Posted: 06:57:00

I just wanted to post a quick update for all Royal Star anglers to inform them of our maintenance progress before posting the next round of photos. At this point Royal Star has enjoyed a complete face lift from the top deck to the keel with a spanking new paint job that should last at least three or four years. Cosmetics have been the main thrust this year with most of our mechanical systems in good working order. Of course there are always mechanical projects to attend to, regardless of how well everything is operating, and we have been fine tuning our refrigeration, A/C, and head system to that effect. Everything is on schedule for our April 15th departure on the John Petty eleven day fly down/fly back and we are anxiously anticipating our return to the fishing part of our work schedule. Finally, we have a couple of very significant announcements pending in the crew department that will be a huge benefit to all Royal Star anglers. Look for more news right here as we arrange the finishing touches and enjoy the photos.


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Posted: 06:45:00

I have been waiting to express my sentiments on the tagging aspect of this voyage to allow plenty of time for reflection before I attempted to convey what I experienced through close observation of our anglers throughout the trip. To some, it may not have occured that captains of these vessels must not only be master seamen and consistently productive fishermen, but they also must be keenly attuned to the overall tenor of their groups as well as the sentiments of individual anglers if they are operating within the full capacity of their job description.

In the case of this voyage, because the concept and practice of complete tag and release is so far beyond the parameters of a regular long range excursion, I was especially observant watching for even the smallest indications of how anglers were processing the tagging activities and most importantly, if they were enjoying themselves and having a good time.
One key observation, that was identical to last year's Revilla tagging expedition, was that the act of tagging the fish, prior to release, adds a miraculous element to the battle that both verifies the angler's success and justifies the hard effort expended. I don't know exactly how to put it other than to say when that tag connects, the battle is won, and the successful angler, and everyone within eyesight, gives a satisfied "yeah" while extending genuine accolades for the tangible accomplishment. The second part of the process, that is equally as inspiring, especially in the case of the archival tag surgeries, is the angler and all others present genuinely cheering for the released fish as it regains it's wits and gracefully swims away altered, but unharmed by the experience. That is a feeling of satisfaction completely different from any long range voyage other than one that offers the ability to tag and release fish.

Last year I did my best to describe the same feature of these voyages and felt that my effort either fell short of it's goal or was simply dismissed because the idea is so foreign to the vast majority of long range anglers. "How can I possibly have a good time if I can't keep any fish?" is the standard question among the skeptics who cling to the old school measure of fishing success like a dog worrying over a bone. Believe me, you can. After discussing the topic with many of this year's participants we collectively decided that there really is no way to express the feeling in words; one simply has to be there.
On board this voyage was a remarkable young man named Drue Cicchetto who at seventeen years of age paid for the voyage and tag donation with his own hard earned, well saved money to create his senior high school project as a student at High Tech High school in San Diego. While taking numerous photos of the tag and release process, this naturally observant young man made an insightful comment that really summed up what I had been feeling the entire trip. Ironically, he made the comment following the release of a one hundred forty pound class fish carrying an electronic tag that was caught by the one angler on board that had a somewhat grumpy disposition. As the fish was released out the boarding gate, our standard practice of recruiting the triumphant angler to assist the process with a shove on the tail was recorded, as it was many times this voyage, by young Drue. As the fish made a perfect entry and darted away a photo was simultanously snapped. When the camera was lowered Drue's comment was "God I wish I could capture that look on everyone's face; it's the same every time when they see their fish swim away". I looked up quickly to catch even grumpy with a beaming smile on his face and a delighted expression that spoke a thousand words.

Although I realize I won't change any minds here, I had to pass along these thoughs as they are so unique to these tagging voyages. Keep in mind also that I am a fisherman who makes his living catching and keeping fish. I don't entertain the thought of pure catch and release fishing, other than when tagging or in select fisheries, being the "way to go" in long range sport fishing. I am simply reporting what I experienced and informing all those reading these reports that I, the consummate, veteran fisherman, sincerely enjoy and cherish these tagging experiences.

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Posted: 08:54:00

With this group of photos I want to mention a couple of products we had the opportunity to use last trip that survived our closest scrutiny with flying colors. Along with the tags AFTCO donated to the project, the guys sent some of the new AFTCO shorts and a couple of AFTCO harnesses for us to ?test?. As far as the harness is concerned, most long range anglers probably know of our long time preference for the OTR style harness that we have supported for many years. The new AFTCO harness, in addition to having all the features we like so much in the OTR, has an additional, highly useful feature that no other harness boasts ? a well attached, durable handle on the back. Now most anglers probably wouldn?t give this feature much thought, but I can?t tell you how many combined hours we have spent with our hands clinched on the back of angler?s harnesses or holding on to the side straps as an he/she negotiates a pitching rolling deck with an angry giant game fish pulling twenty five or more pounds of drag on the other end. For safety, security, and functionality, the AFTCO harness presently can not be beat. It is another perfect example of the fact that the guys designing AFTCO fishing products are actual fishermen with specific knowledge of the long range industry. If you are in the market for a new harness, we highly recommend AFTCO model if it provides the correct fit for you.

Finally, the new AFTCO shorts, while initially met with skepticism by our entire, FISHWORKS loyal crew, were worn throughout the voyage in comfort. They are excellent if the style is to your liking and will, in line with all AFTCO products, hold up to the rigors of offshore fishing environment.
Enjoy today?s photos and look forward to plenty more.


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Posted: 02:18:00

After all was said and done, I realized that missing among the tagging trip statistics are the six yellowfin tuna over two hundred pounds released carrying conventional tags. In addition, there were at least another ten yellowfin in the one hundred seventy five to one hundred ninety pound class released. Overall, especially when fishing at Isla Socorro, it was difficult to keep track at times because the size average of the fish was so extraordinary. In the case of the two hundred pound tuna though, all but one were measured with the one unmeasured fish being obviously well over the two hundred mark. Enjoy the photos and remember to keep reviewing the daily reports until they are all posted from the last trip.


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Posted: 15:56:11

Upon return to San Diego yesterday I made the disappointing discovery that at least four of the reports I had diligently authored and sent daily did not make our current conditions section due to interruptions with the satellite carrier. Needless to say I can?t begin to express my frustration without launching into a tirade. I am especially bothered by the break in continuity as the progression of the last voyage to the Revillagigedo islands was so fantastic and interesting. So, after viewing the photos that I will be posting during the next five or six days, perhaps those of you reading the reports would like to revisit the daily updates from the beginning. At present, I have successfully resent all but one report, and that final missing dialogue should be posted today. The posts from February 19th, and 26th are now up in sequence and the 25th is coming shortly. Enjoy the photos and the reading, as I sincerely enjoyed the opportunity to share the information, and a few observations, with everyone as the voyage unfolded. My thanks to all those reading the reports and I hope to see many of you at the Fred Hall Show next week.

Tim Ekstrom

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