Royal Polaris Seven Day Trip Dec. 15, 2021

Sailing La Reina

Almost A Member
Apr 10, 2019
210
398
66
San Pedro, CA
Name
Chris
Boat Name
La Reina
I started sport fishing just over two years ago. Looking to take a 10 day trip, but not knowing much about the San Diego long range fleet, I decided to take short trips on as many of the big name SD boats as I could, to determine which ones suited me best for a long range trip. Over the past 12 months, I have had the pleasure of fishing on the Independence, American Angler, Shogun, Intrepid, Excel, Royal Star, Polaris Supreme and the Royal Polaris. Most were 1.5 day trips with some 3 day trips and one 5 day trip. This seven day trip on the Royal Polaris would be my last and longest trip of the year. All last year, I really enjoyed and benefitted by reading the Bloody Decks trip reports. They really taught me a lot and helped me to prepare for my upcoming trips. Now it is time I give back. Here is the report from my recent 7 day trip on board the Royal Polaris.

One week out from the trip and I’m in the garage. “Hmm, the garage freezer’s still half full of bluefin. Gotta get it out. Better send a text to all my sashimi loving friends.” Bluefin give away. Come and get it! That worked, now all I have left is a few fillets and a milk crate full of collars. The freezer will accommodate six milk crates so there is plenty of room now. Ok. I’m ready for my first trip to Guadalupe island. The Royal Polaris has been going there with regularity so I’m thinking that the odds are in my favor that my trip will end up there as well (fingers crossed). It’s a bucket list destination for me, and I’d really like to see Jurassic Park island first hand.

For weeks I’ve been reading up on how to fish the island, it’s challenges and it’s rewards while using bits and pieces of the days leading up to get things ready. The reels have been serviced. I did the Avets myself (thanks Mark Mayo for the excellent instructional YouTube videos). The rods have been selected and matched to their respective reels (I even bought a new rod and reel just for the Guadalupe yellowfin). The clothing, line, tools and tackle have been selected. All is ready, and all is good. What can possibly go wrong?

Four days prior to leaving, I’m at work and in a hurry. I have to move a heavy piece of metal from an awkward position, so I grab it with one hand, give it a big yank and put it where it needs to go. A moment later, I feel a sharp pain in my forearm. I start talking to myself, “What did you do this time? You know only bad things happen when you are in a hurry.” But not having time to stop, I kept moving the other equipment that had to go too. The next day, I awoke to a swollen, purple forearm and the realization that I had torn a muscle. Great news for a guy who plans on fighting fish with a rod and reel for seven days. After worrying about it for a day or so, I decided that if I got on a fish and my arm really started hurting, I’d hand it off or call a deckhand and have him bring it in. The boat has ice, so I could ice my forearm down each evening if necessary. There, problem solved and I’m all set for The trip - or so I think.

Two days before the trip, I get an email from the RP office with last minute details about the trip. I always love getting those emails as they remind me that the trip is right around the corner. Yippie! While reading it, I got to the part about what gear to bring. The list included recommendations for tuna fishing, yellowtail fishing and… wahoo fishing? What? There’s no wahoo at Guadalupe. Has the destination changed? A quick call to the RP office confirmed my suspicion. Guadalupe was not a destination for this trip. Royal bummer - all the time spent reading, studying and planning how to fish the island… oh well, that’s fishing.

“So, where are we headed” I asked? “The Ridge” I was told, with a possibility of the Alijos Rocks if the weather cooperated. The Ridge? The Rocks? It is amazing how quickly sadness can turn to joy. I have wanted to fish these destinations as much as Guadalupe. Each of these places will be a first for me, so I’m fired up all over again. The only problem is that I have only two days to make any changes to my gear and try to learn something about wahoo fishing. Luckily, I had four wahoo bombs and four raider jigs in my possession, so that helped a bit. Back to Bloody Decks I went, typed “wahoo” in the search box and read all I could about fishing those razor toothed beasts. Ok, I’m ready to roll once again. All I have to do now is pass the pre-boarding Covid test that will take place at 8 AM at Fisherman’s Landing.

