March 31, 2012
Well I suppose it is time to reveal the big maintenance project we are presently engaged in on Royal Star. Perhaps the most politically correct way to characterize it is that our re-power with brand new, state of the art machinery three years prior didn’t work out as planned.
The main engines in our vessels are akin to the heart in our bodies – everything relies on the sound function of this centerpiece. For us Captain’s, who travel thousands of miles at sea bearing the responsibility for any and every outcome, even a question about the mechanical heart of our vessel, even an inkling of doubt, is a cancerous seed of thought; and an even worse reality to balance our entire professional lives on.
Taking this into account, and as everyone reading can certainly imagine much, much more, Randy, Brian, and I made the difficult decision last October to move forward with another full re-power of Royal Star. While this option was the least desirable, all others were exhausted. After only three years we are again replacing our machinery – new main engines, new transmissions, new shafts, re- conditioned propellers – the works.
If there was ever any question in the minds of Royal Star customers about our dedication to the mechanical side of our operation this should erase any doubt. Once again Randy, Brian, and I are performing the vast majority of the work designing, fabricating, and installing all supporting systems. In addition to enjoying this kind of major mechanical challenge, our full participation pays big dividends when trouble shooting and/or repairs at sea are necessary. Every nut and bolt, every plumbing system, every electrical connection, every weld has our signature on it; and it is a good thing.
Today’s photos feature a few highlights from the first week of the project that is proceeding on schedule. The old units are out, the new are in, and we are well on our way to having them up and running within the next few days. Enjoy these images and look for more as the project continues.
A dramatic image of Ek today shared by long time Royal Star veteran and ambassador Dr. Stuart Exall who has a keen appreciation for all things in the successful execution of a journey to Clipperton isle. No doubt about the effort Ek is putting forth against his opponent in this battle. Wow! The next three shots were shared by long time Royal Star veteran Don Franks, also featured in one of the three. The other two again describe some of Clipperton's less subtle features. Meanwhile we are making fantastic progress on our grand maintenance project soon to be revealed.
A few more action photos from James Moran today preceeded by a fine image of the French research vessel L'Atalante that spent two days in the near vicinity of Clipperton during our visit mapping the bottom in modern detail. Otherwise a few more images from any number of the island's signature giant bird schools and one shot of the boys standing by to replenish our bait supply from a black spot plainly obvious beneath the log. Have a fine day!
A tribute to my friend Corbett Wright today who more than earned the distinction through his extraordinary fishing talent. A consumate big fish angler, Corbett puts his time in at the rail never missing a detail in both the fishing and surroundings. His results, on every voyage we have fished together, speak for themselves. One of today's images is a repeat I already sent from the trip, but at full resolution it is deserving of another look. These are two fatties that weighed in at 225 and 242 if memory serves me correctly. Enjoy the day!
A few more scenic selections today courtesy of James Moran and the "big lens". Everytime I sort through the wealth of images from the latest Clipperton voyage my enthusiasm for this amazing speck in the middle of nowhere is rekindled. Amazing is all I can say; simply amazing. And speaking of amazing, and of particular interest to any and all who may be considering the 2013 Clipperton run, the trip is presently pushing full with a building waitlist. If you wish to make the Clipperton adventure 2013 now is the time to call Tracy and confirm with deposit. Enjoy today's photos and look for plenty more to come!
Another varied selection of images today beginning with crewman Blake Wasano pulling on what became another 200 pound class yellowfin released on our final day of fishing. The second image captures first time Royal Star angler Ming who made the long journey from Thailand to be rewarded with fishing of a caliber previously unimagined. Needless to say Ming's world of fishing is forever changed folowing this adventure. Image number three shows a 212 landed by Ek just prior to gaff. And the final image is another angle of Stan's final 210, the last fish landed on the Clipperton 2012 adventure!
I had a request for a few more scenic shots so here it goes. Courtesy of Royal Star tagging legend and photographic master Don Franks here are a number of dramatic images detailing Clipperton atoll as the entirely unique destination regaled. Enjoy the day's selections. Our gratitude to Don for sharing the fruit of his labors.
