessing of yearning, of incessantly reaching for something better, is part of the package. And anglers wouldn't want it any other way.
Gliding toward home we actually look forward to the second full travel day of this run in forecast flat calm conditions. Gear will be cleaned and stowed and the day will progress in pure comfort as passing nautical miles and good times among friends blend into memories sublime.
Photo today is another tribute to girl power. Long time Royal Star friend and veteran Tammie Bean is no stranger to pulling on trophy yellowfin. But far from a hardcore angler Tammie always demonstrates that one really doesn't need to be in order to catch a few fish and have fun. Time with bait in the water really is the key to consistent results. Today's image confirms this truism. Here is Tammie with her final fish of the voyage, and our biggest of the day – a fat 150 pounder.
Epic weather softened the hard knocks of slow scratch fishing and working amidst a determined abundance of pelagic silky sharks. More of a nuisance than anything the omnipresent patrolling “grinners” only occasionally grabbed a hooked fish focusing more on the sardines fished by anglers whom readily expressed dwindling affection for the local denizens.
It was a patience test, fishing almost always is, and as usual the spoils go to those who rise beyond the petty challenges, remain focused, and keep lines in the water. Similar to yesterday the day somewhat dragged on as we waited, and waited, for the late afternoon/evening event to come. Fortunately, though in smaller proportions than yesterday, it did indeed happen.
A couple of handfuls of better size yellowfin survived the gauntlet finding their way into the final RSW tank for the long ride home. The best of them was around one hundred seventy pounds with no real jumbos seen today or hooked. Overall I would certainly like to see a different set of fishing conditions, contrary current in particular has this place all screwed up, but the other go to cliché in fishing - “it is what it is” dictates our present strategy. There is something here to work with; and something is far better than nothing.
The looming final day presents opportunity. That is my perspective in full. We have all the tools and wherewithal to end this run on a colossal note. All we need now is for the fish to arrive at the party.
Photos today feature yet another long range master reefing on one of his two cows taken on this run, and with his 226 coming through the gate.
Doug Taylor has so many long range achievements to his credit that I again would need pages, perhaps even volumes, to adequately chronicle. Suffice it to say that Doug is an exemplary long range angler who consistently earns above average results. He is far from lucky, I can tell you that; he bests the odds by fishing hard, preparing and maintaining his equipment to the highest standards, and driving through inevitable set backs with determined resolve. In any fishery these universal attributes of success are rules to live by
A whole lot of angst and hand wringing here as the dreaded result of finding far less than we left behind appeared to be what we bumbled into. “No guts, no glory”, “no pain, no gain”, yeah, all of that sounds great until the pain is real. That sickening malaise that washes over one when they realize they are painted into a corner obscures heroic notions in short order. But it doesn't halt the effort; far too many successful outcomes have occurred in the face of obvious doom.
At the very least we were looking for a change of pace, and that is exactly what we got. Far from glory but enough to deem the effort worthy the results did not come until the eleventh hour when a couple of handfuls of bigger fish moved in from the deeps and gave us what we came for. The pain and gain was not fully distributed, a few were left out in the cold shunned from the party, but eight or nine dandy's in the 140 – 170 pound class made it over the rail in addition to a few smaller models that met their maker in light of the day's earlier paltry results. One fish squeaked over the coveted two hundred mark weighing in at a respectable 203.
It was a bit of a nail biter but that is fishing. The weather is fantastic, beautiful, gorgeous. The scenery is equally stunning. We have bait, time, and the drive to root out a few more of these jumbos that I am certain are still around. Apart from the weather and sea state I can't report that fishing conditions are particularly ideal, but Mother Nature's folly is our cross to bear. In light of how this place presented it's challenges throughout the day we are in no position to complain. In actuality we are mighty pleased with the day's results.
Photos for the day rightly feature veteran long range angler Cathy Needleman who proves time and again that good things come in small packages. In competition with fish that are way bigger than her the consistency of Cathy's triumph's is something to behold. The old “mind over matter” adage definitely applies.
