I told the guys before embarking on this move that regardless of what we caught it was the right thing to do. We began the voyage with gang busters action on beautiful yellowtail for the first two days; enough so that we did not need, or want, to take any more. As such we headed offshore fully satisfied with the catch in the hatch, ready to add to the voyage's success with a little variety.
In today's case "a little" is the correct term. We saw them. We pursued them. And we caught a precious few. Bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna were the quarry. Both were landed in small numbers. Both were seen in fair numbers. As is the theme for 2010 however - seeing is not believing. The catching part of the equation, the validation that is, is tough to come by. Although, if it counts as a consolation, we did validate their presence through plenty of fish crashing around delighted to accept our offerings.
And so passes my fair attempt at humor. Less the comedy, there are plenty around, but they had lockjaw today. Yesterday and the day before, not so much - there were some good catches made on both species. Today, they dished out some more punishment teasing most anglers to grief by dangling the unattainable goal just beyond reach. Devils.
As such we close the book on this voyage pleased with the ultimate result that speaks a tale of success. Even more so, we are pleased and grateful for the fantastic group of anglers assembled by long time favorite, Royal Star charter master Ty Brietman. All of these stellar anglers receive our most sincere thanks for a great time on the water in good fishing and bad. Although, I hesitate to say "bad" when it comes to fishing. What is the old saying - "the worst day of fishing is better than the best day of work". Perhaps that is a stretch, but I'll go with it. We make a good time of it no matter what. We meaning the crew, and our epic groups of anglers.
Bad is too harsh a term to assign to a vacation. It definitely gets bad up on the bridge, or tough may be a better choice of words, but it definitely should not get bad on deck for a fisherman out to enjoy a vacation. When the fish don't bite it is certainly grounds for disappointment, but there is plenty of good company to share, and a good time to be had regardless. This superb group of anglers is a perfect example. Especially this afternoon. Fishing wasn't great, and wasn't showing promise of getting any better, but they were out back whooping it up, enjoying the day, making a good time of it. This is as it should be. To be completely honest though, that RSW tank plugged with beautiful yellowtail in perfect condition made it easy to shrug off slow fishing. As I have said plenty of times now, thank goodness for them.
Now it is up to the master as Captain Toussaint takes the helm on our annual Labor Day five day adventure. Good prospects prevail and the weather is lining up to be ideal. Look for Randy's reports to continue tomorrow and beyond. Photos for the day feature long time Royal Star veteran's Donny Maxwell and Gary Bobay living the moment we all come for. Have a fine day!
It's probably better to let the pictures do the talking today as we caught almost zero on the long northerly trek. Not that we had big visions of production; we were prepared for this as the weather was up and we drew an inside line to avoid the worst of it, but it would have been nice to grapple at least a little something. All told by day's end we were in good position. The sea state backed off enough that we busted a move outside for a late afternoon shot. Still, it didn't happen.
Two things made the day's results, or lack thereof, easier to tolerate. One - we had to travel up regardless. Two - it was necessary to make tracks towards the promising offshore zone above. In short, this was a positioning move with the ultimate goal of reaching the grounds tomorrow. We'll see how this well contrived strategy plays out. It looks good on paper.
Photos for the day feature angler Ray Ochoa and Captain Brian Sims with a beautiful "premium" yellowtail taken on the surface iron and long rod, young Matthew Kui with Captain Sean Bickel and his nice "primo", and long time Royal Star veteran Dave McGrouther enjoying the moment pulling on a good one.
We had a great day in every respect. Very good morning action on 18 - 25# yellowtail followed by a perfect afternoon scratch on "primos". A more ideal day of yellowtail angling, complimented by the flat calm conditions we have become so accustomed to around the islands, could not be found. We are ecstatic. Not only about our day of angling either; reports from the offshore grounds indicate big happenings relative to the past four weeks. A revival perhaps? The beginning of a September to remember? We'll see. For now at least we are heading in the right direction. Quality, 30 - 50# yellowfin, decent grade bluefin, and a smattering of "fatso", 25 - 35# albacore are on our bow. At least, they were today.
With sufficient yellowtail in the hatch we are heading out regardless. Regardless of the fish, regardless of the weather - that right now is none too good. Oh well. There are those inevitable times when the tab comes due. We are paying right now. Pocket change though. This is not bad at all. Plenty of bumpin' and jumpin' as we work up with visions of tuna dominant in our mind. Nothing to arrest forward progress.
A couple of great photo's to share from today's fishing. The first features Royal Star veteran Martin Rudolph with his 39.8# yellowtail and a clear message for his friend Anthony who could not make the trip. Though the print may be small in the photo, the shirt says it all. Hope to see you next year Anthony. Also long time Royal Star veteran Dave Bookin, who was absolutely on fire the entire day, is featured with Captain Gregg Tanji and another fine, 35# class premium yellowtail. Have a great day!
It took almost to the end of the day to get on anything substantial. And when we did it was smiles all around as anglers were happy to stretch out their muscles and get down to what we came for. The pace was ideal, the weather was fine, the scenery was pleasant - a good beginning in every respect. With nothing to piss, moan, and complain about I hardly know what to do with myself. I'm going to have to reach for some new material.
From the sound of things offshore the mixed size class yellowfin made a pretty fair showing with a decent percentage of fish landed in the 14 - 25# range. According to information from our colleagues, who reliably evaluate and report size averages, a little less than half of what was landed were the better size fish. The remainder were keepers by the floating scale of how many days one is out, and how hungry anglers are. Believe me, the way things have been offshore over the past four weeks, there are no judgments being passed. The psychological therapy of fish coming over the rail, especially for the local guys, is too important right now.
