And the trend of change continues as the final day dawned featuring twenty five knots of wind, a giant northwest ground swell, choppy four to six foot seas, and understandably waning angler enthusiasm; especially following the prior six days of flat calm conditions. If we wanted them today we were going to have to work for them. In this region these conditions make for a heck of a time trying to anchor effectively as the predominately soft, muddy bottom is leagues from ideal for grabbing. And with the exact condition to severely challenge the effort manifest so began one of those long days sardonically coined the "dragathon" where we basically set up long, controlled drifts sliding down the two mile long bank boat length by boat length hoping to collect fish along the way. To make matters more challenging, the zone featuring the best concentration of life was naturally the worst bottom on the bank for anchoring.
This is the real life of a long range fishing Captain. These situations, that are common to us, and nothing beyond the ordinary demands and challenges we contend with while trying our consistent best to put fish on the boat, are best overcome with a sanguine perspective bolstered by confidence, fortitude, and determination. There is no room for quitters in this environment, and no reward for complacency. Likewise any lack of preparation, experience, or understanding of the stakes out here typically leads to the expected result of very little in the hatch when the fishing time comes to an end.
So, with little time remaining, horrible conditions to work with, and rapidly diminishing enthusiasm for the challenge among anglers, we did what we always do on Royal Star in these occasions - we doubled down. Just when one would have expected the trip to be called, the bell to be rung, or to hear the shrill pitch of the robust feminine soprano, we gave it another try employing a strategy that I have successfully established in the past. Contrary to a few skeptics and doubters, the result was a final evening hit that unfortunately ended in the agony of defeat for three out of four anglers fortunate enough to hook big cows, but elation for about ten other anglers who closed out their voyage with final 100 - 140# yellowfin tuna prime for the ride home in premium, RSW storage. One 215 was mercifully boated by long time Royal Star favorite Mike Norenberg amidst hideous, extremely challenging big fish conditions. In the end we were very pleased and grateful for the final hit that ended the voyage on the high note we strived for. I can definitely report that in the face of very difficult conditions, we demonstrated what we are all about as fishermen on Royal Star. When I spent four summer seasons and one full year working for west coast fishing legend Eddie McEwen on the Pacific Queen our motto was "Fish with Fishermen" In fact, the logo on the old boat t-shirts was emblazoned with a little caricature and this quote. Twenty five years later, Randy, Brian, our entire crew, and I carry this sentiment as a foundation on Royal Star every voyage. Fishermen can rely on it.
Photos today feature two very deserving, highly accomplished anglers whom I am very glad for the opportunity to share this voyage with. Jay Love, and John Cox demonstrated their skill as anglers throughout the voyage landing their share of the action in every circumstance. As important, and certainly of greater significance, was their unsolicited assistance with the overall effort as both men, after taking a reasonable amount of fish for themselves, volunteered several of the big fish they hooked to anglers at the rail with less thereafter. As an example of character, kindness, and ability, Jay and John's effort was unsurpassed.
Jay's photo with a fat 206 is a little fuzzy from the night perspective, but definitively does the proportions of this beautiful specimen justice. John's 219 glows in the morning light after succumbing to a well placed squid chunk fished way back. Thanks to both Jay and John for your assistance in making this a memorable voyage for all of us.