It is difficult to avoid getting too carried away with the photos of Chef's Drew Rivera and Jeffrey Grant's galley creations. In all my years of long range sport fishing I can say with certainty that I have never been to sea with any chefs that come close to what Drew and Jeff present on a daily basis. I cannot adequately describe the content of the dishes, or the combinations of flavors so I will allow the images to do the talking. I can report that everything prepared by Drew and Jeff is fresh, handmade, and delicious beyond imagination.
Enjoy the photos and again a brash, bold call out to all other chef's on long range vessels - bring it on!
Long Range veteran Bob Pound is the man today with a two twenty five he picked off on the mid morning long soaked sardine. Also, I am including a few shots of anglers in action and enjoying themselves on deck. Look for daily photos to continue as I have a slew to forward from angler Mike Sakasegawa who was busy photographing throughout the voyage and generously shared his collection with us to post on the site.
So our arrival Friday the 23rd was a straight business affair as the catch that was maintained in superb condition, was professionally unloaded using the boom and winch to ease the premium, dressed carcasses into waiting, slush (seawater and ice) filled totes and carts to be sent to the processors of choice. We always do our best to produce a premium product, and succeed on every voyage to the best of our ability, but the combination of flat calm weather, smaller group of anglers, and steady, scratch pace of catching on this voyage made for the most perfect setting imaginable to produce the end quality of product we covet. A few anglers generously contributed a couple of fish for the boys to dress out, split up, and take home on Friday. As a result, I had the pleasure of enjoying a couple of fresh tuna meals over the weekend with my family and can report that I have never had better. Thanks for the much appreciated and enjoyed fish guys.
On another note, with the latest round of questions and controversy revolving around the scales used on board long range vessels and recognizing boat weights, we figured it best to weigh the 309 pound yellowfin, landed by Stas Vellonakis on day two of the voyage and stored for ten full days at sixteen degrees Fahrenheit in spray brine, to again ensure that our measuring is accurate and consistent with weights taken on land upon return. The result was not surprising when the monster yellowfin tuna was cranked up on the boat scale dockside - 309 pounds. When it was placed on the Fisherman's Canning certified floor scale at the top of the dock - 309 pounds. As I mentioned, to us this result was not surprising. Such results have been consistent since we began using the scale on board in 2004.
However, I am not in any way proposing that a weight of an extraordinary catch, such as a potential world record or any fish qualifying for any type of title, taken on board any vessel, be used without a corresponding weight taken on land for verification. This is appropriate and makes sense for many well founded, easy for all to understand reasons. I emphasized the point above simply to reassure the angling community that the weights taken and reported on board Royal Star can be confidently accepted as fact.
Today's photos feature master anglers Todd Phillips and Kevin Leong in action and victorious with their 267 and 247 pound trophies. As I mentioned last week I have many more photos to share and will be posting in upcoming days. Enjoy and look for more to come.
Royal Star favorite and master angler Steve Kimbrough, whose impressive physical dimensions have the tendency to make almost any trophy yellowfin tuna appear small, does the honors first today with this 253 landed during the biggest stop of the voyage. A couple of shots of Steve's good friend Mike Neal are also appropriately included as Mike and Steve make a good team when fishing together. Finally, I included one of several fine photos I took of Royal Star from the water on one of the flat calm, balmy days we enjoyed. I will include several more of these during over the next few days. The boat will be in shortly greeted this morning by dreary, cool conditions perfect for unloading and maintaining the premium product quality we strive to achieve on every voyage. Look for photos and reports to continue.
Anglers Mike Sakasegawa and Rob McAdam have the honors today both featured in action as well as with their hard earned trophy yellowfin at 221 and 237#'s respectively. Royal Star is traveling north in continuing ideal weather with arrival in San Diego tomorrow sometime mid morning. Look for more photos tomorrow and enjoy.
