We continue the southerly trek in epic, flat calm weather that is ideal for cruising but promises to be a little warm when we stop the boat and begin fishing. Fortunately the A/C units are up to the task and if we had to choose between less wind and hot temperatures and more wind, choppy seas and slightly cooler temperatures we would take the calm weather seven days a week. Regardless of a few degrees one way or the other, at Clipperton we are just over six hundred miles north of the equator so warm, humid conditions are no surprise.
Making good speed while traveling down, we have tended to our tackle and covered all the bases in preparation for our noon arrival at the island. Now it is just a matter of waiting out the final few hours before the action begins. Although we have no idea of what we will encounter at the island there is one thing certain. The load of bait we are carrying is without a doubt the finest I have ever seen for fishing Clipperton island. With that in mind our hopes are high for good things to come.
I am happy to report that we are back on line now heading south for beautiful Clipperton island with an epic load of bait on board. This voyage we had money in the bank as we stashed our remaining cocineros from the previous trip with a friend in Cabo for safe keeping while we headed north through the colder zones. The plan worked perfectly as we arrived in Puerto Vallarta with a good head start on the bait ready to supplement our big bait with the perfect caballitos found in the Vallarta region.
True to form however the dreaded Ekstrom bait curse appeared to be alive and well as we struggled through the entire night to catch a whopping twelve caballito. I can only say that following this joyous evening I was too irritated with our bad luck to be tired. As so happens in fishing though, luck has a tendency to change quickly and while we heading to the harbor in full daylight, we stumbled upon the mother lode. Perfect, eight to twelve inch cocineros, twelve to sixteen inch green mackerel, six to eight inch herring, and even a few tube mackerel began raining on and the adrenaline kicked in as we set to the task of filling the wells. As it turned out the bait continued to bite throughout the day while our group of anglers arrived and joined the effort.
I have to admit at this point that I was beginning to get a little greedy waiting around until just after dark to see if we couldn't get a few hundred more caballito. Like the previous night, the hours of dark were the end of the bait fishing and quickly taking the hint, we took off for Clipperton before any misery could set in.
As reported earlier we are now underway for what we hope will be the promised land with perhaps the finest load of bait imaginable for just such an adventure. We will of course keep you informed of our progress so be certain to check in and wish us good luck.
So far so good with two glorious days of traveling weather behind us and one more to go. Typically the final day traveling up from Clipperton is characterized by bumpy conditions and cooler temperatures and at present it looks like today will be a stock run. We don't really have much else to report on as the boat is running well with a beautiful load of both frozen and fresh fish aboard from our final day at Clipperton, and we are taking it nice and easy heading up the line. Capt. Brett Rouintree will be taking the boat on the final leg up to San Diego while I catch the express to spend a couple of days at home with family. I will bring trip photos home tomorrow and post them by Friday. I am really looking forward to this round of photos as we have a new camera that takes phenomenal quality shots. Look for Capt. Rouintree's condition reports while traveling up the line.
We ended on a good note with our final day beginning to show promise of trophy yellowfin moving in. This is so typical of Clipperton fishing that I am far from surprised and although we will never know, I would venture that the fishing at Clipperton heading into the full moon next week will be spectacular. I have commented many times in the past about the rapid transformations this island is famous for and yesterday is yet another example of why we covet the fishing this island has to offer. Two forty six was the big fish of the day yesterday along with half a dozen others in the 170 - 185# class. This was in addition to the numerous other 70 - 130# class fish that have provided us with so much action throughout the trip. Every day the sign of trophy yellowfin continued to develop and fortunately we had just enough time to squeak out one solid trophy before our time at the island was up. I have to admit that this was one of those occasions when the end of our fishing time came way too soon; what I would give to be fishing there today.
Truthfully, had we stayed another day the caliber of the action would have out paced our hold space in very short order. So now we head north with fond memories and what now what feels like only a taste of what the remarkable Clipperton island has to offer. It is amazing how this place will do that to the majority of anglers. Once they experience Clipperton and the unique style of fishing it has to offer, a contagious affection for the island compels them to return. You can probably tell by reading my sentiments that I have the bug and freely offer Clipperton as my favorite fishing destination. It is for this exact reason that while traveling towards home writing this report, I already can't wait for next week when we return for our final Clipperton voyage of 2005.
Now the long part of the journey begins however and fortunately we have fine traveling weather to relax in.
