Wow, apparently there is plenty of curiosity and speculation out there as to where we found this incredible area of big fish. Outside the line at Isla Clarion is the answer. I have to admit that the idea was not original as Captain Brian Sims, formerly of the Q105, passed along information from his final voyage two weeks prior that indicated good sign of big fish in that vicinity. I will say that it made for a lot of running during the day, as the stop and go style fishing consisted of chasing bird schools and areas of black dolphins that were wild, and difficult to catch up with the vast majority of the time, but, as reported, it only takes one or two lucky stops to find success. I also must add that especially when the weather was disagreeable, the opportunity to run into the lee of the island and anchor at night was a much appreciated slice of heaven.
This has been a regular routine during the 2007 winter/spring long trip season that many of us have been following with varying degrees of success. In the case of this voyage, luck in timing was obviously in our favor, and believe me, we recognize and appreciate every bit of good fortune that comes our way. Just to throw it out there however, I'll tell you that I have learned more about the area outside the islands - San Benedicto, Soccorro, Roca Partida, and Clarion in the past two years of tagging and standard fishing voyages, than I did in a long time running trips to the islands when we had full access. As happens so often in fishing, necessity and/or adversity is the mother of invention. After these past two seasons working in the outside waters surrounding the Revillagigedo's, I can say with certainty that for many years we were missing a fishery for giant yellowfin with HUGE potential. Every trip we are learning that much more, and this trip was another big lesson. I am glad I was there for it.
We arrive at Fisherman's Landing this morning, Saturday, May 26 and as reported will be tying up for five days before getting back on line with a series of one and one half day voyages. We spent our final day of travel yesterday looking for offshore sign in beautiful, flat calm weather. With good weather and plenty of time in our favor, we worked our way up the outside track in search of any sign for the fleet to work on. Nothing to report as such but many times, especially early in the season, it is just as important to know where not to go. In this respect we performed our job admirably as the fleet coming down can now check our track from yesterday off the list. So with that we sign off and will post a few trip photos during the next few days. Look for our fishing reports to commence again after June first.
O.K. For all you statistics buffs here is the big fish tally direct from the board. It seems that my mental tally was a little conservative during the big couple of days of offshore/birdschool fishing at the end of our voyage, but that is not unusual as most of those who have fished with me can attest to. Nineteen over two hundred pounds is the grand total with one of those weighing 324 and two of the nineteen released by visionary angler Bruce Posthumus. The real story in the yellowfin over two hundred pounds is not the quantity however but the quality with an average weight of two hundred fifty one pounds. These weren't just the average two hundred to two hundred fifteen pounders we encounter so often offshore associating with the big black dolphins. This was a school of straight jumbos that are certain to impress when we pull them from the hatch tomorrow.
On that note, our arrival time is scheduled for 0700, Saturday, May 26th and we will likely begin unloading the fish around 0745 - 0845. If any of you would like to visit Fisherman's Landing tomorrow and see some beautiful giant yellowfin being unloaded, your company is always welcome. Otherwise we will arrive tomorrow morning and remain at the dock next week through Friday, June 1st when we begin our series of one and one half day introduction to long range voyages through Sunday, June 17th.
Today, with a little extra time in our favor following yet another day of flat calm weather traveling northward, we plan to do a little prospecting for albacore and bluefin tuna on the outside. We actually saved a couple scoops of bait in the event we had a little extra time so we are well prepared in the event we run across anything significant. Look for our final fishing report with the details tomorrow as we hope our incredible good fortune extends to become a few albacore today.
What a beautiful day of traveling in crystal clear atmospheric conditions with light winds and close to flat calm seas. A minor offshore swell is all there was to make the boat easily rise or sway on occasion; just enough motion to remind us we were northwest bound three hundred miles offshore on our trek towards San Diego. Naturally the mood, buoyed by the fantastic weather, was light, and the majority of the day was spent relaxing and reminiscing about the incredible good fortune we all shared. We have another perfect traveling forecast for the day ahead, and plenty more time to shore up our memories with the combined observations of everyone on board. I have no question that the stories will be grand following this adventure, and without a doubt, these anglers have earned big bragging rights. Of course that part of being a fisherman - returning from a successful voyage with glorious memories to share of scenes we have only dreamt of etched in our minds, is almost as good, and definitely as important, as the catching itself. So, if I may be so bold as to offer some wisdom to all the wives and significant others out there who must endure this ritual following every successful voyage. Listen with keen interest, applaud your fisherman's success with sincerity, and share in their glory. And when you have had enough, send them off to the local tackle store to purge some more. Like I said, this part of the ritual is almost as important as the trip itself. For some (bless their souls because these huge supporters inspire many more anglers to venture a long range trip) it may even be more important. Thank you ahead of time. We will report again tomorrow.
