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Long Range

Long Range Report: Mazatlan shows potential for Star

BY GUNDY GUNDERSON/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Feb 05, 2019

Hurricane and buffer zone bites sputter

SAN DIEGO — The Royal Star has always been an innovator on the long range scene and the latest series of Mazatlan trips are an excellent example. The boat is seeking to access cow yellowfin tuna on shorter fly-down trips. The area accessible from Mazatlan often holds those 200-pound class fish. The traditional cow grounds found a scratchy bite with just a handful of cow chances on any given day. The slow bite saw 10 to 20 fish a day with most fish in the 100- to 150-pound range.


Royal Star and Mazatlan


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STEVE MENDOCA WITH a 213 Mazatlan cow. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL STAR SPORTFISHING


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PETE SPENCER WITH a 211 morning fish out of Mazatlan. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL STAR SPORTFISHING


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A MAZATLAN COW landed on the Star. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL STAR SPORTFISHING


The first trip in the series found an example of the potential these grounds hold. Capt. Tim Ekstrom was at the wheel and sent this report after a fine day of fishing, “As good an opportunity to catch a trophy yellowfin as we have seen anywhere. One fish at 211 pounds in the early a.m. led to a long day of poking and prodding as we explored new ground and got a feel for this zone. By late afternoon, while still prospecting, mast man/Captain Blake Wasano eagle-eyed exactly what we were looking for. Two different big spots of huge yellowfin were up on the surface chasing fin bait well within striking distance. The first spot disappeared before we got on it. The second spot sank out also but the trusty sonar pegged them and the rest was history.”


The veteran skipper continued with the blow by blow: “Once on top of them, we hit it long range style. The result was nothing short of astonishing. Huge yellowfin absolutely detonated mere yards from the stern, filling the circle with cavernous boils and epic acrobatic displays. The sight was breathtaking. Wow! Then the fishing and catching began. It took a few minutes for them to get going but get going they did. Textbook long range-style action on straight cows for two and a half hours. The end result was 6 fish over 200 and another three “smaller” 190s. What a stop! After that result it’s safe to say the potential we envisioned in this brand new enterprise was fully exposed.”


RP scratches


The Royal Polaris was on the traditional winter haunts of the fleet, the Hurricane Bank and the buffer zone. Although the bite was never a ripper, the storied boat under the tutelage of Capt. Roy Rose was putting together a good catch in a scratchy bite. Unable to send words or pictures due to lack of Wi-Fi coverage, the boat forwarded these reports via sat phone: “The Jerry Brown Line One Spectra trip is having excellent fishing on yellowfin tuna from 100 to 266 pounds with beautiful flat, calm weather. On Saturday we boated 31 yellowfin with the largest caught by chartermaster Don Burnside. Kudos to Don for his 266 pounder! We should all hope that at age 83, we too can be making four to five long range fishing trips a year and battling fish of this size. Congrats to Joe Amagrande for his 213. Many of the other fish caught ranged from 170 to 190 pounds.”


Another day and another report with a humorous twist, “On Sunday, we ended up with 12 yellowfin tuna on board with 1 over the 200-pound mark. The weather and the bite continued to be excellent but many of the anglers in this group were enjoying a much deserved break from fishing and chose to spend their time playing cards and carousing in the lounge. Roy was pulling his hair out with only 4 anglers at the rail. Anyone want to take bets on whether Roy will have any hair left when the RP returns?”


The next message described it best. “Still scratching away, the Jerry Brown Line One Spectra trip is continuing to enjoy the calm weather and decent fishing. Yesterday’s fish count: 25 wahoo and 12 yellowfin tuna up to 185 pounds.”


Big X scratches


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BIG TUNA ARE the goal on the Big X. PHOTO COURTESY OF EXCEL SPORTFISHING


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WAHOO ON THE HARDBAIT landed aboard the Excel. PHOTO COURTESY OF EXCEL SPORTFISHING


After a sample of cows on the lower banks, the Excel was also down on the southern cow grounds and experiencing the same tedious bite. Capt. Justin Fleck was in the bridge of the big sportfisher and sent this report, saying, We spent a few days out at the Bank where we were able to scratch 15 to 20 tuna a day with a sprinkling of wahoo in the mix. Most of the tuna were in the 70- to140-pound range with a couple more cows coming aboard. We are heading back up to the Rocks to try for a few more wahoo.


Forgoing slow tuna fishing for fast wahoo fishing was the right move, he said. “We made it up to the rocks a little later than I would've liked but we still managed to pick up 30 more wahoo and a couple of handfuls of school-sized tuna.”


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