Justice at last! The morning started out with scratch fishing on 30-40lbers that produced a total of 42 fish. As the day progressed, the weather got better and the big fish started to show. We had one stop where we hooked two and landed one at 275 and another ripper at sundown for 10 fish, 3 from 211-257 and 7 from 130-190. Those long days of searching just became worth it as everyone aboard will have memories forever of those cows coming up the chumline and the excitement of seven to ten heavies going at once. Needless to say we're spending the night in this area with high hopes for tomorrow.
A long tough day of prospecting with little to show for our efforts aside from a few 25-40lbers. We are going to start back up in the old area tomorrow and hope the big fish was just down yesterday. The weather was choppy again today but it started coming down at dark, hopefully it will glass off for us tomorrow
Unfortunately the big fish didn't show today but we did have fair action on 25-40lb fish. The weather was also uncooperative which hampered the search efforts somewhat. The entire fleet is fanning out to the Southeast tonight so hopefully we get back on them tomorrow.
Very little to report today as we worked down the ridge except for nice weather and an incredible sunset. We are presently heading down to the big fish zone and are hoping to provide you with an exciting report tomorrow, wish us luck.
My final report will be relatively short but sweet as I re - emphasize a bit of advice and bid everyone farewell for the next ten days. The advice: depend on the crew for your rigging instruction as they are the ones that possess actual current knowledge of the setting in which you will be fishing. I can not stress the importance of this advice enough as it has undoubtedly been the key to success for the vessels posting consistent record catches on these beautiful. giant yellowfin tuna. The guys that are presently out here are the best in the world and are proving it almost daily. Why seek advice anywhere else?
For those anglers on upcoming trips following the Christmas/holiday break, it seems that the big fish are settled in. Unless there is some catastrophic change in conditions such as a storm front pushing significant cold water into the region or a major shift in ocean currents, preparations for trophy yellowfin fishing are in order. With the tremendous quantity of giant yellowfin tuna around this season, who knows how long this run can last. I will talk about this more tomorrow on Let's Talk Hookup with Pete Gray as Randy and I are the Saturday guests. I hope you are all listening and if you have questions, please give us a call!
Finally the entire Royal Star crew would like to express our gratitude and extend our sincerest well wishes to every angler venturing a long range voyage with us this season. We wish you a splendid Christmas/holiday season and a prosperous, healthy, happy 2006 full of spiritual satisfaction.
Captain Tim Ekstrom
Captain Randy Toussaint
Captain Brett Rouintree
Captain Sean Bickel
Captain Brian Cook
Veteran crewman Joey Conrad
Crewman Steve Gregonis
Crewman Moses Milton
Chef Tommy Zee
Chef Drew Rivera
Our beloved assistant chef Eduardo Vargas (Eddie)
Office manager Tracy Toussaint.
With a full day of traveling now under our belts, the peak levels of exuberance and accomplishment have not faded for this ecstatic group of fifteen anglers. For that matter the same sentiments, that have prevailed now for over two months, have actually matured in us as the most incredible fishing for giant yellowfin we could ever imagine continues. As I sit here on watch while traveling northward reflecting on a host of interesting, relevant topics, the predominate thought this morning is about numbers of two hundred pound yellowfin being landed and why.
As every previous concept of what constitutes a good long range trip on two hundred pound yellowfin tuna has been cast aside in this insane "going for the record" environment, where do we go from here? Over the past two months we have all experienced/witnessed just how effective our vessels are and how efficient we have become at landing these giant yellowfin tuna. With this in mind in this present atmosphere I feel the need to make several points. First, when fishing is this good the individual scores on boats are the result of crew/operator experience, number of anglers on board or what we call "horsepower", available hold space, and length of fishing time in that order. Being what it is, without minimizing the accomplishments of anyone, I want every angler who has participated in this remarkable fishery to take this into account. What I have experienced and witnessed in others in our fiercely competitive human spirit is the remarkable accomplishments of one voyage cast aside as another returns with yet greater numbers of two hundred pounders. This is nonsense!
Can one imagine being on a fall ten day voyage that catches twenty yellowfin over two hundred pounds, hearing the final score at the dock, and feeling disappointed that the boat didn't catch more when it is discovered that another vessel exceeded their total? It has happened and is happening. Let's take a step back and remember that to begin with the smaller, limited load vessels such as Royal Star and others, fishing side by each with the big boats, simply can not return with greater numbers of fish as their hold space and number of anglers on board are considerably less. If one still wishes to stoke the competitive fire (as I do) observe the per angler average and enjoy a sweet smile of success. Otherwise solely focus on your voyage and cherish every moment. Remember that just two months ago the opportunity to fish for a two hundred pound yellowfin on a fall ten day was considered special and to land one was almost a news worthy event. Trust me, those days will return, so I don't want any anglers to miss out on the appropriate sense of accomplishment they should be feeling following any one of these voyages this season.