We finished off with a flawless disembarkation in Los Cabos where the balmy weather and somewhat sleepy atmosphere welcomed anglers to a day of relaxation and perusing local establishments before jumping on their early evening flights home. In the meantime, Royal Star began steaming north enjoying an easy tranquil ride in gentle rolling seas. In reflecting on the voyage I must again remark on the extraordinary good fortune we all enjoyed from the perfect weather to the fishing and everything one can think of in between. Most importantly, the group of anglers made the trip with their individual and combined experience in this arena reflecting their passion for long range fishing as well as their expertise at the rail. For the entire Royal Star crew I can confidently report that we have never been to sea with a better group of individuals, or had a better time while performing our duties than we did throughout this voyage. Best said - a good time was had by all. Truer words were never spoken.
I will post voyage photos during the next few days and perhaps a few thoughts as they come up. With our arrival scheduled for Friday morning, we will be unloading a catch of premium trophy yellowfin tuna in perfect condition before settling in at the dock for a couple of weeks to perform some general winter maintenance. In closing today, for the entire Royal Star crew I wish to extend our most sincere gratitude to the anglers on this voyage as we could not have realized a better outcome on your behalf. Thanks to all of you listed below for your business, fine company on board, and admirable character. We are sincerely appreciative.
Well the final glory hit was not meant to be as we covered a broad stretch of ocean brimming with school size tuna, dolphins, and birds but very little in the way of giant yellowfin. This was one of those times when a handful of boats working together would have been a huge advantage as the fish pushed well off the bank over the last few days and out into open water. With the amount life we saw and plenty good conditions, I have little doubt that the jumbos were somewhere within the twenty square miles around the bank, we just didn't get on them. Perhaps not though as we found what appeared to be the right group of dolphins, worked them for a two twenty one, a two forty seven, and one tuna around one forty that was sporting another hook from some unlucky angler a few days past. Perhaps it was just a down day, or the fish moved on, as we saw very little where it appeared that we should have been looking at the mother lode. We'll never know. It's the nature of fisherman, at least all the fishermen I know, to ponder and continuously question any and every factor when the day doesn't unfold to our complete satisfaction.
To that end however I have to be careful a not get too carried away with the griping as we have experienced the most extraordinary luck from both a fishing and weather perspective one could dream of over the past nine days. I can hardly begin to sufficiently express our gratitude for the good fortune we have enjoyed this voyage that could not have been better scripted to fit the skill set and goals of this superb group of anglers. Nine days of flat calm weather with consistent opportunities at exactly what these anglers were hoping for every day. It is a rare occasion that virtually everything on a fishing voyage of this length unfolds in our favor. It is to be expected that over the course of nine days on the open ocean there will be at least a few lost to sloppy weather, fishing missteps, and/or the fish disappearing or not biting. Not this voyage. Incredibly enough, despite the fickle nature of this zone, good fortune prevailed.
Master angler Todd Phillips appropriately took big fish honors today with the two forty seven while Mike Sakasegawa landed the beautifully proportioned two twenty one. I took the time to express our admiration for several individuals during this voyage. Todd is another among the exclusive few whose instinctual approach to fishing defines being at the top of the game. In every respect there simply is no better.
So that ends it and we have a whopping eight hour ride in to Cabo San Lucas where our anglers and I disembark tomorrow for the express ride home. Captain Toussaint will be taking the boat up the line in what appears to be the phenomenal trend of yet more flat calm weather - unbelievable. In the meantime, I will be posting many photos from the voyage over the next few days as well as a few final thoughts. No doubt about it, we were living right this time. A beautiful load of perfectly handled giant yellowfin in RSW tanks, the boat operating in top condition, and satisfied anglers round out as close to a perfect voyage as possible. Yes sir, it was our time.
It was far from easy again today with shifting conditions, a narrow time of day window when the fish were up, and wild behavior when they were making the task of finding the right one a real challenge. We were up for it of course, but following yesterday's glory hit, we were really ready to clobber them right out of the gates. It wasn't meant to be. We did enjoy one long drift mid day that produced a two sixty seven, five others in the one hundred forty to one hundred seventy pound class, and a couple of real heartbreaks on bona fide giants using the big gear that spit the hooks to our extreme dissatisfaction.