What a fantastic example this voyage has been of how dynamic offshore fishing can be, and how remarkable long range fishing is. Think about it. Just four days ago, we were suffering through hideously slow fishing getting tossed around in a relentless, sloppy sea, looking at tons of big tuna that would not eat anything to save our lives. Five entire days this drudgery continued and despite our best efforts to remain positive, even the best of us began to succumb to the tightening noose of defeatism. Then, in a matter of one day, the weather turned, and along with the change the tuna began biting a little; the rest is history. Through our reporting you all had the opportunity to witness the change and the escalation of the fishing from good to better to spectacular.
Our final morning was the icing on the cake as we searched to find only a couple of fish and ravenous sharks until just about departure time at nine a.m. Then it happened. One pass out into deep water produced exactly what we were hoping for - a good school of straight big yellowfin roaming in search of a mid morning meal. As it was our final stop, and our time was up, there was no reason to hold anything back, and all I can say is that these anglers, who have been witness to just about every face of the ocean this voyage, ended their trip with a memory of tuna one hundred forty to as big as three hundred pounds plowing around the boat, eating everything in sight, in crystal clear blue water and beautiful overhead sunlight. The sights around the boat were so spectacular that it was almost unbelievable as giant yellowfin erupted in every direction, flew from the water in champion leaps, and fearlessly cruised within a few feet of the hull asserting their authority as apex predators in this region. At one point during this well orchestrated melee, every single angler was tied into a mean, incredibly tough giant yellowfin tuna, that was made even tougher by the hoard of sharks that arrived on schedule to share in the spoils. Absolutely incredible. Honestly, I can't even begin to do the setting justice in my description; it was that good.
So we ended up with fifteen more trophies from our final stop, one of which tipped the scale at two hundred fifty six pounds. All the others were in the one hundred forty to one hundred eighty pound class. We definitely went through three or four more big cows that were lost to the usual reasons of pulled hooks and shark predation, but the percentage of big cows in our final stop was either a little lower today, or the younger fish were just more aggressive. Not that it mattered. It was an incredible note to end the trip on and needless to say every angler on board is presently on cloud nine.
Before I sign off, I have to mention my crew who during the past three days have demonstrated the finest, professional attributes and character that we take great pride in demonstrating on Royal Star. You all know we disdain self aggrandizement but these young men deserve immense credit for their spectacular performance. Take the incredibly high stakes of this type of fishing combined with the extreme intensity of giant yellowfin tuna biting with complete abandon, and you have a situation ripe for chaos complete with screaming and yelling, utter panic, and loss of control. Any breakdown on the part of the crew in these circumstance inevitably leads to disaster as anglers become punching bags for the big yellowfin that simply drag them around until the are lost from a thousand different possible calamities. These "real deal" scenarios, where the big fish get with the program and test our abilities may only happen a handful of times per season, if we are lucky, and on these occasions, anglers who have never witnessed a professional crew's capabilities in exteme circumstances, discover the value, and earn great respect for the professsional ability these men possess.
As an example of what I am attempting to express, I'll reference our final stop yesterday that is a perfect example of the type of situation I am describing above. During that stop, literally every angler on board, eighteen to be exact, were simultaneously pulling to the extent of their ability and doing everything in their limited power under the circumstances to follow their angry opponent, stay out of trouble, and prevail in the contest. There were times during that hour of unbelievable intensity, that twelve of the eighteen anglers were stacked in the bow, each one with a angry demon of a fish on the end of their line racing around, doubling back, and doing everything in their power to escape the pressure being applied on the opposite end of the line. Do you know how many fish were lost to tangles in this nightmare scenario, that at times with all the crisscrossing lines resembled one of those laser guarded museum statues or bank vault protection systems so dramatically projected in hollywood productions? Not one. Do you know how much shouting there was and how many tempers flared as the situation, barely in control, could have erupted from the sheer pressure and tension? None. This crew, with many years working together as a team, and extensive experience in these exact situations, kept their cool, maintained their composure, communicated with one another, and were solely resposible for an amazing catch coming aboard. As a part of the team, I can take some of the credit, but these guys, regardless of my presence, have it handled all the way.