Wednesday, Day 1: The drive, the check in and the shopping.
The two hour drive from Torrance to the landing was clear all the way, and I found a great parking spot right behind the Fisherman’s Landing building - gotta love fishing in the winter. On to the Covid test. After sticking the swab up my nose for the Covid test I had to wait about 10 minutes for the result. While waiting, I decided to go check out the wahoo trolling jigs in the tackle shop. So many choices, but I couldn’t decide which one was best. All that thinking started making me hungry. So pondering my options, I walked up to H&M landing and ordered a breakfast burrito at the little snack bar next door. As I was eating, I noticed Roy Rose walking by. He had just returned from an 8 day to the Ridge & Rocks, so I asked him what he recommended. “Get the Gold Nomad. They bite it really well,” he said. Armed with that information and my breakfast burrito, I headed back to get my test results: Passed. Fist pump, Yes! Then back to the tackle shop to pick up a couple of sabiki rigs and a Gold Nomad. After that, it was time to hang out and meet the other anglers going on the trip. There were some very experienced fishermen on the trip. I was looking forward to seeing some of them in action and to try and learn from them what I could.

Boarding was great, got my gear stowed away, and the boat headed out. It was windy with a bit of a lump in the water, but once we got on the right heading, it was all behind us, pushing us toward our destination. After a while the captain, Jonathan Yamate came down, gave us the safety meeting and told us the plan: “We are heading to the Ridge. We’re going to motor all day today, tomorrow, and get there by late morning on the third day. If we see something along the way, we may stop, but I don’t want to mess around. I want to get down there where the meat is.” Everything he said made sense and I was under the impression that for a relatively young guy, he knew what he was doing. After the meeting I was thinking,
“Motoring for two days. What am I going to do?” Mentally, I was still in work mode and had to make a conscious effort to unwind and relax. I was hoping to phase into vacation fishing mode sooner, rather than later.

Thursday, Day 2: Rigging for wahoo and setting up for tuna.
I brought 11 rods and reels, figuring I would rather be over-gunned than under-gunned. Starting with the rods and reels to be used first, I began putting them together, adding mono, fluoro, along with whatever hooks and sinkers I thought best. I got a lot of help and advice from 2nd Captain Trevon, who will get his First Captain shot on the 5 day after Christmas trip running the RP. He was pretty excited about the opportunity. Other members of the crew were busy putting wire leaders onto various jig, bombs and lures for the passengers. I had mine done too. By then I was firmly in vacation mode and decided not to connect to the boat’s wi-fi for the entire trip - a first for me. With winds at our back and following seas, we made good time traveling down the coast. Instead of a late morning arrival, we were now projected for an arrival at sunrise. Before going to sleep, I set my alarm for 4:30 AM.

Friday, Day 3: yellowfin on the ridge - Part 1
4:30 AM and the alarm goes off. I hop out of the bunk like an excited kid on the first day of school. After getting my gear on me, and some coffee in me, I head outside as the boat comes to a stop in the gray light. It’s a bit windy with a little swell, but easily manageable. After talking to some of the crew about my options, I decided on a dropper looped sardine to start with. Down the bait went. After about 60 seconds, bam. Fish on. After a little fight, a nice yellowtail was introduced to the deck of the boat and the RSW. We spent the morning anchoring and then drifting in an effort to find a school of hungry yellowfin, and at about 9:00 AM we found them, or they found us. Anywhere from 18 to 35 lbs, and they were biting. Most of mine were in the lower to mid to 20 lb. range.
The most common hooking methods were belly and collar. I used both, but found that the sardines swam more energetically when hooked in the belly. There was plenty of action and we landed 210 yellowfin that day. I kept seeing bigger fish than mine being landed and wondered how it would feel to fight one of the larger models. I would find out later the next day.

Saturday, Day 4: Yellowfin on the ridge - Part 2
On day two of our yellowfin search I woke up extra early to fish for mackerel. I caught four big ones, then the crew said we have enough. Later, It was time to start fishing. After trying multiple line combinations and hook sizes the previous day, I was still scratching my head on what to use on this second day. A friend of mine on the trip told me that someone had already limited out with 15 yellowfin on the first day. After finding out who the person was, I asked some questions about how he had been going about things. After our conversation, I had my plan. An 8 ft. 45 lb. rod matched to a Talica 12 with 65 lb. Spectra and a 10-12 ft. 40 lb. fluoro leader. No mono. I also dropped down to a size 2 Owner circle hook. Using an underhanded cast, I was usually able to get the sardine out far enough and pointed in the right direction to have it swim away from the boat.