Corbett Wright had the pleasure to put on a clinic for some company that arrived on our final day at Clipperton all the way up to the point when what was certainly a behemoth yellowfin chewed through the line. Shortly thereafter the sport fisherman's nightmare, that was inevitable as the same big foamer on the log that produced such incredible fishing for us was in this guy's sights before we even hit it, came to fruition. The only thing I can say in this case is that we were mighty glad it was our final day. However, I should add that despite the almost certain success of this set, we continued catching after it was completed with no appreciable difference in the sign where we were fishing.
The second round of photos features "Stan" pulling on what became his final deuce of the voyage. I am repeating a photo sent from the boat only this time a full resoultion. This shot is well worth it!
Ek begins the photo train today reefing on any one of his numerous good ones landed during the Clipperton voyage. Photo number two features Ek with his second (or third?) deuce of the voyage landed at the tail end of an absolutely insane stop that began on the giant bird school/foamer I shared a few days prior. Addtional photos feature anglers slugging it out on the bow during the same stop and one of the several two hundred plus pound yellowfin that was liberated after the boat was filled to capacity. I have to admit that even with a boat full of beautiful grade Clipperton yellowfin in the hatch this moment still pained me a bit. It was his lucky day.
Finding it somewhat of a struggle to present a theme today I ultimately didn't. However, the green background in the photo with big gear enthusiast (though ironically pictured here without his signature '80') Don Franks at least pays tribute to this day's traditional association. Otherwise Doug Taylor does the honors with his final dandy of the voyage that squeeked in just over the mark. Enjoy the St. Patrick's day festivities while we continue making progress on our end. The photos I am assembling are soon to come; they are worth waiting for.
A few more fishing photos and one scenic shot to begin a fine new day. "Stan" and I start it off with his first of two consecutive deuces one afternoon that weighed in at 219 and 237. This shot features his 219 with a very obvious grumpy sea state and angler Greg Packard working at landing his good one in the background. The second shot features Clipperton masters Dr. Stuart Exall and Doug Taylor enjoying a piece of what they have made numerous voyages to the atoll for. The third image features another piece that calls on a completely different, yet equally convincing, level.
Today's short photo essay should provide at least some idea of the magnitude of Clipperton atoll's potential when it comes to fishing and more. One look at these photos raises the obvious question: where else in the world does such incredible mayhem regularly occur? These photos were taken and shared by Australian angler James Moran who was as amazed as everyone else on board by the spectacle alone; the fishing that followed our arrival at such spots was anything but surprising.
In the shots of the "foamers" themselves one can't help by pick out the sharks right in the mix that almost inevitably arrive for the party wherever it erupts. Amazingly, even though there seem to be hundreds of "grinners" in the water, we tangle with very few in these circumstances. The tuna are so fired up and aggressive that the sharks don't hardly stand a chance. Enjoy and marvel at today's images and look for more to come.
What happens when an eager angler picks up the long rod and casts into a giant spot of crashing tuna and birds? Chef Drew Rivera, who has never been one to shy away from a challenge, took a few minutes away from the galley to find out. In the end, though Drew has triumphed over many good size yellowfin on the ten footer before, I'd venture he was a little relieved when this estimated 150 pound model threw the hook after about fifteen agonizing minutes.
Photo number two features ultimate long range and Royal Star veteran Doug Taylor pulling on a good one with a fantastic bird school providing the back ground. Speaking of bird schools. I'll post a couple of mind blowing images tomorrow of what Clipperton bird school action is all about. Have a fine day!
Well I hope everyone has their sense of humor intact this morning in appropriate preparation for one of today's images. The first shot features Corbett Wright with his 242 coming through the gate caught on morning four at the island. On this morning the weather was far less than good with even the lee side chopped up from the various swells assaulting the atoll from all directions. This spot wasn't too bad though providing both fair conditions and a real opportunity at catching big fish. In fact, this exact spot has produced quite a few bruisers on Royal Star during past voyages.
Photo number two features a comical shot of one of the atoll's many ambassadors taking five on our anchor gear one early morning. If this guy doesn't make you laugh I don't know what will. Good Morning!
Here are a couple of shots of "Ek" pulling on a big bruiser on the bow with his equipment of choice and the results - one of his several deuces landed during the Clipperton voyage; in this case a hearty 220. Believe it or not this was one of about a hundred other tuna in the 90 - 190 pound class that Ek subdued during the trip on this, or like tackle. Brute strength is his formula that is inarguable when taking his results into account. As amazing as the results themselves is his success ratio that is upward of 95%. Perfect rigging, unbelievable stength and ability, and uncommon passion for catching big yellowfin are what make Ek such and incredible fisherman. I have never seen better.