Classic Clipperton style fishing today with afternoon bird schools producing the majority of the action. Again seventy to one hundred thirty pounds was the size average with only a couple of standouts in the one hundred seventy pound class. Prior to the incredible afternoon show of thousands of birds pursuing schools of jumping tuna we took advantage of the morning lull to enjoy some world class snorkeling in the island's pristine waters. I always marvel at the fact that we can be snorkeling or walking on the beach at some part of the day and catching trophy yellowfin within minutes of our welcome diversion from the fishing pursuit. Other than Panama, there really is no where we travel that offers such a unique opportunity to mix in a few activities other than fishing without sacrificing anything in the fishing department.
Once again the end of the day found us wealthy in quantity but still lacking in the trophy department. The trip is not over yet however and we have a few more tricks up our sleeve before the final call tomorrow night.
We have another Clipperton first to report in the form of bait catching that rivaled anything I have seen in the past. A big school of what we call cocinero's showed up under the lights last night and balled up beautifully in an attempt to keep form getting mauled by a variety of predators pursuing them. We knew just what to do in this case and proceeded to load scoop after scoop of the perfect bait sized jacks in our below deck wells. When all was said and done we tanked up on these incredible baits setting a new standard that we honestly hope to ever see again.
Naturally the next question is did we put our good bait fortune to good use? The answer is yes in the form of more sixty to one hundred thirty pound class yellowfin. As always this island is remarkable in it's daily transformations and today was no exception. Before today I was under the impression that there wasn't a whole lot of fish around and that we were very lucky to be putting a catch on board. Following today however, we know that the tuna are plentiful and it is just a matter of time before we stumble on the right bunch holding trophy class fish. Judging by what we saw today, it would not surprise us in the least to see some big fish move in. Let's just hope it happens while we still have time to take advantage of our opportunities.
We will give it another go tomorrow and report accordingly.
At days end we wrangled with a decision that on any normal year would be completely out of the question, even absurd. You see today we only had forty nine yellowfin tuna ranging from sixty to one hundred thirty pounds and a dozen wahoo. This was a very good day of fishing but this year's standards have been thrown out the window by the incredible giant yellowfin tuna action we have all enjoyed at Hurricane bank. Believe it or not we spent a long time considering whether to vacate Clipperton and spend another sixty hours traveling en route for Hurricane for a final day and a half of fishing. Such a plan is logistically crazy but that's how it is with big fish; for us it is an obsession. In the end common sense and perhaps even a little of that conservative thinking that comes with old age prevailed and the decision was made to remain at Clipperton and enjoy not only the excellent fishing action but the beauty of this magical place. Big fish have showed up overnight at this island so many times in the past that we have lost count and that is exactly what we are hoping will happen in the next three days. If you are a fan of Clipperton start pulling for the team because she has some big shoes to fill this season and time (like most memories) is running short.
By about ten a.m. our first day I was getting a sinking feeling about my beloved Clipperton and the potential it was holding for good yellowfin tuna action. As has happened so many times in the past however, just when we were ready to write off our brief time at Clipperton as a short sightseeing detour on a long journey, the tuna showed and provided just enough action to keep us around for another day. Sixty to ninety pounds is the average with a sprinkling of one hundred ten to one hundred thirty pound fish mixed in. This type of sign at Clipperton is excellent and with four full days remaining to fish, it is likely that there are bigger fish to be found. As always there are several challenges to overcome, namely a ravenous shark population in the shallows and equally ravenous mammals in the deeps, but we managed to deal with these effectively so far putting together a fine catch of both yellowfin and wahoo on our first day. Of course we will plan to give it another go tomorrow hoping the percentage of bigger fish increases with time.
Not much to report today as we spent the vast majority of our time traveling arriving at Clipperton just as the evening bell rang. Traditionally the poorest time of day at this island is just before sundown so the fact that we did not see much to report does not have a whole lot of bearing on what the island has to offer. Tomorrow of course we will have a better idea as we are now sitting on a beautiful load of bait we made last night in addition to our caballitos and sardines. Good weather graces the effort so now all we need is some good luck on our side.
It is about this stage of the voyage down that the realization of just how remote Clipperton island really is begins to sink in. Any way you slice it anglers are looking at a run of at least 52 plus hours to reach this incredible destination and that exactly why it remains such a unique part of this world. One has to be committed to fish Clipperton but past rewards have certainly demonstrated that the effort is well worth it. There is just something about catching giant yellowfin with swaying coconut palms, bleach white coral beaches, and thousands of calling seabirds as a backdrop that sets the Clipperton fishery apart from any other known. That said we are still always at the mercy of the fish gods and in another twelve hours we should have a better idea of how our luck is shaping up for this voyage. Look for tomorrow's report with the details.