Things were going fine, the yellowfin were biting and then the skipjack found us. They kept us really busy. If we could get a bait in the water, swimming away from the boat we would get bit 90% of the time. The only problem was 2/3 of those bites were skippies, which we would release back into the sea unharmed. There was one big, bad skipjack though, that fought more like a yellowfin. I was so impressed with the size and tenacity of that fish, I decided to keep it. Those two days had to be a record for how many baits I hooked, casted and how many fish got reeled in. I also caught a dorado and a triggerfish. Lunch that day was an excellent yellowfin poke.

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My last fish of the day turned out to be my biggest. I tossed in a light green, hard to catch sardine that took off right away. Within 20 seconds, the line really took off. Right away I could tell it was a larger model by the way it fought and took line over and over again, I was playing the drag semi-conservatively as I had already lost some fish due to pulled hooks. The fish was a fighter and did not want to come up. It was also a pain in the neck, constantly tangling my line with others, keeping the deckhands busy untangling the mess. Then, it made a mistake. It decided to run up the side of the boat from the stern to the bow. “Now’s my chance” I thought as I ran up the side deck, reeling and taking line as fast as I could. It worked. By the time I ran the 100 feet to the bow, the fish was just below the surface, tired and ready for the gaff. At the end of the day, both my arms were tired - I think everyone’s arms were tired, and everyone seemed pretty happy as well. The total number of yellowfin caught on that day was 237. The total for both days combined was 447 yellowfin for 30 passengers. We had most certainly found the meat.
You can follow this link for some pictures of the yellowfin and yellowtail:
https://www.royalpolaris.com/?p=2756

During dinner the captain came in and told us that “tonight, we will be headed to Alijos Rocks to fish tomorrow for wahoo and maybe giant grouper.” Everyone cheered. Here is a picture of that night’s pork loin.
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That was the good news. The bad news, which we found out later as we tried to sleep was that the heading the boat had to take to get to the rocks put the NW swell directly abeam of the boat. Lots of rocking all night and not a lot of sleeping. But hey, that’s fishing.

Sunday, Day 5: Wahoo at Alijos:
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I was late signing up on the trolling board the day before as I was on a fish when the sign up announcement was made. I ended up on trolling group 3. Historically, three has been a lucky number for me, but not this time - more about that later. Seeing the rocks for the first time was exciting, and the thought of what might be swimming out there was even more exciting. We started trolling at 7:30 AM. After 90 minutes of non-stop trolling, we got our first hook up. My fishing buddy Chuck was the lucky troller! He got his fish in, gaffed and landed in short order, a 40 pounder. It was becoming clear though that there were not that many fish out there. The water temp had dropped a couple of degrees over the past week and things were slow.

Finally I heard what I was waiting for, “trolling group three, you’re up!” I was all ready to go. My new lure was clipped onto the boat’s trolling rod and I let it back behind the boat’s wake, waiting for the deckhand to double check my work. The boat had not made any turns, and ran straight. After a short while, the guy trolling next to me called over a deckhand. Then the captain showed up, walked over to me and told me to reel my lure in. What I ended up reeling in was a cluster of knotted up wire, with my lure nowhere to be found. WTF? The Captain told me that the lure next to mine had been damaged previously and did not track straight. Instead, it made a bee-line to my line, tangled everything up and cut off my lure. I had a wire leader on, so it must have happened a little further up the line. Oh well, that’s fishing. I went over and borrowed a friend’s lure to resume trolling, but there was never another bite.

At mid-day we did a little bottom fishing for rockfish and grouper. A few rockfish were landed, but no grouper. Some of us were trying hard for them, though it wasn’t to be. We resumed trolling again for a while, but nothing was biting. We stopped fishing a little early that day so we could start the long journey to get to the yellowtail grounds up the Baja coast. By then, the weather was making a turn for the better. The wind was easing and so was the swell. That night, we had a smooth trip and peaceful sleep. Follow the link below for some pictures of the six wahoo that were caught:
https://www.royalpolaris.com/?p=2768

Monday, Day 6: Jigging for yellowtail
In my two years of fishing, I have only tried yo-yo jigging two or three times, and not very seriously at that. This time, I really wanted to learn how it was done. There were some experienced yo-yo’ers on board, so this was a great time to do so. I spent 80% of my time yo-yoing using my Avet JX Raptor. What a workout. By the end of the day, my arms were quite sore. I learned a lot though. Mostly I learned to reel like hell whether I felt like it or not. I managed to hook four yellowtail, but was only able to land one of them. I was using blue and white JRI jigs. I’m wondering if the treble hooks were too small. Who knows? I’ll be spending more time learning to yo-yo this coming year with Salas & Tadys. All in all, it was quite fun and challenging. There were a good number of yellowtail caught that day, just not by me. Still, a good day. Dinner was excellent. Here’s a pic.