Look for reports to continue as we get our project up and running during the week. As I type this report we are already deep in it - no turning back now!
A pretty un-inspirational report today as we slogged up the line feeling
somewhat akin to a salmon struggling up river against an unrelenting current.
Though the weather was decent our velocity was abominable setting us up for a
1030 ETA at Fisherman's Landing on Saturday, March 10th. So be it; the important
leg of the northward run was completed in record time and comfort.
For now we primp and prepare Royal Star for our colossal upcoming maintenance
project scheduled to begin as soon as the fish are unloaded and the boat is shut
down on Saturday. For certain I plan to continue the stream of daily reports
during our down time as I still have a wealth of Clipperton images I am eager to
share at full resolution. Also, I look forward to sharing the progress of our
mechanical projects as we continue to invest heart and soul into the safe,
reliable operation of our vessel.
To return to the present however I remind all Clipperton anglers with plans to
meet us on Saturday to call Tracy in the office today after 1400 hrs. to receive
the most current ETA update. If you do not speak with her directly the ETA will
be available on our office answering machine after hours.
Photos for the day feature Thai anglers "Ming" and "Stan" enjoying the moment of
victory with their 185 (Ming) and 207 (Stan) respectively. In the case of "Stan"
this was his third over the deuce for the voyage all of which were taken using
his trusted Shimano Talica 25. If you are heading down to the show look for
Capt. Randy Toussaint and Brian Sims to be present today!
It was in high spirits that anglers departed loading into waiting launches in
the early morning following sincere exchanges of gratitude, affection, and
appreciation. Fine weather followed us all the way into the once sleepy enclave
of Cabo San Lucas to compliment the ultimate leg of the perfect northward
Around the corner was a different story. As so many past Cabo to San Diego
sojourns have demonstrated the fly home option is offered for a compelling
reason. By early afternoon the prior three days tranquility was replaced by
smashing and crashing through sloppy conditions while making slow time of it.
Needless to say the fun is over here. However when I consider the vast majority
of anglers already on board their flights home, or those that remained to enjoy
a couple of days extra in the entertainment laden Cabo San Lucas, I beam with
satisfaction. Good move men, good move.
Back to fishing, yesterday I forgot to mention the tagging anglers had the
opportunity to participate in during this voyage that added to our already
extensive list of tagging accomplishments and complimented the voyage in every
Senior Scientist Kurt Schaefer from the IATTC (Inter-American Tropical Tuna
Commission) joined us on this run seeking 98 volunteered yellowfin tuna to
release carrying archival tags in the waters surrounding Clipperton. I am
pleased to report that the scientific objectives were easily met as all anglers
eagerly volunteered tunas up to 150# for the project. Once again Royal Star
anglers demonstrated an elevated understanding of the responsibility we all
share as sport anglers to enhance the future of our fishery through exemplary
actions and sincere stewardship. My gratitude and respect is extended to
everyone who participated in the success of this endeavor.
Photos for the day feature two strong supporters of the project Robert Limon and
Andre De Botton. Both men readily embraced the releasing of tagged yellowfin
although Mr. De Botton is pictured here with crewman Blake Wasano and a 140#
specimen that received a different kind of tag on its gill plate before being
placed in the refigerated hold.
Last but not least the big Fred Hall show is up and running with both Capt.
Randy Toussaint and Capt. Brian Sims representing Royal Star as I take her up
the line. One announcement to make is the addition of two, brand new 3 day
voyages in early July added to meet overwhelming demand for a few shorter summer
trips on Royal Star. The dates for the new voyages are Sun. July 8th - Wed. July
11th, and Thur. July 12th - Sun. July 15th. The cost of each voyage is $1095.00.
See Randy and/or Brian at the show or give Tracy or Ann a call in the office if
you are interested. Both voyages are prime time and certain to fill so call or
book now to insure availability! Have a great time at the show.
Another day of flat calm, even calmer than the previous two in that the long
interval swell diminished, to cement the glowing success and positive atmosphere
encompassing this entire voyage. Across the board we all feel the same. We
experienced the distinct magic of Clipperton as a result of strong planning and
preparation, and even stronger divine intervention.