We are keeping all options open basing our next move on what transpires tomorrow both here and there. It is a fine position to be in. That is if everything goes according to plan. In closing for the day I want to let everyone know that we have plenty of availability on a couple of upcoming voyages. The September 12th - 18th six day is wide open, as well as the 18th - 24th. Both voyages will run as scheduled and promise to offer "ultra limited" deck conditions being shy of a handful or more anglers each. This is a great opportunity to jump on a Royal Star voyage if you have the time. Signs of fish are excellent in the six day range and promise much good fishing to come. For any anglers out there hesitating to call this is an ideal time. Things are beginning to wake up, and who knows what else. Good news is forthcoming.
Photo of the day features anglers Ray Ochoa and Trevor Fulks enjoying the moment as they pull on a couple of good "yellas". Good fishing; good fun; more to come.
And with the departure of the annual Ty's Tuna five day I resume my position at the helm. Before I speak of fishing however I must indulge in the opportunity to promote Captain Brian Sims' latest effort, and the depth his skill and experience brings to our operation. And when I say "our" I mean Randy, Brian, and I as owners of this grand endeavor.
When it comes to Brian I think the words of an angler I spoke with while manning the office a few days back described it best. The angler was scheduled on an upcoming voyage and inquired as to who would be running the boat. I responded that I had the pleasure and was greeted with a response I never imagined. "Damn, I was hoping to fish with Brian" was the exact quote. I had a heartfelt laugh explaining to the angler that Brian would be on board as chief engineer regardless. Then there was a awkward minute or so as the slightly distressed angler stammered through an explanation about being pleased to fish with me, but, he was looking forward to fishing with Brian again following several trips he made with him as Captain of the 105 a few years back. I didn't take the comment as an affront to my ego in the slightest. I beamed with satisfaction. It was recognition of the fact that no matter who runs Royal Star, Captain Randy Toussaint. Captain Brian Sims, or I, anglers are heading out with an experienced professional. We all have a unique identity, but the net results for anglers venturing a Royal Star voyage are the same regardless of who pilots the vessel. It is a component of our operation that provides anglers with tremendous confidence in our ability to consistently deliver. There is no "B" team. That goes for the Captain's, all of whom have a vested interest as owners in the business, and crewmembers alike.
So Brian returned from the latest successful six day with a beautiful load of yellowfin tuna from below and premium grade yellowtail from above. What a perfect catch that was unloaded in perfect condition. Every expertly cared for tuna showed the obvious signs of being spiked, bled, dressed, and placed in the thirty degree RSW. Every premium yellowtail appeared as if it were still alive their natural color maintained by efficient handling and rapid chilling after being landed. That the boys performed their job well was easy to determine - both in the appearance of the catch, and the demeanor of the departing anglers who were all compliments and smiles. There is no better feeling for me. To see such successful results always reinforces the quality of our operation in my mind.
This voyage begins with an offshore jaunt day one seeking whatever we may find in transit. Reports of the offshore grounds beginning to wake up are on the wire with signs of tuna appearing in several different zones. Mixed bag in the size department with the majority being keepers is the information in hand. As dead as things have been in general this is fantastic news. Rest assured we will position ourselves accordingly as the voyage progresses. For now we are underway well prepared to make the most of what we encounter. Look for the daily narrative to continue. Have a great weekend!
Today we traveled up the coast. We stopped a couple of times looking for a few fish to break up the ride home. The fish chose not to cooperate. We have decent weather and will arrive at the dock at 0700 on Friday morning. We will depart again Friday with Tim at the helm for our next five day adventure.
We made the long run up the coast and were rewarded with fantastic fishing for premium grade yellowtail. We had a memorable surface show for the entire afternoon as 28 - 40# yellows were erupting around the boat. The action was hot and heavy for the first couple of hours after finding the fish, then settled in to a steady pick until dark. For any surface iron aficionados on the next few trips. "Don't forget the long rod". If that's not your style. No worries, they bit the bait very well. Long time Royal Star regular Greg Poldy makes a long trek across the country from Washington D.C. with his dad every year. He proudly displays one of his "premiums".
Today our good weather and good fishing continued. An early troll produced a few Wahoo, then we got the anchor down and proceeded to enjoy a steady pick on tuna. The tuna were the same grade as yesterday, but we had a much higher percentage of the larger grade. The flyline sardine was the hot rig and the fish uncharacteristically spread themselves out amongst our anglers. In the late afternoon, the bite slowed and we took off. We will be up on the coast looking for yellows tomorrow. Our first picture today shows a happy Mitch Otera with a 70# yellowfin. Mitch puts a lot of work into his charter to ensure a good time is had by all. Our second shot is of Mike Russell and crewman Blake wasano. Mike landed his 58.5# Wahoo on straight 20# mono along with bragging rights for this unconventional catch.
We were full of anticipation this morning after making the long run down to our fishing destination. Things got off to a good start with a few good grade Wahoo. We then settled in on the anchor for a pick bite on 50 - 75# tuna. Things slowed down in the afternoon, so we made a move and were rewarded with good action on a mixed grade of tuna from 20 - 70#. When the dust settled after dark we managed to put just over 100 tuna onboard for our efforts. Today's shot is of the last fish of the day and shows Maurice Williams with his prized catch, a 55# tuna.
We got an early start on our annual Mitch Otera 6-day, clearing the point at 10:45 yesterday with a good load of bait aboard. We are currently traveling south and will begin fishing tomorrow morning. We have excellent weather and more of the same in the forecast. The day was spent rigging tackle and relaxing before we get down to business in the morning.
Uneventful day prospecting up the line in spite of great conditions, the story of offshore 2010. We called it a trip early this afternoon and are traveling up in good weather with an eta of 0630 tomorrow. Brian will be back out on our annual Mitch Otera 6-day so look for his reports on the 22nd. Our final shot is a group photo of a quick hit we got at sundown on premium yellows.