All that said I now have to address the fact that the remarkable catches of giant yellowfin being made are not simply the result of luck. Some of the vessels are consistently producing higher averages of two hundred pound yellowfin and it is directly attributed to crew experience and the gear being used. This has been the most remarkable opportunity for all of us to demonstrate our expertise, practice our skill, and apply our knowledge, but most importantly it has been a remarkable opportunity to learn. In addition it has been a remarkable opportunity for crews to teach, and those wanting to learn have become very adept at catching giant yellowfin tuna in short order. Of course the education process sometimes ruffles a few feathers as the "experts" are reacquainted with the fact that we possess history, experience, and results to fortify our instruction, but in the end when that beautiful fish of a lifetime is laying on deck it is all worthwhile.
I can certainly think of more but will end this report expressing admiration for my colleagues, who have done such a remarkable job this season, and gratitude to all anglers who have ventured a fall 2005 long range voyage. All of you were richly rewarded with the greatest fishing the long range fleet has ever experienced and we are thankful that you were here with us. On behalf of this charter group I would also like to thank these businesses and individuals who provided equipment and product for this voyage.
Ken's Custom Reel
Ken Volk Vineyards
In addition I want to personally thank the below listed manufacturers for their incredible, well tested products.
Eagle Claw for the outstanding series 2004, 9/0 hooks.
Smitty rod belts
There are many other fine products worthy of mention but these are exceptional stand outs on Royal Star.
As our day began, chief engineer/second captain Brett Rouintree and I figured that it would take about seventeen to twenty fish to fill our remaining hold space depending on the size class fish landed. In the case of hold space the rule is the bigger they are, the fewer the tanks can hold as there are bigger gaps between the fish that can not be accommodated. As always, our goal is to fill the tanks with the biggest fish possible so we went into our final day with high hopes that the ratio of two hundred pound fish would be good.
Before I continue I must admit that with the exception of our second day momentum has definitely appeared to be in our favor this voyage. In fact, with what occurred yesterday, that second day where we struggled turned out to be a fortuitous event as it placed us in perfect position to take advantage of the opportunities we found.
With the full moon quickly approaching, it was no surprise to see a significant behavior change as the fish spread out on the banks somewhat reverting back to what we saw last month when the boats were able to drift for extended periods of time gathering up fish as they floated along. Although the crazy, wide open action we experienced on several occasions this voyage is the material of legends, the steady pace, long drift, keeping one to four or five fish going at a time is much more civil and actually more productive. This is the exact type action we had today, made to order as our fifteen blissfully weary anglers wound down following the previous two days incredible action. The highlight today, in addition to the once again awesome spectacle of two to three hundred pound class yellowfin hurdling lines in pursuit of baits while tearing the surface apart in breath taking, bomb crater sized boils, was the size class of the fish with eleven more over the two hundred pound mark, six of which were 260 - 288. The remaining five we put aboard were in the one hundred eighty to one hundred ninety eight pound class and although humiliating by this year's standard, will certainly make tasty table fare.
The final tale is an example of generosity and sportsmanship that will long be remembered by this crew. As this group of fifteen anglers had experienced the long range trip of their lives with flat calm weather and action on giant yellowfin tuna that in no way could be better, they decided that the boys, who put their heart and soul into each and every fish that was landed this trip, should have an opportunity to catch a two hundred pounder of their own. Once again the clock was ticking as we left our seven hour drift at two thirty p.m. hoping to find that one last stop for the boys, most of whom have never personally hooked and landed their own two hundred pound yellowfin tuna despite many years of playing a crucial role in so many angler's stories of success. As the afternoon passed into evening and nothing was to be found, it was beginning to appear that fate was not going to smile upon us as sundown came and went and several hours to find something, anything, had now become a few more minutes. With room in the final hold for what we believed to be about three more big fish, and our over two hundred count at thirty seven, our expectations we not soaring, but we hoped, at the very least, to finish the trip in perfect form. Unbelievably enough, with no more than fifteen minutes to spare, there it was. Sonar mark! It was almost dark but the response was immediate as giant yellowfin erupted on the stern while the crew and I raced to the rail giddy as children amidst the deafening cheers and friendly cajoling of our group of well satiated anglers. At this point I'd love to tell you that we all hooked and landed big cows but we didn't. For the most part the final school was all show but we did manage to land - three, a 214, a 233, and a 278. Congratulations to Joey Conrad, Chef Tommy Zee, and Sean Bickel all of whom gave an exemplary performance while landing their first two hundred pound yellowfin. With those final three, the big fish (over two hundred) tally rose to an even forty and the remaining hold space was no more. A perfect ending for a perfect trip.