No matter how one slices it when it comes to fishing the luck factor in timing
cannot be denied. We nailed this one to perfection with Providence obviously far
in our favor. Perhaps my incredible affinity for the Clipperton region played
into the equation; I have certainly had more than my share of positive outcomes
on voyages to the distant atoll, but I'll leave that question open. I have the
answer in my mind.
Photos for today feature yet another amazing feat accomplished using equipment
so incongruous with the idea of targeting giant yellowfin tuna I need not say
more. What I will say is that with the anglers from Thailand embracing giant
yellowfin tuna fishing on Royal Star I have learned a great deal about what is
possible in the world of fishing beyond our noses.
I won't say that this is the right way to do it, or encourage anglers to run
down to the Fred Hall Long Beach show and rig up like this for giant yellowfin,
but one has to marvel about several aspects of this catch. Royal Star veteran
"Jew" has already made some incredible catches on the butterfly lures with this
exact outfit, including a yellowfin about 175 that he absolutely whooped. Such
was not the case this time.
However the total time in which this battle was settled was around 1 1/2 hrs.
And the whole time we were pulling on other fish drifting along collecting even
more. "Jew" tosses out the Shimano "Jigger", that is a reel specific for
butterfly type jigging I am not certain is even available in the states, loaded
with 130 spectra and mono. He next ties into a real giant and absolutely reefs
on the beast like he is trying to break the rod. Fifty pounds of drag pressure,
air tight rigging, and brute strength applied from beginning to end resulted in
this monster, 274 ultimately giving in. If I hadn't been there to witness the
event I would have been skeptical of the claim myself.
The first shot is of "Jew" pouring the coals to this beast about an hour into
the battle. The second shot features "Jew" and Captain Brian Sims with the rig
of the moment in hand and the vanquished behemoth dead center.
Nothing tedious about this day at all - flat calm seas and near zero wind have a
way of eliciting the best in all things nautical. The day was passed in comfort
and confidence as the jubilee from the prior evening carried on.
Heads are somewhat still in the clouds as the overwhelming success of this
entire Clipperton experience continues to sink in. Reflection only serves to
increase the grandiosity, recollections prompt forgotten, or subliminally
cataloged details; the sum total of such pure time shared with fellow voyagers
is a wealth of cherished memories - material of legends; rightly so.
Rolling into the second evening of travel, between the flat calm and focused
reverie, the tenor of sentiment favored flowing conversation and libations. It
made for a lively time of it as one could not but help succumb to the contagion
of high spirits. From the bridge perspective this is a dream setting; burgeoning
exuberance traveling home in flat calm conditions. Needless to say appropriate
homage is being paid again and again.
Photos today feature a fine promo shot with ecstatic angler Ulysses Quijada and
his first deuce that came in at a ripe 220. First of all the bite of this fish
was absolutely insane. Seconds after Ulysses bait entered the water some twenty
feet off the downwind corner this fish came flying out of the water with the
line clearly trailing from its jaw providing a perfect, full broad side view of
his imposing proportions. The morning sun highlighted all the colors and
imprinted an indelible image in the minds of the three or four of us who
witnessed the event. Incredible.
Any way here is Ulysses and his trophy along with the Royal Star crew, Corbett
Wright, IATTC senior scientist Kurt Schaefer, and several bottles of our
favorite sponsors brew. Ballast Point Brewery has sponsored every Royal Star
tagging voyage since 2006 sending along many cases of their refreshing
selections of Ale's to share with partaking guests. It has become quite a
tradition that was thoroughly appreciated in the tropical evenings at
Clipperton. It now almost goes without saying that Royal Star tuna tagging and
Ballast Point ale's go hand in hand - a fine combo from my perspective. I'll
mention more about our tagging objectives accomplished during this voyage
Photo number two features tuna man from days of old Greg Packard with his 197
landed on our final morning. Greg's knowledge from his days as a purse seine
tuna fisherman in the 1980's was shared to all our benefit throughout the
voyage; in particular on the final day when a working seiner arrived at the
island, made a close set, and provided us with a front row seat. Never a dull
moment; that's fishing!
A day of reverie, relaxation, and celebration as the trend of abating wind and
seas that began a few days prior continued all the way to flat calm. No wind, no
seas; merely a gentle, long interval swell from far, far away to compliment the
three day run to the north. We could not ask for more.