At about five feet tall and no more than one hundred pounds the inspirational image of Cathy pulling on, and standing next to, trophy yellowfin tuna much larger than her is admittedly incongruous. But the results are plain to see, and I hope convincing to any and all other lady anglers out there considering a long range voyage. It can be, it is being, done as we speak.
Photo number one features Cathy pulling on a good one with Captain Brian Sims standing by, Photo number two features Cathy with the above mentioned 203 she landed through a hoard of sharks at the end of the day.
Calm wind and seas greeted anglers this morning. A welcome wake up call in any instance the fish made an early appearance to compliment the change beginning what ultimately became another fine day of trophy yellowfin tuna fishing on the lower grounds. A couple more deuces and a couple of missed opportunities, as well as plenty of action on tuna anywhere from 70 – 170, planted this day firmly in the category of success.
On both fronts – production and satisfaction - we are living right. And though I never take anything in fishing for granted there is one significant deficit that is weighing on us. The idea of settling for this fishing is sound; but it doesn't, it won't, fully satisfy the insatiable thirst for something exceptional. Bigger and better are out there, somewhere, calling.
Not seeking to thumb our nose at the age old rule of “don't leave fish to find fish” we are in a unique position to do exactly that. We have plenty of fish on board to take a risk, to gamble on finding the mother lode, or at least target a few bona fide giants. Whether we find a pot of gold or lump of coal a look around the corner is certainly in order, for the adventurous. Sublime weather and a sumptuous forecast only embolden the notion. At the very least, regardless of the outcome, we'll be enjoying the ride.
Photos today feature one whom I confidently assign the title of Royal Star legend. Mind you this title is a product of my doing. My admiration, respect, and affection for the man necessitates the title, but he would never be so presumptuous as to consider himself as such. Jack West has been fishing with us regularly since at least 1994. He has shared so many incredible adventures with us that I could fill pages upon pages with his exploits alone. From harrowing night time skiff pursuits of frighteningly angry giant yellowfin to jumbos lost and landed within yards of the coral heads at Clipperton Atoll Jack has seen and accomplished what many of us can only dream of. And you would never know it when talking with or fishing next to him.
Unassuming and gracious by nature Jack is a compliment to every Royal Star voyage he joins. He is generous with his knowledge and rich humor, a model of focus, determination, experience, and skill when it comes to many things, and so consistently successful that I confidently assert he is the living example of what it takes to achieve results in this fishery. He always uses the right equipment for the occasion, puts his time in at the rail, and rigs his gear meticulously. The percentage of times he bests the odds is not an accident, and in perspective really is quite stunning.
Today's photos first feature Jack at the rail reefing on a heavy, and second with his 230 pound prize, number two of this voyage, that couldn't resist Jack's perfectly presented morsel adrift in the chunk line.
Steady progress toward the goal today as bigger fish returned and we made good on the opportunity. Good scratching is how I would describe it - a perfect pace during the same “banker's hours” bite time as the prior two days that kept the deck orderly, efficient, and well managed by the boys. Three over the two hundred mark complimented another dozen or so in the 150 – 190 pound class along with steady release action on yellowfin in the 100 pound and under range.
Good times among good friends; nothing like enjoying the company of those who share the passion for offshore fishing and drive and mettle to embark on a long range voyage. When times are good it makes it that much better. At the official half way point of this run we are mindful of remaining hold capacity and laser focused on occupying it with jumbos. At this point it only takes one – the one – for each angler to spike the ball.
Speaking of victory special credit is due for Bosko Kustidic who is putting on a clinic at the rail during his first long range voyage. Bosko is clobbering the fish with such consistency that his success can not be assigned to luck. His secret? Time at the rail; time in the water. In short – fishing; slow or otherwise he is out there at the rail putting in his time. The results speak for themselves. Today's photos first feature Bosko and his son Vladimir with a hearty 221 landed this morning. Photo number two is the man solo with his prize.