Now comes the two day ride up the line that should be kind if the weather forecasters are correct. We will have plenty of time to celebrate and reflect and I will certainly find something of interest to write about during the next two days. For now we are wholly satisfied and sincerely grateful for the good fortune the ocean has bestowed upon us.
This was another very good day for Royal Star beginning with a nice morning hit on cows, followed by what has become the standard mid day lull, and then came the evening. Now I know that I have been fishing for many years, and I have seen many incredible bites on trophy yellowfin, but I can not recall ever participating in a more memorable stop on giant yellowfin than we had yesterday evening. The amazing thing is that there has been so much of this type action over the past two months that I fear the stories have almost become mundane to many readers following along on the websites. I was actually pondering this thought yesterday evening as we were put to the ultimate test, again, with literally every man on board plastered to the rail with a charged up trophy yellowfin at the end of his line. The thought I was having was "this can never get old" as I witnessed a sight from the bait tank perch that I only wish I could adequately describe.
As fifteen anglers and seven crewmen were all taking part in the performance of their lives, the school of giant (and I do mean GIANT) yellowfin that we located just after sundown came alive chasing a school of pelagic baitfish up from the deeps. Prior to this spectacle, the surface show was already incredible with 175 - 300# yellowfin crashing all around, clearing the water in spectacular leaps, and leaving huge caverns in the ocean surface where they rose to slurp a hapless bait. When the giant yellowfin chased the school of bait up from deep water, the doomed finfish charged for the protection of Royal Star, but unfortunately for them, most didn't make it. A huge foamer erupted about twenty yards downwind of the boat and did not stop until it literally reached the hull. Like I said, I have seen many outrageous bites on trophy yellowfin over the years, but the sight of two hundred, two hundred fifty, and who knows how big size yellowfin wreaking havoc on a school of bait within a gaff length of our hull is visual that is almost too much to process. In fact it was so remarkable it was surreal, two hundred pound class yellowfin, so huge they looked like dolphins, were plowing through in groups and pairs unfazed by the fact that our vessel was there. With only fifteen anglers on board and every one of them wrangling with a trophy fish, the hundreds of giant tuna around us went about their business almost unmolested by any lines with hooks in them.
I could continue. I could talk about the most incredible bites anglers had; two or three pulls off the reel and whoosh, and huge tuna engulfs the bait and you're on! But I think I have got the point across - there is simply no way I could ever convey just how incredible these sights and sounds are. That's right, sounds. That is a story for another day. The sounds of these giant tuna boiling around the boat is incredible. Anyway following this day of fishing we elected to spend our final day in the trophy yellowfin zone if for nothing else just to live the possibility of experiencing something this incredible again. Of course there are no guarantees in fishing and as such we are hoping at the very least to finish off on a high note; not that we haven't already.
Last but not least, I believe the total was a bakers dozen over two hundred today with another dozen "puny" one seventy five to one ninety eight's.
Back in the saddle today with six more over two hundred and another nineteen in the 175 - 190# class. Once again the morning was not our time but the afternoon more than made up for it with a couple of excellent stops that featured incredible surface action with trophy yellowfin blowing out all around the boat and eating baits right next to the hull. Similar to the previous days there were no guarantees of success, we just happened to be among the chosen ones today with a couple of lucky stops that added up to a very good day. As the most perfect weather one can hope for continues to hold, we will be spending our fourth day targeting trophies tomorrow before venturing a decision as to what will come the following day. Needless to say spirits are soaring and we hope to keep the ball rolling with another day of good fortune tomorrow.
Like I said "this is no lead pipe cinch", and it wasn't for us as we did a lot of looking today and only a little catching. Fortunately the half dozen specimens we did land were all respectable including a 267 and a 210. Overall the picture remains favorable with decent signs around and epic working weather, but the fish was scattered out over a wide area today and really on the move. Nevertheless there were a few decent scores among our fleet giving us plenty of reason to be optimistic about tomorrow and beyond. With two or three days remaining down here, we can only hope these fish will go on the bite again in a big way before our time comes to an end.