Master live bait fisherman Kevin Leong claimed big fish honors today and rightly so as he has been giving a clinic on sardine fishing with big gear throughout this voyage. Having the pleasure to know and fish with Kevin for at least twenty years now, I can say with absolute certainty that a better live bait fisherman does not exist, especially when it comes to finesse fishing in scratch conditions. When it comes to Kevin's consistent results, straight fishing luck is a very minor component in the equation. Practice, skill, experience, and impeccable attention to his equipment, from the Blackwater fluorocarbon he uses exclusively to the Calstar rods and Accurate Platinum reels, Kevin assembles every possible advantage then combines his expertise for almost unbelievable results. Ask anyone who has fished with Kevin and they will nod in agreement; and probably throw in a story or two to back it up. No doubt you wouldn't find any argument among this crew or group of incredible anglers, most of whom have fished with Kevin for many years.
Now our final day is upon us and it appears that aside from a few light spatters of rain that our fantastic weather is going to hold straight through. With the amount of sign we saw today the potential for a going home glory school is still high as well as our motivation to make it happen. We could not be better positioned for success with a brimming load of green mackerel and perfect sardines and a highly motivated crew and group of anglers to this end. Needless to say we will be hard charging to the final moment hoping that the fish gods are again generous before our time down here becomes a memory fondly recalled.
This day has been a long time coming. After the maddening, near two month pursuit of giant yellowfin tuna that refuse to bite with abandon, we finally had our day in the sun. Certainly we have caught our share prior, with a few here and a few there nearly every day in this zone, scratching our way along to compile a respectable overall record. But yesterday was different. After a disturbing morning of prospecting a new area with excellent conditions, tons of friendly dolphins, and zero sign of fish, we hightailed it back to the previous week's zone to find cooler green water and also, zero sign of fish. Needless to say the climate on the bridge was a little grave as the time to head out in search mode had obviously come upon us.
So, with six hours of daylight and the best strategy we could figure based on conditions, we chose our direction and set to looking. It didn't take long. An hour later we came upon scattered indications of big fish and after a couple of unproductive attempts located a spot that was markedly different. From afar the birds and dolphins had a narrow focus following what appeared to be some kind of bait ball up on the surface. At about a quarter mile it came into focus and our instincts jumped into overdrive as we recalled many previous like scenarios that resulted in big catches. A school of twenty to thirty pound giant squid was being harassed by a group of dolphins balled up on the surface while fleeing for it's life. From the look of it though, it appeared that the squids had even greater concerns from something down below. We when caught up to them, indeed a school of giant yellowfin was trailing below lining up to sow destruction on the deserving mollusks and add to their already mammoth proportions with another hearty meal.
In the end I believe the squids were saved as Royal Star provided instant refuge. Thankfully the giant yellowfin were not ready to give up the chase. With their appetite whetted, and plenty to eat flying over the side, they set up camp and got down to business biting in earnest for the next couple of hours while we basked in the indescribable pleasure of working balls out to stay ahead of the action. Twenty four was the total from the afternoon hit with six of those over the two hundred mark and the majority of the others coming in at one fifty to one eighty. Combined with an incredible surface showing, that has almost unbelievably become standard in this area, the action can again only be described as paradise as this group of ten, highly proficient anglers set to their beloved challenge of hooking and landing giant yellowfin tuna in flat calm seas and perfect conditions. What an afternoon. This was exactly what we needed to feel satisfied.