As side story worth mentioning occurred at the beginning of the voyage. Bosko signed on for this adventure with no prior long range experience. He was a little apprehensive before departure not knowing anyone or what to expect. When the final skiff arrived carrying the last few anglers that flew in from San Diego aboard was Bosko's son, and experienced long range angler, Vladimir. Caught totally off guard by his son's surprise appearance Bosko, in his overwhelming joy, realized that he'd been had. We were all in on the scheme from the start. Needless to say both Bosko and Vladimir began this voyage on a high note that has definitely carried over to the fishing.
A distinct difference in the size average today as 75 – 90 pound fish made up the bulk of our catch with a handful of standout 150 – 180's. Very good action during bankers hours added an air of civility to the effort while the traditional early morning and evening period practically failed to produce; every day is different.
Gliding into day four fat and happy capacity and ample fishing time remaining dictate a release size of 100 pounds and under. These mid ranger's add up in a hurry and we aren't really in the market for more, unless driven by necessity. As of now time is on our side. With fish in the tanks and agreeable weather becoming more so all the time it goes without saying that one and all are happy campers. Spirits are high and optimism higher. Bigger fish, the trophies we came for, await somewhere ahead.
Photo of the day features a familiar face from the past who finally made his way back to the Royal Star deck following a long hiatus. It was with genuine warmth that we greeted Dr. Bob Hulbert after missing his positive influence on every voyage he joined for almost six years. A well developed sense of humor goes a long way on these adventures and Bob's perspective is perfectly aligned with what it takes to craft good times from every opportunity. Here is Bob with the first deuce of the voyage, a 204 landed yesterday morning.
Steady action today mixing it up between old school live bait presentations and regular kite bites. Everyone was energized and engaged throughout the day as the random timing and distribution of bites required simple effort to produce the result that anglers were seeking. Yellowfin tuna in 90 – 120 pound class, and a significant mix of 150 – 170's, were complimented by three bruisers that cleared the two hundred pound threshold.
We forge into day three satisfied that we are in the right place at the right time. While fairly agreeable the weather could stand to improve a notch or two. The forecast suggests that such a wish just may come to fruition as a calm stretch with legs is due to arrive Thursday morning. Overall good living is how I would describe it.
Good fishing among friends old and new in absolutely stress free surroundings. Every fish landed is received by one and all as if it were their own. Genuine exclamations of joy and success, congratulations all around, and sincere excitement for the victor's achievement are the trademark of a group of long range anglers having fun. This is them – a signature group of individuals creating an inclusive atmosphere that equally celebrates the time and accomplishments.
Photo today features long time Royal Star and long range veteran Dr. Stuart Exall who made relatively short work of this 203 he landed as twilight set upon us. Unlike the possessed demon Stuart wrangled with on his last adventure to the edge this dandy was fairly civil acquiescing to a RSW ride north in route to the Fisherman's Processing jerky block.
A lukewarm reception today amidst sloppy conditions and mixed up seas. We're not feeling the love in this area yet but reserve judgment until a more thorough inspection is complete. There is sign, there are fish here, but conditions are difficult and uninspiring. The beauty of this voyage of course is that we have an eight day time frame to work with. Not that any guarantees come with time, especially in fishing, but time on the ocean at least favors change. And at present change is what we are looking for.
A few nice ones came on board early and eluded the camera as I waited in vain for something bigger and better. A hearty 175 for first time Royal Star angler Bosko Kustidic took fish of the day honors and a few more pushed the 150 mark. No bruisers, or yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds, were landed or hooked.
So passes day one. Undeterred we forge into day two expectant of better things to come. A weather forecast that is quickly coming around to just how we like it – fishing calm – promises a steady platform and reason for these tuna to rise to the surface. Calm stretches and fine fishing often coincide. We'll see if such is the case this time.