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Tuesday, Day 7: Red rockfish and Ling a ding ding.
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Overnight, we headed up the coast for morning rock fishing and woke up to a spectacular red sunrise at an area off San Quintin. The last time I tried rock fishing, I had good success with a customized jig I was experimenting with. It was a 12 oz. Blue Ahi USA Assault Diamond Jig. I had cut off the bottom ring and hook, then ground the bottom end smooth with a file to minimize catching on the bottom. On the top ring I installed an assist hook. It worked pretty well. For this trip, I added an additional assist hook, resulting in two hooks, one short and one long. On the long assist hook I nose hooked two live sardines. On the short hook, I attached a strip of mackerel meat, making sure to go through the skin for better holding. I felt like I was dropping down a Christmas tree with gifts for all the good little fishy girls and boys. They must’ve also thought it was Christmas down there by the way they would go after that stuff. Once I worked my way through the experimentation and initial learning curve, it was a good sized fish on every drop, with more than half of them being ling cods! Some of the guys fishing near me were asking what I was using so I add this picture:

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After four hours of fun, it was time to head back up to San Diego. I had caught a total of 27 fish for the trip and I think most everyone was at or near their limit as well. Here is a pic of some rockfish we caught (I’m holding them, but they were not all mine).
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At about 12:30 PM we began the task of breaking down our gear and getting things ready for our arrival in the morning. With everyone tired, happy and relaxed, we finished the day off with a delicious dinner of prime rib and good conversation.

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The ride up to San Diego was the smoothest I have ever been on. We had an official dolphin escort for some of the way too. There was almost no wind and barely any swell. It was a great night of sleep.

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At 5:30 AM we got to the dock, unloaded, got our fish to the processors and said our goodbyes. It was a great trip, with new friends made, and good times had. I rate the Captain and crew up near, or at the top. The captain’s decisions and communication to us all was spot on, and the crew never stopped trying to help us in any way they could. You may be wondering if I intend to go on this trip again next year. The answer is no. That’s because I’m going on a 10 day trip on the Royal Polaris in October, 2022, and this time I’m gonna get my wahoo!
Safe and happy fishing to you all in 2022
 

4tunate

Almost A Member
  • Sep 26, 2021
    221
    481
    Reno, NV
    Name
    Brent
    Boat Name
    LowKeys
    Great report, it made me hungry~! It also made me miss the camaraderie of my fellow anglers. Something I find some solace here at BD this Winter as I prep for my Bluefin Summer.... Thank you, well done.
     
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    Tunahead

    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    17,405
    10,399
    Costa Mesa
    Name
    Ron
    Boat Name
    several
    Awesome Report and pics. GREAT TRIP!!
    Glad your snafu a work didn't cause you to cancel your trip. Glad I finished dinner by the time you got to the Ridge Report.All those food pics made my A1C nervous too. LOL LOL Good eats!!
    HAPPY NEW YEAR..now heal that arm.
     
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    Yellowtail Dan

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Apr 10, 2006
    4,489
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    Roseville Ca
    Name
    Dan
    Boat Name
    Excel, American Angler
    Great report, sounds like you had a great experience. The RP never disappoints

    I was on a trip on the AA that fished the ridge, 23 and the rocks earlier in the month. We spent two days at the rocks and had to grind for 54 wahoo and only a couple were troll fish. Their heads were sore from all the bombs and jigs that had been throw at them. You’ll get some on that 10 day
     
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    vegasandre

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Aug 20, 2010
    2,143
    2,803
    San Diego
    Name
    Andre
    Boat Name
    Any Boat that I can go on
    Thank you for taking the time to write such a great report. You fished quite the spread of boats this year. That is pretty cool! congrats on a great trip!
     
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