Congratulations to all these anglers who performed flawlessly amidst the action demonstrating their talent and ability to perfection. Steve Kimbrough took the big fish honors with a two fifty three while the remaining five deuces ranged from two hundred nine to two forty three. Also, with this hit, every angler on board now has a two hundred pounder to his credit. We have two days remaining, the rapidly achieving miracle status, flat calm conditions forecast to continue, and plenty of motivation to establish this kind of action as a trend. Captain Toussaint has the helm tomorrow so we will soon find out if this was the change we were hoping for or a fluke. Needless to say, after enduring possibly the longest stretch of viewing incredible quantities of not biting giant yellowfin tuna in my memory, we are not ready in the least to ease up. Come on baby. Keep biting.
Another day of weather so beautiful it is almost surreal as absolutely zero swell and seas, and a crisp, crystal clear atmosphere combine for genuine paradise on the high seas - regardless of the fishing. The fishing, or catching if you will, is always considered a bonus anyway as it is the one unpredictable variable on a long range voyage that in most cases is beyond our control. On that note, I must report that this extraordinary group of anglers has demonstrated exemplary preparation for any possible circumstance adjusting to varying conditions in stride by supplementing whatever one can conjure to maintain a festive atmosphere while focusing on the earnest pursuit of giant yellowfin tuna. These anglers could write the book on how to enjoy a long range fishing voyage. In fact, several of these anglers, and their incredible passion and dedication to this grand diversion, are an integral part of a book in its making. Rightly so, as they have been here throughout the revolution.
Conditions were again different today with a much smaller showing on trophy yellowfin while the smaller, eighty to one hundred twenty pound tuna continue to come one or two per stop. There were a couple of standout one fifty to one seventies, but for the most part the behemoths pulled a no show leaving us holding the bag though grateful for the couple of handfuls of nice fish landed. So, on to the next day with a short move to a different zone that we hope will relocate the jumbos and position us to dish out a few lickings during our final three fishing days. With the glorious weather forecast to hold, and every fishing advantage we can muster in our favor, we will see how the fish gods treat us tomorrow and beyond. Regardless however, these anglers will be making a good time of it. As previously reported, this is long range fishing paradise.
In some way just about every day out here is an education; and if not, at least a reminder of what a mystery the grand mechanism really is to us. Oh there are certainly patterns. There are plenty of times we get dialed in and throttle our quarry as a result. But still, from my perspective anyway, the vast majority of the time we spend on the ocean is brimming with revelations. That is if you are paying attention, and if you are not convinced that you have already learned all you need to know.
This ocean was alive today. Big spots of our favorite dolphins loaded with jags of skulking cows that showed themselves on just about every stop but took the backseat to the one hundred to one hundred sixty pound yellowfin when it came to climbing on the lines. We had a few shots, and we continue to make progress by putting a few aboard, but we were definitely left wanting after a few of these shows today that were spectacular teasers at best with zero fish over two hundred coming over the rail. Far from a bust, we are undeterred as the obvious opportunity to land the fish of a lifetime is so up close a personal that one can just about taste it every time we hit a school. It will happen. One of these days, one of these stops is going to be right; especially with the continuing flat calm, the change of the moon, and the fishing time we have remaining. In the meantime, day's end found us in transit to supplement our epic load of sardines in preparation for our final four fishing days to come. All's well on Royal Star as we look forward to the next round as it unfolds. Man there is a lot of big ones around here. Whew.
Another day in fishing paradise as the most serene, flat calm conditions one can imagine make every moment a pleasure while drifting along attempting to entice these crafty giant yellowfin to chomp a sardine with a hook in it. One thing certain is that the flat calm ocean surface does nothing to obscure the proportions of the fish crashing around. The spectacle alone is enough to keep all anglers at the rail in pursuit of those one or two opportunities that seemed to come to every angler throughout the day. In the present setting, the winning combination is time at the rail and a dedicated effort. I can honestly say that thus far I have not seen a lucky catch this voyage. Every angler has earned the fish they are landing by employing their skill, effort, and impeccably prepared equipment.