So that is enough for now. We have three days of uphill travel ahead of us and fortunately have a beautiful forecast for cruising. I will likely have more thoughts to share so keep following along until our arrival on Saturday the 26th.
After what we experienced yesterday, I have a hard time, other than ridiculous fantasizing, scripting a better scenario, and a more fitting end to a voyage that began on such a dubious note. Not that it is over yet; we still have our final morning to shake out, but with yesterday's results in the hatch, we could depart right now and practically float home on our euphoric spirits. Twenty eight yellowfin was the total yesterday with twelve coming in over the two hundred mark, six of which were 260 to 289, and one that weighed in at a whopping three hundred twenty four pounds! Of the remaining "smaller" two hundred pounders, all were two thirty to two hundred fifty six pounds.
Don't ask me why or how, but I can say that the weather, that has been giving us grief throughout the voyage, finally laid down and was almost flat calm. Also, water conditions changed markedly with different current and fathometer life likely motivating a new feeding pattern. Whatever the reason, we were well prepared and ready to take advantage of the golden opportunity presented. Special mention goes to every angler on board as it was no picnic dealing with ferocious sharks throughout the day. The incorrigble brown miscreants wreaked havoc almost every time we stopped the boat, stealing baits, tearing up equipment, and eating a number of the smaller fish, but amazingly opted to only chase ninety five percent of the giant yellowfin we hooked without taking a nip.
It was such a spectacular day and every angler did so well that I can't really single anyone out, but I have to say that long time "sharkmaster" Allen Hartman finally had the well deserved fishing day of his life with a 289, 263, and a two hundred thirty four pounder at day's end. Needless to say his taking of fish is over for the trip as he landed an entire voyage's dream catch yesterday in only four or five hours. Big congratulations to Allen who has earned great respect in the world of long range angling. Finally, extra special mention goes to Jerry Nguyen who gets the honors for the jumbo three twenty four landed from a mid day drift. Nursing a sore rib from a wipeout earlier in the trip, Jerry enlisted the help of his brother Brian Nguyen of Shimano America to tag team his big fish in. The strategy was a glowing success and proved to be a incredibly special experience for two brothers who are already thicker than thieves. Like I said it is almost an injustice to single anyone out as every angler did a fantastic job yesterday. All these anlgers had their equipment prepared, and earned propers as such.
So with yesterday's success, the original plan to depart with time for a day at Alijos rocks to break up the ride was scrapped. With only a few hours in the morning before must take off for home, we are looking for our remarkable good fortune to extend just a little bit more. Even if it doesn't however, you won't find us complaining. Look for tomorrow's report with the final details.
Well we always say one good stop is all it takes to make a day, or in some cases even make a trip. Yesterday was a testament to this belief as scant results on the wahoo and a long, slow day of waiting came to an abrupt end at just after five p.m. Fortunately, following yesterday's example of how fast things can turn around, our anglers were well prepared for the possibility of some good tuna action; and a good thing it was. One school of one hundred to one hundred forty pound yellowfin moved in late and brought their appetite with them biting with complete abandon for a good thirty minutes before easing off to crash around the boat and clean up a few baits that survived the initial onslaught. Again the sharks were a factor, but these anglers prevailed from our first of two stops, landing fourteen of the better size yellowfin unscratched through the gang of relentless offenders. I can't say the same for round two, where the sharks were the obvious victors in the skirmish, but because of our success in the first round, spirits remained high regardless. So passes another day with mercifully improved weather conditions and plenty good enough fishing to view tomorrow with eager optimism. We are looking to conclude our time below on a good note and will find out if the fish god's continue to view us with favor tomorrow.
The fish gods showed a much kinder disposition today finally relenting and allowing us some good fishing action. A good percentage of the yellowfin we landed were below the typical grade we hope for on these trips, but that hardly mattered to many of these anglers who had yet to hook a tuna this voyage. All that changed yesterday however as we finally found a school that wanted to cooperate. They weren't all fifty to seventy pounders either as seven of the yellowfin landed yesterday pushed one hundred fifty to one hundred seventy pounds and one bruiser for well known veteran Craig Drummond weighed in at a whopping two ninety two. Needless to say we were in desperate need of some positive change and although yesterday won't be remembered as the best day in long range fishing history, the measure of success is all relative. So the battle continues and we are definitely feeeling better about our odds tomorrow providing conditions remain in our favor.