Throughout the day new legends were born as moments of glory were re-visited in
the form of countless digital photos and videos downloaded to various notebooks
along for the ride. I had the chance to review a number of images myself every
one of which beckoned a memory I fondly appreciate.
A voyage to Clipperton is of a special nature, one that requires far more of the
boat and her equipment, the crewmen, the Captain, and of course the anglers
themselves. For this reason success in this realm carries a flavor of triumph
particularly gratifying. It is no place for the faint of heart; extreme fishing
would be an understatement when describing Clipperton atoll at its best.
And that is the exact description I would assign to what we all just experienced
over the past week at Clipperton isle. Nothing I have ever seen or done beyond
this magical, minuscule isle in the middle of nowhere compares. No doubt I have
seen extraordinary fishing for giant yellowfin in many forms in many places,
that aspect of Clipperton is not exclusively original. It is the setting, the
nature; the competitive ferocity of all things that swim, fly, or crawl is
astounding. One sees and experiences things at Clipperton that are a page from
the distant past; the world as it was in prehistoric times. This atoll, this
voyage is about adventure. The rewards, the treasures, when revealed, are like
We glide into day two of travel now well rested and satisfied. The trick now is
to become well settled. There is no way to characterize the run up as anything
other than long and tedious. The fun is over, the battle was won, now the
victors, ready to claim their victory by sharing with the world, must wait. Two
more full days of travel serve to remind us all of why Clipperton isle retains
its magic. It is a destination forbidden to but very few. I'm glad of it.
Long time Royal Star veteran and huge supporter of the Revillagigedo tagging
project Don Franks receives photo honors today with this Clipperton 185 he
dominated on the "big gear" - kind of. I have to say that even Don had to
recalibrate his notion of what was on the end of his line down here. This fish
was a classic example. For a long while he had it figured that this was a
bruiser easily larger than the coveted two hundred pound mark. When it came over
the rail Don's exuberance was mixed with comical disbelief about the lack of
bulk in this seasoned scrapper. Stock Clipperton; I watched it all go down and
turned away with a beaming, mile wide smile. You earn them down here, big time.
And as the theme of change when relating tales of Clipperton is so prevalent why
should this round have been any different? It was straight big ones today; but
for a few sneaky 50 - 70 pound scouts at the front of a couple of stops, and a
few one hundred pounders, everything was 140 - 274 with the majority in the 170
- 190 pound class.
Another four over the deuce came aboard and we lamented the loss (not too much
though) of several other big bruisers. As the shift to almost all big ones again
arrived on the final fishing day, our remaining RSW tank capacity was quickly
consumed; they do not exactly stack like bricks. But, it was perfect timing.
Between the amount of pulling we have done, the extraordinary fishing, the
extraordinary sights, and the near unbelievable accomplishments many of these
anglers have achieved we had only reasons to celebrate; this was the icing on
the cake. We shut down for a few minutes mid morning to do some rearranging in
the tank, created a little additional space through a combination of brain and
brawn, then headed back up to our zone of choice to give it one last go. Of
course it was so good that that go led to another, but then that was it - maybe.
Filling the final space with four cookie cutter 160 - 180's, then releasing
about a dozen others, including one certainly over the 200 mark, we still found
ourselves in a position of incredible wealth with over two brimming full tanks
Recognizing this as a rare opportunity to embrace, I ran outside for a finale,
encore round salting down the entire area we were working in with a ten minute
steady chum line. And in this case the results we fairly predictable; the big
ones found us, most anglers couldn't help themselves, and engaged one last time
in battle with the ridiculously spirited jumbo Clipperton yellowfin tunas. Two
more over the deuce were added to the tally and wound up being rendered down to
gallon bags in the meat freezers, five or six other 160 - 180's were released,
and that was it.
With a couple of hours to spare, beautiful weather and conditions, it was a
perfect opportunity to stop and smell the roses. Swim call was organized, the
anchor was set, and for two solid hours anglers became snorkelers, swimmers, and
revelers enjoying the magical setting of the white sand beach and swaying palms
back dropping the pure, unfettered enjoyment. Then, after one farewell pass up
and down the beautiful island lee, that was it. Sundown was the closing bell
that initiated the inevitable break to the north.