Not much change to report in these tunas disposition as they continue to tantalize us by crashing around and jumping clear out of the water mere yards from the hull while we furiously change baits and tweak our gear to present something, anything different to fool them. The good news is that we succeeded about fifteen times today landing a cool dozen after the few to be expected hook pulls cut down our averages. Not bad overall and we are certainly not complaining as the size average of the smaller fish is one sixty to one seventy with the occasional deuce in the mix. Big fish of the day again goes to Rob Mc Adam who got the job done with a two thirty seven along with my old friend Bob Pound who tricked a two twenty five on the stock, fly lined sardine. I have to say that the number of deuces landed is a paltry reflection of the quantity we are witnessing around us throughout the day. The jumbos are just particularly crafty down here at this point in time. Perhaps that is how they survived to be at the top of the food chain. Who knows? Philosophical questions aside, I can definitely say that taking all things into account it is extremely satisfying when we do land one of these cows at present. Actually it is satisfying any and every time, any and everywhere. But, after the incessant teasing we have endured in this area over the past several months, there is no mercy towards these devils in us, none. With any luck we will continue to dole out more justice tomorrow.
Although there is still a slight element of frustration here, as we continue to be shunned by the vast majority of the plentiful giant yellowfin tuna we see, every once in awhile we hit a spot that reacts and that is enough to keep us at the rail fully enthused by the potential. The sight of two to three hundred pound yellowfin blowing out and plowing through the water mere yards from the stern does wonders for the level of enthusiasm as well. For this group of anglers that is dedicated to the pursuit of giant yellowfin tuna however, really a better scenario can not be drafted. Of course the fish could bite a little better, but the action is good enough at the present pace to accumulate a regulation bounty before our fishing time plays out - if our luck holds. Eleven fish was our total today with another three over the two hundred mark and the rest from one sixty to one eighty. Fish of the day goes to Rob Mc Adam with a two sixty three with the other two twenty and two fifteen landed by Bart Ryder and Mike Sakasegawa. Congratulations guys on a job well done.
The weather is flat calm, conditions are ideal, the fish are here, and we have loads of time and perfect bait. This is as perfect a setup as we can ask for. Believe me after wrangling with the opposite luck on the previous couple of voyages, we are appropriately grateful. Before I get ahead of myself however, we have a long way to go. And boy do we know how fast things can change. As such we are taking it as it comes and appreciating every minute of it.
Now this is more like it. Very good sign of trophy yellowfin tuna, ideal weather, and the fish showing a little bit more interest in biting with a couple of handfuls of big fish for the effort including two over the coveted two hundred pound mark and a three hundred nine pound beauty for long range veteran Stas Vellonakis.
Now I can, and have, shared plenty about all the fantastic anglers I have had the pleasure to know and observe over the years. Knowing this I can say with certainty that a better overall angler, from his impeccable choice of equipment, to his dedicated effort at the rail, his demeanor among fellow anglers and well grounded lack of self importance, and most notably his smooth technique in landing giant yellowfin tuna once hooked, cannot be outmatched or outdone. Oh of course on any given day or week anyone can be out fished. Such is the nature of fishing itself. But I am speaking of the whole picture. In this capacity, over many consecutive years, Stas has earned my, Randy's, and a host of other prominent veteran long range Captain's complete respect. So huge congratulations are in order and are extended to Stas most graciously from all of us here for a job well done.
Needless to say we are feeling much more enthusiastic about the showing on big fish today although they still did leave plenty to be desired in the biting department. Man oh man. If these devils will just venture a little further into the right mode - we will be living high on the hog. Not that we are asking for, or expecting, the whole world. But just a little bit better isn't too much to ask is it? One thing certain is that we are ready.
No surprises here today as the typical pattern for this zone was in effect with a fair amount of yellowfin tuna anywhere from 30 - 300# showing but not demonstrating much interest in biting. Overall I would venture that the sign was considerably less than reported by Captain Kiyohara the previous two days, but such day to day changes are to be expected. The bottom line is that we had at least one opportunity at a big cow today, observed plenty more, have extraordinary working conditions (weather and sea state), a full load of premium mackerel and sardines, and of course, plenty of time. Taking all this into account, we are satisfied to give this zone at least one more full day before venturing off in search of glory elsewhere.