Uneventful day prospecting up the line in spite of great conditions, the story of offshore 2010. We called it a trip early this afternoon and are traveling up in good weather with an eta of 0630 tomorrow. Brian will be back out on our annual Mitch Otera 6-day so look for his reports on the 22nd. Our final shot is a group photo of a quick hit we got at sundown on premium yellows.
Just what we were hoping for here at Cedros today, a nice scratch on 30-40lb yellows to fill out the limits. Fun angling with these big fish boiling around in glass calm conditions with the surface iron and flyline producing the bites. After enjoying dinner in the lee we are traveling up and plan to do a little prospecting offshore tomorrow to finish up the trip. Tom Lawrence shows off a 40lb yellow in today's shot.
We started out on the shallows this morning with a very good bite on 15-25lb yellows that put on a good show and bit increasingly better as the day progressed. By late morning we had all we wanted and took off for the offshore grounds where we had sign yesterday. It wasn't until late when we got on a nice school that produced 65 yft from 18-30lbs with one standout 60lber. Overall a great day of angling in balmy flat calm seas. We are traveling up tonight and will be at an island tomorrow targeting premium grade yellows tomorrow. Our shot today shows veteran long range angler Anastasia Schmoll with a 62lb yft.
No big hits but we managed to put together a decent day here in the lower offshore zone. Our tally was 35 yft from 12-25lbs and limits of dorado off a kelp that was loaded. We are going to try for yellows tomorrow morning and look at this offshore zone again in the afternoon.
We rolled into Cedros this afternoon to start our annual Mako 6-day and were immediately greeted with an incredible show on the 25-40lb yellows. A nice long drift ensued with steady premium yellows coming over the rail amongst a big pile up of birds, seals, and bait. When the dust settled we had 60 aboard and went prospecting for more as we worked down the island. We are traveling down tonight in grease calm weather to look at some promising warm water where we hope to get a shot at the tuna tomorrow.
Zero to report on the fishing front today as we rocked and rolled, bumped and jumped, and clawed our way northwest against a screaming downhill current that has thus far been the signature condition of the 2010 season; that and complete unpredictability of course. In fact, I can not recall anything I have experienced being even remotely close. From what initially appeared to be a stellar alignment of fish sign and conditions, to the polar opposite in mid August is something to see. Mind you it is a tough chain of events to swallow, and even smacks of injustice, but, no surprises. Mother Nature is well known for her indifference.
I am referencing the present set up for offshore fish in the above. Island fishing, as well as fishing to the far south, has been our savior of the highest caliber. Without these options, I can easily imagine the worst; because I have been there. We are not there yet. And with any luck, won't be as options expand. But, therein lies the big question. As crazy and unpredictable as the summer of 2010 has been so far there is no telling what is to come. The typical late summer, early fall push of warm water that brings exotics to the local and distant offshore grounds is already tardy. I wouldn't hang my hat on any notion however. As I stated a few days back - we are either going to see incredible happenings come late August and September, or winter is going to arrive in lieu of Indian Summer.
While I share this rather disturbing set of observations and assessment of the offshore conditions, in no way am I attaching any long term significance to what is occurring. This is actually the point I wish to emphasize in today's passage. What we are all presently experiencing in the coastal Southern California and Northern Baja offshore waters is an anomaly yes, but nothing more than a regular part of the grand mechanism in the big picture. Such cycles are normal. Peaks and valleys so to speak. Regular small fluctuations, occasional more dramatic shifts, then the once in twenty or thirty year big wrench in the works are inherent in the cyclic rhythm of conditions and change. In no way am I attempting to minimize the effect and impact on fishermen of from all ends of the spectrum. The pain of not catching fish, as well as the catastrophic effect on businesses is nothing to be made light of. But, it is important not to succumb to "Chicken Little Syndrome" about what is presently occurring offshore. What we are dealing with is part of the natural ebb and flow. The long term implications relative to the health of this fishery are zero. There are plenty of fish out there. Conditions along the entire coast from Washington to Northern Baja are just unfavorable for them right now.
Taking all this into account, we are ecstatic to be departing on our next six day voyage tomorrow with Capt. Toussaint at the helm. The annual Mako Nakamura six day will depart with a favorable weather pattern to work with and plenty of prospects down below. Combined with a wealth of time to work at whatever they find, all signs point to a fine fishing set up.
In closing for the day, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the entire "Pfishcadora" group of anglers whom I have annually shared the Royal Star deck with for eighteen years. When I was a young man working on Royal Polaris with Frank Lo Preste I used to marvel when he would describe to me, during or in advance of a voyage, the depth of his sentiment towards a particular group because he had fished with them for fifteen or twenty years. At the time I couldn't imagine such a thing. It just wasn't in my capacity to understand in my youth. The notion that he had been making fishing voyages with the anglers on board for longer than I had been alive was beyond my comprehension. I had no gauge to measure the significance. Now I do. And, now I understand. I am endeared to these anglers simply for the fact that we have shared so many experiences, and so much fishing, good and bad, over the past eighteen seasons. The respect I have for these anglers is tremendous. They have the right approach appreciating every aspect of their annual Royal Star voyage with keen perspective. So again my thanks and good wishes until next year.
Final voyage photos feature long time anglers Frank Hirose with his son Tom and crewman Steve Gregonis doing the lifting honors. I believe Frank is the ranking veteran with close to ninety years under his belt. Talk about a warrior. Frank of course, but also Tom who brings along his dad every year. Again - what a legacy. Also for the day, Gene Osher is featured with crewman Steve Gregonis and Gene's trophy yellowtail wrestled from the kelp during an epic, twenty minute battle.
Look for Capt. Toussaint's reports to continue.