Photos today feature master angler and Royal Star favorite Doug Taylor pulling
on what became his "right at the mark" deuce on the bow, and Craig Cunneen in
classic position pulling on a good one on the stern among plenty of action in
the back ground.
Well any deficiencies in the fishing during the past two days were more than
made up for today. What incredible fishing! What incredible visuals! What a
living color example of the amazing potential this one of a kind destination
represents. This was the day I have been waiting for. All of my B.S. stories
about Clipperton's big schools, breaking fish, and swarms of boobie birds beyond
comprehension were proven true today.
A fortunate break in the weather seemed to usher in a maelstrom of life as 70 -
170 pound tuna, with a few bigger bruisers up to 220, stormed the shallow areas
surrounding the island. Whether coincidence or by grand design numerous logs
carrying tremendous amounts of bait set off a chain reaction best described as
seismic. At one point the whole end of the island detonated in a gigantic spot
of madly exploding tuna, sharks, and dolphins as fleeing bait fish spread out
in a hopeless dash for salvation only to be consumed by superior foe.
Needless to say the fishing, the catching actually, was superb; it was the kind
of action that is indescribable to one bereft of such experience; the kind of
action that when described to fellow anglers is received with encouragement, but
believed with a hearty measure of skepticism. Because it is simple right? There
is no way that it can really be that good.
Us fishermen are born to embellish and glorify; take whatever we relate
normally, cut it in half, then maybe one will arrive at the real description.
All this usually applies to some degree - unless the story comes from
Clipperton. There is no need to embellish the setting here. In fact, it is
actually quite the opposite. There are many times when the action is so
unbelievable that I actually have to tone down the description in order to make
it believable. This place has it's own set of standards. That is fact.
And to sweeten the occasion to an altitude of pure heaven, in addition to
spending the entire day pulling on seemingly endless big Clipperton yellowfin,
one of the logs that drifted in holding a huge ball of perfect "Cocineros and
Caballitos, provided the opportunity to replenish our tanks with loads, numerous
big brailers, of perfect hook and chum baits. While we were still okay on bait,
with plenty to make the remainder of the fishing time with confidence, there is
nothing like loading the tanks with a huge bonus. Now we have a surplus. Who
would have thought? But again, it is Clipperton - expect the unexpected.
Photos for the day feature a quick shot I snapped from the bridge as we
approached one of the logs a long while after the big bonanza had taken place.
Even though the majority of the boobies sat down there was still enough bait to
keep the tuna fired up and foaming. Photo number two features a group shot on
the bow just after we stopped on this log. Hot and heavy was the theme as Don
Franks, Ulysses Quijada, Corbett Wright, Aoh, Captain Brain Sims, and several
others not pictured combined in this quentessential Clipperton moment. All's
well to the far south; All's well.
We were dealt the inclement weather hand to say the least this morning as 22 -
30 stiff knots of breeze, and a bounty of 4 - 8' seas and swell from just about
every direction of the compass, made for a sporty time of it. Needless to say
the fun of that brand of adventure wears thin in short order; especially when
the sign of fish is marginal at best, and what is to be found is not biting.
But, feeling a bit squeezed by yesterdays results, the fact that time is at a
premium down here, and the simple truth that it takes more than a little weather
to quell our drive to produce, we gave it the full effort. The full effort
however did nothing to improve the state of conditions. It was hideous and
arduous - no fun at all.
Finally, after an admirable attempt to ignore the obvious, I made the call at
1130 to give it a rest. Into the lee we motored intent upon setting up with
plenty of scope and riding out the blow while fishing in comfort. Catching was
another story, but the sea state was calm, we were secure, and the scenery was
breath taking to the point of being difficult to divert ones eyes.
Keeping a close eye on conditions while indulging in sight seeing, a mid
afternoon break in the wind was immediately recognized, and we quickly pulled
anchor to take advantage of the good fortune. And I am very pleased to report
that the good fortune did not end there.
As we rounded the atoll pushing out into the weather we locked on to a spot
almost immediately while enjoying a markedly smoother ride. The spot had a
familiar Clipperton signature that I have witnessed here probably a dozen or
more times. It had the look of a floating log that drifted in carrying bait that
was discovered with delight by all the island's resident apex predators. As we
approached I couldn't quite make out the object, but I certainly knew what the
sonar was reading. It was a good school of tuna that were ready to bite; they
were not fickle.