Quite the rude awakening this morning as our flat calm conditions of yesterday rapidly deteriorated into a full blown Santa Ana gale that would have been ugly were it not for a strategic course change that directed the worst of it off our stern. Sliding downhill is infinitely more comfortable than taking ten foot seas abeam and hanging on with both hands. Thankfully, as happens more often than not in this region, the worst of it was over by noon and we returned to our original heading no worse for the wear and plenty grateful for the good conditions return. Otherwise the day passed without a hitch as we put the finishing touches on our gear in preparation for game time tomorrow.
Based on our good friend Captain Brian Kiyohara's reports from below, it sounds like we need to say a few prayers or perform some kind of a rain dance as the same old scenario of plenty of fish that don't bite continues to vex all efforts. The most important element however, signs of fish, remains consistent. The second most important element, good weather, is also in our favor with a primo forecast for three full days to come. So with that in mind we will throw our hat in the mix and hope that our timing is on the mark.
Not much to report from an uneventful day of leisurely travel spinning up a few wind-on's, indulging in libations, and swapping plenty of fishing tales that grew in proportion to consumption as the sun dipped below a flat calm ocean. All in good fun of course and a good time was certainly had as calm weather and high spirits combined for an enjoyable day of cruising down Baja's rugged coast. As far as the overall set up is concerned we are in perfect position with an ideal load of bait, fine fishing prospects, and plenty of time to complete the job providing the fish cooperate. One thing certain is that the luck is due to come around in our direction again as the wave we were riding high on definitely rolled past us during the past couple of voyages. It comes with the territory of course. But even knowing this inevitable cycle; the perpetual ebb and flow, peaks and valleys, or whatever analogy one wishes to use, it never lessens the blow of coming in second, third, or worse. As my Dad use to always tell me, " The one who comes in second is the first loser". It's a tough haul to feed such lofty expectations, but we wouldn't have it any other way. So, onward and upward as we continue the trek south seeking good fishing and good times on the road ahead.
And away we go on this exclusive fifteen day adventure sponsored by and carrying the finest representatives from Blackwater and Accurate Products. With a very small assembly of big fish mavens on board, we are headed south to include our efforts in the search for giant yellowfin along with several of our colleagues who departed during the past few days.
Using history as a measure, timing should intersect with opportunity at some point during the twelve day fishing portion of this voyage as we plan to focus our efforts offshore for what we hope will be the duration of the adventure. We will see. As we all have witnessed by now, regardless of what vessel you choose to ride, fishing strategies have a way of evolving throughout a voyage; sometimes taking turns no one imagines upon departure. Admittedly, we are hoping to avoid such surprises this time, but we are ready to adjust if necessary.
With both Captain Toussaint and I on board again this voyage, we will see how our combined efforts shake out this time. Wish us luck if you are on our team and look for plenty more in the daily reports as I warm up to the routine.
We traveled up today in nice weather cleaning our gear and relaxing. We will arrive at Fisherman's Landing at 0815 tomorrow morning. The boat will depart again on Thursday Jan. 8th. With both Tim and Randy onboard
Many thanks to our generous sponsors for this trip: Newell Reels, Hayabusa hooks. and Yo-Zuri. Also a special thanks to Avet Reels who provided three big reels for a left handed angler.
This morning we stopped for a couple of hours of action on school size yellowfin and yellowtail. We had full participation at the rail with bent rods and smiles all around. We are currently travelling towards homeand will arrive on Monday the 5th.
We got a little bit of justice today as we experienced better catching. Top two fish of the day were Clyde Smith with a 335 and K.C. Nassser with a 260. I wish we had more time down here. We are moving up tonight and will get a few hours of fishing in before having to head for the barn.