Placid warmth, even balmy, while gentle, variable breezes softened the heat that accurately represented summer for only the second time this season. It has been some time since I have seen my crew shed their shirts to soak up some ultraviolet the old fashioned way. Taboo as the mention of getting a sun tan is nowadays, it is still good to see men working, and behaving like real men. No manicures, facials, or mud baths for these guys. Pure, salt of the earth, old school fishermen is a more apt description. And if they aren't when they start working with us, they are by the time they advance. Just consider the guys that Randy and I have worked with on Royal Star over the past fifteen years and advanced in the fishing industry. David Wolfson, Bruce Smith, Brian Sims, Markus Medak, John Coniff, and Brett Rouintree. All these individuals used Royal Star, and the knowledge they gained during their tenure on board, to earn positions as successful Captains, and in the case of all but Bruce Smith so far, successful owners of their own vessels. Every one of these men fits the above described as if the definition were written for them. Take note ladies - there is hope. They still do exist out there.
Getting back on track, as part of the fishing narrative the calm conditions were particularly significant this voyage. Our group of seasoned anglers enjoyed the ability to traverse a completely stable deck that did not so much as move an inch vertically or laterally while we targeted yellowtail this afternoon. To the even greater delight of anglers, the yellowtail were in the mood to cooperate coming through in waves maintaining the perfect pace for the production we sought. To top it off, there was a steady mix of "premiums" in the fray to keep things interesting and anglers sharp. What a perfect day. Perfect because the yellowtail cooperated, perfect because the weather was ideal, and perfect because grumpy weather and no fish on the outside left us with virtually no other options. Once again we are the beneficiaries of an extremely generous Mother Nature, and a extremely prolific yellowtail population. Good times at present. We are appropriately, and respectfully grateful.
So the question now is what's next? Head outside to look for a needle in the haystack, or work up the coast and ply the chocolate brown fifty four degree water for a predictable outcome? Either way, it lines up to be a challenging occasion, that is solely weather dependent. Crappy weather - head inside. Good weather - work the west. Rest assured that we choose the western route one hundred times out of a hundred with the right conditions. If there is even so much as a chance of catching something offshore - tuna, albacore, or otherwise, we are there.
Photos of the day feature a group shot of the old school Pfishcadora's enjoying the day in fine style. From left to right are Marty Berk, Shelly Siegel, Art Litman, and Rick Whipple. Also, Art Litman is featured with next generation Royal Star crewman Paul Caramayo and one of two fine "premiums" he landed from an afternoon hit in paradise. Look for tomorrow's final voyage report. Enjoy the weekend!
Well this is refreshing. The conclusion of day one and I don't have what has lately become the usual sob story. Recognizing that there is a time and a place for everything, we employed the long haul tactic that lead to a fine afternoon of scratching at 18 - 22# yellowtail in relatively calm conditions; the calm provided by an island lee, not the elements. Although it was far from rough on the outside, it wasn't ideal; especially for our veteran anglers who appreciate their time on the water, but appreciate it far more when it is calm. I couldn't agree more; though we take it as it comes.
Day two will see us continue the pursuit of the blessed yellowtail dead center in the triangle. Reports of good fish, in multiple areas, are steady, and again we plan to make the weather favorable. One has to love island fishing for this reason alone. On the offshore front the same news continues. The cruddy weather alone has dissuaded any adventurers from undertaking prospecting missions. And, after the past few rounds, I think most of us are relieved a solid excuse to stay away exists. As I have stated several times now - a little, or a lot, of time is needed to swings things back into the favorable category. This is one of those periods when one simply doesn't fight it.
Photos of the day feature Pfishcadora charter master Dr. Sheldon Siegel pulling on a yellowtail in fine form at the young age of 86. Of all the years I have fished with Dr. Siegel I can not recall a time when he was not up for whatever we were pursuing with a positive outlook and youthful enthusiasm for catching fish. While Dr. Siegel's professional accomplishments are vast and significant in the world of medicine, I only know him as a fisherman. As I have such colossal admiration and respect for Dr. Siegel, I observe him closely the majority of the time we are on Royal Star. All the years combined, up to yesterday fishing in the lee of Isla San Benitos, I always recognize the distinct twinkle in his eye when the fish start biting. At the rail of Royal Star, pulling on a good game fish, life is reduced to it's simplest form. It is the ultimate example of living in the moment - for a fisherman; or in this case, for Dr. Siegel. Everything in life aside, this is a man who loves to fish. I can relate.
Also featured today are the next generation who join their Grand Dad at the rail on this excursion. Now this is a legacy. I'm telling you. I know I am getting more than a little sentimental, perhaps even a little mushy, but for any family man this complete image should move you at least at some level. David and Mark Brown, grandsons of Dr. Siegel, carry the tradition forward pulling on a pair of yellows on the Royal Star bow. Fine job boys. Well done.
Considerably less than ideal weather, and a dearth of offshore options cleared the way for a southerly stampede as even the bravest of salts is sated with fruitless ventures into the abyss. Across the personality and practical spectrum it is the only thing to do. Though distasteful in principal, we sacrifice our innate originality in favor of the generic maneuver. Fear of being singed in another offshore sojourn, and dulled by the certain prospect of another 15 hour rain making session, we beeline for terra firma allowing the offshore zone to lie fallow for at least a few days. It is the only logical thing to do.
Armed with a new group of anglers, and the most perfect bait one can imagine for the job, we are in travel mode south leaving miles of northern cold water astern. This is some turn of events. While frustrating as hell, and even depressing if one is prone to drama, it is impossible to not recognize, and at least be interested, if not fascinated, by this enormous deviation in the grand mechanism. Admittedly I am sickened by the lack of favorable conditions, and definitely over it, but I am also observing with keen interest. This is an anomaly that I will catalog and follow closely to see how it plays out. We are either going to be incredibly surprised by big offshore happenings late, or talking about what happened to the summer of 2010 by the end of this event. Not that such a prediction is any revelation, or is freighted with the profound.