A fine day of travel that was thoroughly enjoyed by all relaxing in calm conditions and catching up on rest that was lost the night before. We began our instruction and rigging in the early afternoon but most anglers were content to recuperate today and leave the task of setting up their equipment for tomorrow. As we have plenty of distance to cover, calm conditions, and a wealth of time such a plan fit the bill nicely. We continue south at present making good time and will report again tomorrow.
Sad times following our arrival in the much heralded bait grounds of Puerto Vallarta as we struggled through a dusk through dawn mission that yielded no more than one hundred fifty baits. I'm not certain if you are all aware of the Ekstrom mainland Mexico bait curse but it appeared that my three year run of bad luck on catching caballito was strong as ever. As a side note I must point out that despite past poor results on catching caballito for our Clipperton island voyages, we have managed to prevail making incredible catches of trophy yellowfin on big baits we found at Clipperton. This knowledge was little consolation Thursday night however as there is simply no substitute for a beautiful load of caballito when fishing at Clipperton island. With this in mind we elected to give the bait pursuit another go last night before blasting off for Clipperton with whatever bait we had in the hold and our fingers crossed. It was a fortuitous decision.
Although we sacrificed a half day of Clipperton fishing time, we now have a brimming load of caballito and much more confidence while heading for the world's most incredible giant yellowfin tuna fishing destination. It just so happened that last night was completely different with conditions making a one hundred eighty degree turn from the previous night and the bait apparently appreciating the difference. By zero one hundred we had more than enough bait and the next long leg of the journey to Clipperton island began. We are of course satisfied the sacrifice was worth it and needless to say are elated to finally shake the dreaded no caballito catching monkey off our back We are presently cruising south in calm, balmy seas with a beautiful three day weather forecast ahead. Our Clipperton arrival time will be shortly after dark on the evening of the eleventh when we will no doubt be ready to get down to business on catching tuna.
Well our first stop on the baja coast proved unproductive so we continue down the line hoping to find caballito somewhere in the neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta. We are certainly glad to have this extra day to look and with any luck we will find the bait and do some catching before our group of anglers arrives on the eighth. At present we are crossing the bottom of the gulf in beautiful conditions with almost flat calm seas. Tomorrow afternoon we arrive in what we hope will be a productive zone and get down to business on catching bait.
We had a eventful day traveling down attending to projects while preparing the boat for fishing again. We did make a short stop for a few lunch fish and had the opportunity to test drive our new Furuno CH250 sonar while catching a handful of calico bass and seeing fair sign of yellowtail. We probably would have given the fishing effort more time had it not been for sloppy weather trying our patience. Suffice to say that we were very thankful to be traveling south east with the weather on our stern. We plan on a couple of stops today targeting green mackerel before continuing south.
We are finally, finally back up and running following a extended maintenance period that provided plenty of time for many improvements to our beloved Royal Star. In addition to our usual attentions to the cosmetic details, this was a huge year for mechanical projects the most significant of which was the installation of two brand new John Deere 90kw generators. These new state of the art electronic engines will provide plenty of power for the foreseeable future and upgraded our equipment to twenty first century standards. In addition to the generators, we upgraded several other major mechanical systems to ward off potential shortfalls in the vessel's performance. Although our anglers will likely never see the work we accomplish in the mechanical maintenance of Royal Star, we all benefit hugely through dependable, efficient systems that allow us to succeed in the rugged environments we traverse.
What our angers will see this year is a complete overhaul of our staterooms including new wall and overhead coverings as well as carpeting and fixtures. New faucets for the vanities and the replacement of every latch, handle, and hinge we believe will restore our rooms to the standards our customers expect on Royal Star. To finish off the list, a new high definition wide screen monitor now graces the surround sound system for travel entertainment. Of course there are many other small details we attended to that are too numerous to list. The point of course is to let all of you know that we are committed to providing all of you with the finest experience possible when you join us for a long range adventure on Royal Star.
On the subject of fishing, we departed in the early a.m. today planning to work our way down the coast while heading for Puerto Vallarta. We will be fishing for various forms of bait in route and will keep you all posted our success as the voyage unfolds. As we have no scheduled down time until December, look for consistent reports from us commencing now.