Same program today with little change to report as another full day of effort was directed towards enticing a robust quantity of big yellowfin tuna that were wholly apathetic to our cause. If anything, I would say that the tuna were even more wary today skulking around the boat when we stopped, and sliding ahead of and around us when we were in motion doing their best to prevent the boat from driving over the top of them. The bright moment of the morning was a 220# fish landed by long time Royal Star favorite Mike Noerenberg that made a spectacular explosion when it surfaced to consume Mike's perfectly presented live flyer in the early dawn. Mike's trophy yellowfin, like all the others we have landed thus far, was jugged full of what we call "box fish", which is often the kiss of death for those of us attempting to catch big tuna in these regions. For whatever reason, when the yellowfin shift into grazing mode in the deep water, they appear to almost shut down their surface feeding instincts with the exception of an occasional fish that deviates from the pattern. Needless to say this situation, being familiar to us from more than a few year's past experience, has us gravely concerned, but we are clinging to the hope that something will change for the better by the time we must throw the towel in.
At the very least, we continue to scratch away at the wahoo that seem determined to make up for some of what the tuna fishing is leaving to be desired. No matter how I frame it though, fishing at present is very tough and thank goodness this group of seasoned anglers knows the score. The only option for us at this juncture is to keep at it with grit and determination, and as there are no quitters in this group, that is our exact game plan for the next few days. There have been more than a few past trips turned around using this format, so tomorrow the battle continues.
Much better weather and much better sign of fish today with a obvious change in conditions producing a very different "feel" to the place by mid afternoon. I can't say there was a profound effect on the catching however as we continue to look at the vast majority of what is here hoping that it will happen before our time in the arena expires. So another day of kicking, clawing, and scratching our way along added to the cause with a handful of 140 - 190# yellowfin as well as another fifteen wahoo. At this pace we are actually accumulating a decent amount of fish that will become respectable and plenty sufficient if we don't drop the ball over the next few days. Of course we have much higher expectations than barely staying alive by scratching, so we will continue the effort and hope our opportunity is coming.
We caught a few fish here today but it is almost a stretch to call it a slow scratch. We managed to keep busy between dragging the kite baits around, trolling for a few wahoo, and a series of different anchor jobs looking for the perfect position, but despite all our efforts, production is still at a minimum. The signs are here though, with good sign of bigger tuna around the boat in the dark and in the a.m. hours, so we are yet to be discouraged, and far from down and out. These are the kind of circumstances that build character as I like to say, and in my case, and everyone else on board at present, they have a long way to go before we crack. Suffice to say we are taking it one day at a time, and with better weather in the forecast, tomorrow promises an improvement on that merit alone. We will see and report accordingly.
After looking in the hatch at day's end yesterday, I realized I might have gotten a little carried away in my description of how poor the fishing was. What I failed to mention is that we have scratched a decent score of wahoo in between our efforts to catch the big yellowfin and the "skinies" are now adding up down below. I don't want to mischaracterize the situation however. We are having to earn every fish we are putting aboard through hard effort and time at the rail. The one encouraging note of the previous twenty four hour period is that we saw very, very good sign of big yellowfin around the boat in the dark hours and managed to put three beauties on board using the heavy jigs including a one ninety seven for Royal Star veteran Ron Ury. This interesting change has definitely piqued my interest is giving us something to look forward to when darkness falls tonight. In the meantime we will keep plugging away at the wahoo and hope these plentiful tuna will get with the program soon.
Well I'd love to tell a tale of glory complete with images of conquest and triumph, but the stark reality of Hurricane bank when it is off the bite just won't allow it. Not that we are struggling from a lack of sign, poor conditions, shark problems, or a lack of fish; all of those crucial elements are in order. These fish here are simply off the bite and so far are shunning all but a few of our best offerings. Hurry up and wait is the present solution to our dilemma, as we are still in a favorable position with decent weather, perfect bait, and plenty of time. We are not counting our money yet however, as we have a long way to go before we get any monkeys off our back. In the meantime we are pulling out all the stops conjuring up every trick in the book to entice these plentiful, reluctant big tuna to show some courage and take a bait.