As we head south on this voyage I have to comment on this group of extraordinary anglers, who have fished with me on Royal Star since I began operating her in 1992. Even before my tenure as Captain on Royal Star the Pfishcadora's have made their annual four day voyage in August experiencing just about every variation of fishing at this time of year that one can imagine. These gentlemen are amazing. And I use the word gentlemen to denote and extend pure respect. Incredible individuals; some of whom are in their late eighties and early nineties. Avid fishermen who appreciate their time on the water as something to be relished and coveted; that and the company of long time friends they enjoy in the distinct atmosphere of a boat at sea. While I recall saying it before I gladly forward the thought again: I can only hope that I, and my friends (yes, surprisingly I do have at least a couple) are in condition in our advanced years to live and share such experiences. A few of these gentlemen are glowing examples of what I aspire to if longevity is in my cards. Amazing individuals, exhibiting amazing drive and ability - to me anyway.
With sixteen participants ready as they can be we are prepared to make the most of what opportunities we encounter. Needless to say our production capacity, adjusted for these seasoned fishermen, is somewhat different than a voyage fortified with youthful horsepower. The size of the pile rarely dictates the story of fishing encountered on this annual voyage. It is surprising however. There have been a number of times when these anglers put fish on board with a vengeance. Like I said, they are amazing.
Speaking of amazing, our photo today features angler Rick Moon from the last trip pulling on one of his many yellowtail landed with the spinning tackle. I know, I know -anglers using the spinning tackle are inferior, they are kooks, they are a bunch of spooners who don't know how to fish, or aren't worthy to share the rail with "real fishermen" who only use conventional tackle. This is the stereotype, majority Southern California sport boat mentality. I was among the camp in my youth snickering at the boobs using spinners on the Pacific Queen during my four year apprenticeship in the local fleet. Tell it Rick. He used the gear pictured to outpace, and out fish everyone on board - especially in the slow periods. Oh, and one more thing. He has, and effectively uses conventional tackle as well; the best of both worlds.
One is free to bring and use the spinning tackle on Royal Star. I have learned in the present, and days of old, that it can be extremely effective in the hands of proficient anglers. As long as it is appropriate for the size of our quarry, and setting we are in, have no fear. You will not be ridiculed or minimized. You manhood will be respected, and remain intact. And, if my advice is worth two bits - Shimano Stella's. Or any other of the Shimano line of spinning reels that are bullet proof and light years beyond the competition. They are the best - simply put. Enjoy the day!
The fact that I will post two images from our big day in the triangle serves to tell the tale of today's offshore effort. Tough times. Very gruesome. One of those inevitable down cycles that is what it is. Philosophical waxing, cheery spin, and optimistic forecasting are presently pure drivel. This is just a natural function that is to our extreme disadvantage. No amount of b.s. will gloss over the obvious. It will not last forever.
As far as any long term predicting is concerned my guess is as certain as yours. All I can offer is that there recently was a tremendous amount of fish that are now completely unaccounted for. They'll probably show up south west of San Diego about one hundred miles when they come back up. But, I offer that as a reach. The way this season has progressed, there is absolutely no way to guess. They are just as likely to show back up at two hundred twenty miles south east.
So we head into our next four day run shooting from the hip. At the very least, for our anglers, and generally speaking, we are well acquainted with such scenarios. As my good friend and chief mentor from days of old Steve Loomis used to say: "they are not getting any cherries". This is not the first time we have encountered slow fishing and unfriendly conditions. It also will not be the last. It is built into the equation. Strength in the face of adversity is the measure of true character. These times offshore are a test of our mettle; all of us - anglers and crews alike. "When the going gets tough, the tough double down". I love that saying.
Rest assured that it will change; the only bona fide optimistic fact that we can rely on. Beyond yesterday's results, or lack of, we have nothing but gratitude to express about the results of this voyage. We dodged a speeding bullet. Not only did we recover from two days for near zero results, we wound up producing epic fishing for our anglers, and returning with a fine catch in the hatch. Whew. What a colossal relief. In closing I want to thank this fantastic group of anglers who rode out the no fish storm like real gentlemen. They were exemplary in their acceptance of the fact that this is fishing. Although they were getting anxious by the end of day two, they maintained good spirits, and their resolve to make a good time of the experience regardless. These guys were a page in the how to cope with tough fishing book. There is a lot of this going around right now. We share in the good out here, and the not so good. Fortunately the ratio is far in favor of the good.
Photos today feature Royal Star veterans John Finneran and Tom Harrris pleased as can be with their thirty to thirty five pound class "premium" yellowtail. All smiles, and rightly so. Look for reports to continue as Capt. Randy Toussaint and I team up on the next four day. If we can't get 'er done together - look out. We will.
Somewhere in my eulogy, that of course will be self written in advance, I am going to devote a passage to the California Yellowtail. Of all the fish that we depend on, they are the most reliable. I can't even begin to relate how valuable they are to our fishery. While I know the majority of long range angler's primary goal is to catch albacore and tuna, as is ours, yellowtail are far from second class citizens. As a game fish they are impossible to criticize, and with the advent of RSW, they are extraordinary table fare. After today's results on the water, and the prior two day's lack of, I am shamelessly supplicating at the yellowtail alter. They saved our bacon big time - again.
We had just about the perfect day in the triangle beginning with a steady pick on 18 - 25# class fish that lasted through about 1030 when conditions changed dramatically. Actually, conditions changed dramatically before we began fishing. We awoke to 62 degree green water that had a feeling more akin to Morro Bay or Santa Cruz than where we were. I have to say that an early sense of foreboding was prevalent; most certainly motivated by the prior two busted days. We took a page from the old play book however and went about our business as if the temperature didn't matter. As it turned out, it didn't.