Even though the signs were still around, I was beginning to feel genuine concern when three forty five p.m. rolled around, the sun was getting low, and our grand total for the day was two fish landed from a couple of excruciatingly slow morning drifts. We had almost come to terms with the fact that it was not to be our day, and even did a little sniveling to that effect with our comrades on the radio. Everyone out here does what it takes to pass the time and change their luck and it seems at one point or another we all resort to sniveling when all else fails. It just so happened that it worked for us today as no more than ten passed following a lengthy discussion full of gloom that we ran across a incredible spot of trophy yellowfin that placed these fifteen anglers in the scene they have been dreaming of for almost two months. I can honestly say that I have never seen big fish bite better. In fact, it was too good, and ironically, these big tuna anglers discovered that even fifteen men at the rail of the ninety five foot Royal Star can find their way into big trouble when the fishing is this red hot. Yes, we had a few mix ups as we literally had every single angler pulling on a 160 - 230# tuna several times during this late afternoon ripper, but this expert crew navigated tremendous obstacles minimizing the damage in a couple of horrendous scenarios. Six over two hundred was our grand total and another nineteen from 160 - 195 for the late afternoon ripper that cast a beaming glow over our first day.
And so it continues, and how grateful we are to be a part of. Absolutely beautiful, flat calm weather, an ample supply of perfect bait, a group of anglers living the dream of a lifetime, and four days to go. We can only hope to be as fortunate tomorrow as this was no lead pipe cinch today. As initially reported however, the signs are still here and conditions continue to be favorable so our hopes are definitely slanted in a positive direction.
Following one and a half days of travel in the most perfect weather one can imagine, we arrived at the top end of the ridge with plans to spend a few hours plugging away at the wahoo before continuing down the line for the trophy yellowfin zone. As one would expect, we have no interest in targeting school size yellowfin yet as the size average down below deems it unnecessary. This is not to say we are snubbing our noses at school fish in general however as we are all too familiar with the cyclical nature of fishing and the unnerving possibility that the remarkable fishing for giant yellowfin over the past few weeks is nothing we can count on. In fact, reports from down below have been far from stellar over the past couple of days although there are still signs of the big ones around and a relative (to last week) few being put aboard.
By the end of the day tomorrow we will have a much better feel for things of course and I will be able to venture a more current opinion. Let us hope that good fortune awaits us as the anxiety following these two full days of travel is enough to power a small city, or at least fifteen anglers pulling to their hearts content on giant yellowfin tuna.
Well I am finally back out and ready to have at it following a unexpected break in my schedule brought on by a unfortunate, serious health crisis with my dad. It is a tough circumstance to process, that I know many others have, so now we head back out to sea with soaring hopes that the tremendous action on giant yellowfin continues to hold. Needless to say it has been a long three weeks listening to the incredible catches down the line and a longer two months for the anglers scheduled on this voyage, so off we go with a incredible load of bait and fifteen anglers on this private charter that was, unbelievably enough, designed two years prior for this exact scenario. Every possible factor we can control in presently in our favor, and as such the fishing success of this voyage is now up to luck in timing. Let us hope that good fortune smiles upon us in the form of good weather and good fishing.
We had one decent shot this morning for 45 nice yellows but came up with very little for the afternoon. We called it a trip this evening and are presently anchored up in the beautiful lee of Cedros enjoying dinner before traveling up. Our eta for Monday morning is 0730. We will have a night in before Tim comes back out on the 6th on another 10-day, look for his reports on the 7th.
We enjoyed another day of flat calm weather while fishing the ridge for 10 nice wahoo, 45 yellows, and a few school tuna. We are traveling up tonight and will fish Cedros tomorrow hoping for quality yellows. The fishing in the big fish zone remains incredible.
We were off the fish for the better part of the day but managed to get back on them just before dark. With only one fish over 200 aboard at 4:00 pm, we slid into a spot and were treated to an incredible show and boated 9 fish, 6 of which were over 200. A fitting way to end our stay in the big fish grounds. We are enjoying a beautiful ride this evening and plan to fish our way up the line trying for a little variety.
I guess I started some conflict with the short topshot groupies with my prior posts so I'm going to try to give a little insight into rigging for this particular bite. Keep in mind that no one wants to land these big ones more than my crew and I, if a method of rigging or certain product was superior to another, we would be the first to embrace it.
Short topshots (under 20 yds) have one advantage, they get bit better because there is less drag on the bait, thus making it look more natural. Once the fish is hooked, the disadvantages come into play. Spectra has no stretch so when you combine choppy weather and 200lb plus fish, your losses will skyrocket due to pulled hooks and gear breakage. What has been so unique about this Fall's fishing has not only been the size of the fish but how well they are biting. With this in mind, the short topshots haven't been the way to go for the fishing so far this season. Short topshots, and even fluorocarbon have their place and can be an important part of one's arsenal but don't commit all your outfits to such rigging. This gear comes into play when it is scratch fishing, which it hasn't been.
If you are on an upcoming Royal Star trip I recommend two main rigs for the big fish: a 50w with comparable rod and 100yds of 100lb mono over 130lb spectra. A 50w with comparable rod and 100yds of 130lb or 50yds of 150lb over 130lb spectra.