Arrival at "the bank" this morning promises release as the three day ride down has allowed plenty of time for anticipation to build. The anxiety is quickly diffused upon arrival though as the long ride down is forgotten amidst the adrenaline pumping thrill of fresh line peeling off perfectly tuned reels, and the image of magnificent wahoo and yellowfin tuna coming over the rail. That is how we hope day one will unfold anyway and we are soon to discover what mother nature has in store for us when we arrive in the next hour.
Not much to report today other than a uneventful ride down that continues to include plenty of slipping and sliding as we travel down in sloppy conditions from the Northwest. We did make several quick drifts for a handful of yellowtail around Alijos rocks, but only dedicated about an hour to the effort in the choppy, disrupted conditions. Although we cetainly did not make a full hearted effort at catching a bunch of fish to put in the hatch, I can report that yellowtail on the machines were abundant, and conditions were excellent for this time of year. I have no doubt that a vessel heading towards Alijos on a eight day voyage at present would find very good fishing for yellowtail and perhaps good fishing for yellowfin tuna as well.
So the ride continues, and it presently looks like we will be arriving at the bank just after daylight tommorrow. Reports from the bank presently indicate plenty of big yellowfin tuna jumping and good signs of wahoo. In addition, it sounds like a few offshore shark fishing boats have thinned out the frustrating local nemesis to a fishable level. We're keeping our fingers crossed that such is the case.
In the meantime, for any and all mothers reading today's posting, I wish you all the finest mother's day imaginable. Take a day appreciate all the good you do and make sure your man does the same. Happy Mother's Day!
We enjoyed a tranquil day of traveling south tending to the standard tasks of rigging and preparing our tackle at a relaxed steady pace. In the case of this voyage, the core group of Royal Star veterans is well versed in this style of fishing and as such, the crew and I have enjoyed the oportunity to share good company and ideas with our anglers as much as assist with actual rigging. Not that we are on vacation by any means, but the fact that these anglers are well prepared for the basics definitely makes for a much appreciated, easier time of it. In the weather department, I can report with certainty that we would not be having an easy time of it if we were heading in the opposite direction. Twenty to twenty five knots of wind at times with accompanying six to nine foot seas has us surfing and sliding on our down hill ride and we are plenty satisfied to be making way to the south. We will see what the weather doles out today as we initially planned on a quick stop by Alijos Rocks to catch a few fish for the galley and break up the ride a bit. If the weather remains contrary however, we will postpone the stop by Alijos for the ride home towards the end trip. Otherwise all is well and we will report in again tomorrow.
Well this will be a refreshing change for our current conditions section that has been sadly quiet during the past two months. Between a dead computer during Randy's last voyage and forty days shore side for maintenance, there has been little activity in the cyber world of Royal Star. There has been much activity in the real world however as our drive to improve the operation has produced a very significant change that we feel will be to the benefit of all future Royal Star anglers.
Beginning in June 2007, Captain Brian Sims, a favorite Royal Star crewman, chief engineer, and second captain for many years who moved to the Qualifier 105 in 2001 to establish his own successful, well respected position in the long range fishing industry, will be joining Royal Star Sport Fishing as a Captain and percentage owner into the foreseeable future. We will sorely miss Captain Brett Rouintree's invaluable contribution's to Royal Star as he takes a break from the world of long range sport fishing to serve as chief engineer on a offshore albacore fishing vessel, but eagerly anticipate Brian's arrival in June.
With Brian's contagious enthusism for angling, personable nature, and drive for success, Royal Star is well positioned to continue our tradition of outstanding performance in the world of long range fishing. As an integral part of the Royal Star team, Brian's distinct contributions as Captain, chief engineer, and deck crewman will be genuinely appreciated as he joins the pursuit on voyages with both Randy and I as well as in command behind the helm. We are always seeking forward progress and look forward to forging ahead with Brian's insight and wisdom adding to our tireless drive to remain at the forefront of the long range sport fishing industry.
Now, as for the fishing, we are out and underway on our final sixteen day voyage of the season with a perfect load of bait and fantastic group of anglers on board. As we seem to have the e-mail function on our new computer worked out, look for daily reports to continue following today as I do my best to keep you well informed of our daily progress.