After our steady morning scratch on the anchor we relocated to a different area that was a result of information gathered through our network. We put it to good use. One decent shot at school size yellows got us started. The second shot got it done; a boomer drift that developed into a school determined to catch a ride to San Diego come hell or high water. We left them eager and biting with enough to satisfy all goals of production on that size class of fish. Epic fishing. Throw in grease calm conditions, and finally, sunny skies, and the picture was complete.
As if the success found wasn't already enough, we had a little extra time to spend targeting trophy or "premium" yellowtail as we call them before heading up the line. As we poked our way along we came upon as picturesque a spot as imaginable with birds up and doing their thing and big yellows plowing around underneath. We snaked our way through the kelp stringers to a perfect little opening, kicked over the anchor, and spent the final two hours scratching up twenty two 28 - 35# yellowtail amidst a fantastic surface show of straight primos. It was a perfect ending to a wildly successful day that cleansed our psyche of the traumatic, fishless first two days. It is a good thing, for all our sake.
I was talking with one of my favorite colleagues last night sharing some comic relief to alleviate the grief we were both experiencing. We have a running joke between us about keeping a bozo the clown and donkey suit in the closet for those occasions when we make a boner move. The threat is to don either upon return in the event a trip doesn't work out due to an avoidable fishing disaster. At the end of the day yesterday we were debating who was to wear which, the donkey or bozo. At the end of today, we were rolling up the spooner garb in mothballs for what will hopefully be a very long interval. As stupid as this ritual exchange probably sounds, it is hard to explain how supportive it is between us. We are brothers out here. Competitive as all get out, but there for each other in any and every way; good times and bad.
So we head back out a day's end ready to try our hand offshore again in search of albacore and tuna. While we know it has been a real struggle, we also know that nothing has ever been located by not looking. With money in the bank in the form of an RSW tank near full of beautiful yellowtail, and ideal looking weather on the outside, it is time to get out there and do it. Like I told our anglers in our meeting upon departing the island: even if we don't catch a single tuna, it is the right move to make. I have never caught an albacore or tuna by not trying for them. Here we go.
Photo of the day features long time Royal Star veteran Wayne Tamanaka pulling on the long rod in quintessential yellowtail form. Afterward, Wayne and Capt. Sims display his prize that was wrested from the grip of the kelp during an epic battle. Look for tomorrow's final trip report.
Day one offshore struggling to make it happen is part of the game - you don't get 'em every day. Day two offshore with zero for the effort is a whole different story. While one can slough off a day of slow fishing, a second day, consecutively, invokes an reaction that is far from good. Anglers are generally very good about absorbing the tough days recognizing the obvious fact that we are working twenty four/seven to get the job done. No sacrifice is too great, and no effort is spared. While I feel confident that my colleagues practice their trade with similar zeal, with certitude I report that we do always. Our anglers know this so they are not tough on us when the fishing goes south. One can see it in their faces though. One can't help but empathize. The disappointment is impossible to obscure by the end of a two day struggle.
We took a long shot today stretching out in search mode seeking a new offshore zone that showed tremendous promise on the temperature charts. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The conditions were there, as well as a few fish, but by 0900 we reached a critical point where a game changing decision was in order. With the breeze freshening, and a distinct sense of impending doom in the zone we were looking, we took off like a bat out of hell relocating for the late afternoon/evening. Even that merely served to set us up for the following day as the few fish we found we lazy and barely interested, but we got in some fishing; lines over the side from a stopped boat, that in itself was therapeutic. Tough fishing: no tales of glory, no jubilant anglers, no triumph to encourage the effort, and no results to feed the ego. No one cried themselves to sleep though. At least, I don't think so.
Tomorrow is a new day. A critical day admittedly, but we are all in. And, we are now in position in the triangle. A beautiful night of flat calm, stationary and angling, will be the preface to what we hope will be a day of fishing, and catching. One white sea bass has already come over the rail at the time of this report so we will see how the night unfolds. Regardless of the catching, this spot is heavenly.
Photo of the day features lucky long time Royal Star veteran Vance Husbands who got right down to business landing this twenty five pound class white sea bass in short order after we anchored our "secret" honey hole. Actually Vance wasn't lucky, he was fishing. Regardless he set the bar and incited a near stampede from the galley when he landed his prize. Fine job to Vance. And many more to come.
It was a search day offshore with very limited success - very limited. Once again we did a lot of fishing, covered a lot of water, and stretched out the day as we rolled down looking for some sign of new fish working north. Though we did see fair sign of nice yellows on kelps, no tuna were to be found after mid morning. Fortunately Mother Nature did her part in flattening out the seas although she has definitely fallen way short of showing favor in the albacore and tuna department. She is really testing our mettle making us suffer and reel in the throws of withdrawal. We contend with enough abstinence as it is. This is pure torture.
While I regularly tout the additional attractions of long range fishing - whales, dolphins, turtles, swordfish, and a wealth of amazing sea life experienced up close and personal by our anglers, the fact is that the fishing, no, the catching, is the still best part; for anglers, Captains, and crewmen alike. So we sally forth day two pent up, and all in a sweat for release in the form of clobbering some fish. As I mentioned previously, lord help the devils when they finally do come around in the mood to bite. It is going to be hammer time.
Photo of the day features Glenn Busch with one of the day's eight triumph's. I have mentioned the value of relative success before. Thirty percent of our anglers wound up in the victorious category with a fish in the hatch today. Now that's an fine example of viewing the cup as half full. And, that's about as much humor as I can muster at the end of this day. Congratulations to Glenn who is a first time Royal Star angler. While I am irritated by today's lack of results, in no way does my whining diminish his accomplishment. Thank goodness. A few hundred more and everything will be fine. Enjoy your Sunday.