It was just what the doctor ordered to remind this fine group of anglers again
of just what Clipperton is about. I have offered many times that this
destination has the most amazing ability to change in short order; far more
consistently than anywhere I have fished. Today was yet another example of the
fascinating nature of Clipperton; expect the unexpected. A couple more handfuls
of 90 - 140's, about the same number of 50 - 70's, and a chunky 203 for long
time Royal Star veteran Mike McHatton were the total for our day. In light of
the ominous beginning we could not have asked for better fortune.
Photos for the day feature the ultimate gentleman and scholar Andre De Botton
whom I had the pleasure of meeting on the May tagging voyage last year. I'll
present more about the gracious character of Mr. De Botton perhaps on the run
north. For now here is Andre in action on the bow with Blake standing by to
Also featured today, all the way from Thailand, is Ek with a hearty 203 coming
over the rail. Like his good friend Stan, Ek is an extraordinary fisherman of a
caliber very few will ever achieve. Anyone familiar with Royal Star may remember
the video on our Facebook page of Ek landing a absolute giant at Socorro on a
rod and reel combo that defied reason. Through sheer strength and determination
Ek has shattered just about every idea of what isn't possible in the way of gear
for targeting giant yellowfin tuna. He easily subdued this 203 proving, along
with Stan, that their combinations can be lethal in the able hands of a master.
And believe me "Master" is more than appropriate when describing Ek's fishing
ability. He is an incredible angler.
Howling wind and pummeling rain introduced this day as a profound example of
unsettled tropical weather; at 10 degrees north latitude, just six hundred miles
and change from the equator, it is to be expected. And expected, and prepared
for we were hunkered down while the extreme fresh water rinse spruced up the
deck area lending a fresh and clean feeling to the new day.
And so typical of this region after daylight the squalls dried up and that was
that; no more rain after one brief spat at 0700. Unfortunately however the wind
did not follow suit making for a sloppy, very confused sea condition augmented
by a generous northwest ground swell, and mixed up 4 - 6 foot seas. I have to
admit that such conditions are not motivational, and even counter productive at
times. This was one of them. After a few passes and attempts in the weather we
beat a fast retreat for the lee side to try our hand in a few old haunts
discovered many years prior in just such conditions.
At one such "secret" spot the man himself, Corbett Wright, finally got the day
started with a fat 225. From there it was back to the weather that thankfully
abated somewhat by the late afternoon. Weather or otherwise though we were
there; it takes far more than a little challenge to spoil this party. And it is
a good thing as Corbett's ice breaker paved the way for a couple more well over
the deuce, and around twenty five more 90 - 190's. Overall production was down
from the prior three bonanza's, but the slight decline did nothing to affect
morale and enthusiasm. The sign of fish is still extraordinary, and, as we
merely reached the halfway point today, we still have plenty of time. There will
be more Katy bar the door type action before this is over, and then some.
Of special note today, and way worthy of mention, was the capture of consecutive
cows at 219 and 234 landed by one of the finest, most durable anglers I have had
the pleasure to know. Sakda Chittasenee, known to us as "Stan" finally had his
day in the sun after a conservatively estimated hundreds of yellowfin in the 70
- 190 pound class landed on Royal Star during the past three years. The allure
of this style of fishing, and the temptation of giant yellowfin potential, has
motivated Stan to make four Royal Star voyages since 2010 coming all the way
over from Thailand.
Finally, after an already incredible catch history, Stan got, and made good, on
his shot at a couple of bona fide cows today. And true to form he made handy
work of both using his trusty Shimano Talica 25! I have referenced the amazing
feats all the anglers from Thailand have to their credit using the Shimano
Talica 25's. Today was simply another example of the incredible talent these
guys possess, and the extraordinary capabilities of the Shimano Talica line.
Between the new Talica 50, that is by far the smoothest, lightest in its class,
most powerful reel any of us on Royal Star have ever used, and the 25's, the
results on this voyage so far speak for themselves. Our most sincere
congratulations are extended to Stan who is by far among finest rod and reel
anglers I have encountered. The stories of his indefatigable enthusiasm for
fishing are already too many to recall.
Photos for the day feature Stan and yours truly with his 234 and trusty Shimano
Talica equipped with 130# spectra and short,130# fluorocarbon top shot, and Greg
Packard putting the wood to a spirited 170 using the traditional gear on the