A quick turn and we are back at it pushing south as part of a calculating collective effort to get some biting offshore fish located. It appears that the weather is poised to cooperate backing off a notch or two beginning tonight. Although conditions have been plenty workable, less bump and roll will definitely make the effort more agreeable, and hopefully elicit some kind of change.
RSW tanks filled with perfect tuna and albacore. I can already see it. I can vividly recall the aroma of a tank full of albacore when the hatch is removed and we begin pitching fish off the boat. And I don't mean a bad aroma. When properly cared for albacore have a distinct aromatic signature that is almost sweet to the olfactory receptors. It is unmistakable.
I have been told, and have read plenty on the power of visualization. I'm game. Right now anything is worth a shot. The conventional approach is obviously in need of a supplement. Might as well augment the effort with the unconventional. There won't be any chanting, idol worship, or sorcery happening on the bridge; I am way too practical for such hi-jinks. But positive thinking, and visualization - why not?
All kidding aside we have another five days to get the job done with a eager group of anglers ready to do their part. The offshore scene is again looking difficult as the spots of albacore and tuna continue their hunger strike in protest of I don't know what. By far this is rapidly becoming the strangest summer for offshore conditions and results in my memory. Though I have mentioned it plenty I'll say it again - we are reminded daily, in small ways and large, of how much we really don't know out here. This year is the crown jewel of that notion.
Plugging this into the equation we fall back onto the only real option available. Wake up, set the jigs, climb the mast, and get to looking. Absolutely nothing more than effort is going to make it happen. The best days of fishing are those that produce in the face of challenge. In that respect the set up is flawless. Finding an area of biting fish right now would be akin to winning the lottery. I mean it too. That's how deep our sentiments about catching fish lie. It is that profound; an endless driving force that can only be satisfied by getting them. And then getting them again, and again, and again, etc.
Photos today feature Humboldt Fishin' Lumberjacks angler Jill Higgins who jumped in the action to settle her interest in gaffing a fish. We were more than game to let her give it a try. Fortunately, so was angler Zane Hinrichs, who went along with the effort all smiles. A couple of swings to get the feel of it, and the yellowtail was drilled and lifted on board - nothing to it. Offshore tomorrow - here we go.
You guys don't need to share in my mini tragedy but I have to report that today's original narrative, after much thought and effort, was deleted into oblivion before being sent. I don't know what happened, but I know I was none too pleased. As such let me offer an abridged version. We caught nothing today. It was received with little consternation however as we were all flying high following our good hit on the sea bass and yellowtail during the previous twenty four hours. Despite seeing plenty of sign offshore, again the results were less than productive; zero in fact - skunked
As I mentioned we took it in stride focused on the good part of the voyage as opposed to the opposite. It was easy to do with a beautiful catch of quality yellowtail, a fair sprinkling of albacore, and white sea bass in the RSW tanks. Two other points before I sign off for the day. First: our most gracious thanks to Craig Heberer who heads up the annual Humboldt Fishin' Lumberjacks voyage as charter master. Our gratitude also extends to every angler in the group who, in addition to being dedicated to the pursuit of fish, are wholly focused on making a good time of every opportunity presented. It has been our pleasure fishing with all of you.
Photo of the day features anglers Michael Sugars, Chris De Wees, and Scott Gray presenting their quality yellowtail and sea bass from our "secret" little honey hole. Job well done men. Look for the narrative to continue as I have the pleasure of taking the helm on tomorrow's upcoming five day voyage.
78 white sea bass was the night's total. Throw in 25 yellowtail in the 25 - 37# class and one can say it was a good night of fishing. In fact, the sea bass score is a career high for me. 55 pounds was the largest, with a handful more stand outs in the 35 - 46 pound class, but the vast majority were 25 - 30 pound fish. A couple of handfuls of eager 12 - 20 pound fish showed up at day break, and we accommodated them with a clear conscience as well. I've got to hand it to these anglers - they were night warriors to the highest degree; nothing like biting white sea bass to bring out the inner strength.
As one could almost count on, the day following our hit on sea bass continued the roll. While intent on rooting out premium yellowtail, we continued to find vast quantities of 17 - 22# fish just about everywhere we looked. It was one of those amazing yet consistent times when the last thing you need is what you continue to find. Rest assured that if we were starving for fish we would drive around all day struggling to find a scrap. With an RSW tank wedged with perfectly cared for yellowtail it seemed as if every yellowtail in the ocean was up and eager to join their friends everywhere we searched. Like I said - it is amazing how consistent this scenario is. We'll take it.
Just before departing for our final day in the offshore grounds, we were treated to a spectacle of nature consistent in this zone. Our timing coincided with an eruption of yellowtail along about a half mile stretch of beach that exposed the terrific plight of a sardine living in this area while demonstrating the superior status of the yellowtail. From the deeps came the yellows that swept along the shoreline and drove the panicked sardines outside. After the big push it was pure mayhem. Between myriads of arguing, flying, and diving sea birds that were staged to take quick advantage, and thousands of surfacing yellowtail transforming the tranquil surface into a cratered field of shimmering scales and sardine wreckage, it was another one of those grand performances to which we had front row tickets. It was an ideal finale that topped off an epic twenty four hour fishing marathon.
Needless to say anglers hit the sack satisfied following a phenomenal RSW yellowtail presentation by Chef Drew Rivera that perfectly showcased the inherent quality of this fish. With proper bleeding, pithing, and cooling, the meat of yellowtail is near white in color, and delicate in flavor and texture. Yellowtail are superior table fare as long as they are handled correctly. With less than perfect handling the results are considerably less appealing. But, this is no revelation, and is basically true of all fish we retain.
Offshore we go as our final day will target the coveted albacore and bluefin that continue to be found in abundance, but also continue their maddening, not biting behavior. One of these days. Perhaps tomorrow will be it. There was a notable change reported by one of our colleagues. With any luck a new dawn is breaking.
Photos today feature husband and wife team Morgan and April De Wees with a morning yellowtail following an epic night run on the sea bass by Morgan who landed a limit in short order. Also, Shawn Chase with fine example of the better, 35 pound grade sea bass in the mix throughout the night. Enjoy your day and look for tomorrow's final voyage report.
It stands to reason that if one continues to work at it, eventually the odds will come around. In this example am not necessarily referring to just catching fish. Dedicated effort, at least in my case, makes catches of fish for anglers the majority of the time. What I am referencing are those occasions when what one does, and how one does it, seems to just naturally fall into place. It is awfully nice when it happens that way. And, is the well deserved reward for those who spend the majority of the time earning it the opposite.
After what felt to me like an eternity, when every fish we landed was the result of pure grit and drive, we finally hit it right. Following another arduous day of fruitless offshore effort, we arrived in the promised land. One anchor job got it done. Epic yellowtail action on 16 - 25# fish with a surface show and voracious hoards of fish that scrubbed our memory clean of the agonizing lack of morning and mid day results.
Then, fat and happy with money in the bank, we took a long shot in search of variety. Premium grade yellowtail and white sea bass were the quarry. And premium grade yellowtail and white sea bass were found - and cooperated. I can not even begin to relate how refreshing, how cathartic this afternoon and evening have been. Two hours of wide open yellowtail action, then a nice scratch on 25 - 35# yellowtail and white sea bass. The day ended with another beginning. The sea bass were still biting as this report was being drafted. Look for tomorrow's report with the final details. It is feeling right. We are going to get some.
Photos today feature anglers enjoying the action just prior to sundown. Needless to say every angler was ready for full power at this point of the voyage. After the initial hit, that was admittedly more about production than joy, the relief valve tripped, and the fun part kicked in. It is funny how that is, but very consistent. After anglers put a few in the hatch, a palpable change occurs. Everyone unwinds and savors the whole picture. Here are a few pictures of anglers mid way through the process of unwinding.
And after the big build up - lots of fish, here we go, big opportunity, this is it - they didn't bite today, again. Oh there is no shortage of them. Rest assured the fathometer does not lie. But, despite our best efforts we hoodwinked a mere thirty of the devils before closing the book on another extremely trying day - for me anyway. The scene on deck is another story. In fact, we could not ask for a better group of anglers to enjoy a day on the water with. Good working weather set the stage as anglers settled in to the routine and whooped it up when the fish did bite for a few brief moments. To this group the cup is definitely half full. It is a good thing.
With the writing on the wall, we opted to relocate tomorrow seeking another offshore destination where what we encounter is in a more cooperative mood. How about that. In complete defiance of the age old rule "never leave fish to find fish" we move on. Though I am stoic in my acceptance of fact, I have to admit I am harboring borderline rage within. I have done a lot of fishing over the years. And I have looked at a lot of fish that do not bite. But, I struggle to recall a longer period of time when we have looked at such fantastic quantities of fish that do not even so much as even react when we find them. It is maddening. With no rhyme or reason for the scant up days when they let down their guard, it leaves one little choice other than to forge ahead and hope your day offshore is the lucky one. I have to tell you all that I do not appreciate the odds when a day's success boils down to luck. It is simply not my nature.
At present such is the fact however. So we push on satisfied as possible with the bird in hand. We are loaded with perfect bait, have a epic group of anglers intent on making a good time of whatever opportunities manifest, and three full days to get the job done. No photo's today as my consternation over not biting fish regularly leads to absentmindedness in the photography department. Honestly I wish I could get over it. It would be wonderful to just accept the situation with a sanguine disposition and consider one fish coming over the rail as good as a hundred. Don't look for that reaction from me anytime soon. Tough circumstances elicit resolve and unshakable determination in my fishing instinct. When it gets tough cheer leading is the farthest thing from my mind. Wrenching every last one of the bastards from the elements is foremost. Randy is the same. All anglers should use this revelation in deciding which vessel to ride and who they want to fish with. Do you want a Captain with pom-poms shaking on the bridge, or a fisherman with jaw set and blood in his eyes living and breathing to pummel the quarry? Give me the fisherman - naturally.
Well this certainly is different. Departing on a voyage with several promising offshore prospects and an ocean that appears to finally be coming around. Wow, how refreshing. As it is shaping up, the albacore seem to have simply taken a leave of absence disappearing, save for a few here and a few there, over the past couple of weeks. Typical albacore. This pattern is so familiar that it should not be a surprise. It never ceases to amaze however. The fact that the ocean can present such a bleak outlook; a set of conditions and lack of fish that creates near despair and disillusion, then, in one or two days completely transform from a barren desert to a lush taiga. It is incredible - no matter how many times we are witness to the transformation.
It is also an incredible relief. In my world there is nothing better than summer offshore fishing where we are targeting quality albacore and tuna with a high ratio of success. Not that we are there yet, we have this, and plenty more trips yet to come. But, the last couple of days offshore have done wonders for our confidence. The albacore are here. And it is only a matter of time before they let down their guard and really get to chomping. Rest assured that with every resource at our disposal aligned we will be on them when it happens. I can't wait as I definitely have a score to settle.
So today we depart on our annual "Pelagic Fish Survey" with a fantastic group of individuals boasting an impressive background in fisheries science. The Humboldt Fishin Lumberjacks group assembles annually to head offshore with the sole purpose of "collecting" samples for consumption and enjoying the ocean from purely recreational perspective. Needless to say with our interest in fisheries science and research well known through our tagging projects, we look forward to this annual opportunity to expand our knowledge by swapping stories and information and sharing good times with the experts.
Reports will continue as we get this voyage started tomorrow in search offshore for whatever comes our way. As I mentioned, prospects are good and spirits are accordingly elevated. Let's hope tomorrow's results follow our enthusiasm. The stage is set.