Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Team True takes the big bucks last minute at Cabo Tuna Jackpot Tournament
Tournament Director Pat McDonell called Friday the best fishing day in the history of the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament, as three cow tuna hit the scales to go with a parade of 100-lb to 190-pound yellowfin tuna. 

The biggest tuna of the event went to the Cabo Magic with a 213 that wasn't in any of the jackpots; but the Pennsylvania based husband and wife team could care less--Orville Henseler fought the cow tuna for an incredible 4.5 hours on 50-pound mono to 150-pound Seaguar while his wife, Cindy, looked on. The catch will give them 80 percent of the $43,200 in the overall jackpot, which worked out to a $36,720 payday. 

The biggest cash money winner hit the scale right as things were winding down. First Team True--which was in all the optional across the board-- weighed in a 164 pounder that knocked Maybe Manana's 149.4-pound fish out of the 10K jackpot. Then the team headed up by Captain Brett Elder hung up the cow that Chris Fuller caught. The scale stopped at 206 pounds, the crowd erupted, and the team claimed a sweep of the jackpots, topping the next biggest fish, a 205 for team Bottom Line, in the process. 

THE LAST MINUTE WEIGH IN of the 206 pounder on Team True had crowd erupt when the big fish came over the rail. 

The team won an incredible $158,520.00 in day two optionals to go with $4,320.00 for second overall.  They will get their check at Saturday night's Yamaha Outboards awards dinner catered by Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. 

TEAM TRUE started what ended up being an all night celebrationafter director Pat McDonell announced that they swept the day two optionals with their 206 pounder. 

The other big winner at Saturday's dinner will be Team Fisherman. The team was one of the favorites heading into the event, and their day one 107.7 pounder that was the biggest in the $2000, $3000 and $5000 jackpots, which gave the team the respective $21,600, $24,800 and $33,600 day one jackpots in each division, will earn the team $94,440.00.00. 

There's going to be plenty of checks to cut, as the day one winners on the Angelina, Anna Griffith, Marty Griffith and son-in-law Evan Villarruel were in the $500 and $1000 jackpots for their day one winning 198.1 pounder, which gave them $14,200 and $21,600, respectively, for a one-day total of $35,800.

The smallest fish to take down a chunk of the prize pool was Mark Callahan, who was one of six teams who entered the $10,000 jackpot. His 48-pound tuna will get him $36,000.

Team Bottom Line got edged out by just one pound right at the buzzer by Team True, but the two man team consisting of John Buchan and Gil Leindecker will end up with 5 percent of the overall, which works out to $21,600.00. 

Then there's the $72,000 in wahoo/dorado optionals to be split by teams Checkmate (day one) and Reina de Wahoo (day two). 

All told, $423,600.00 will end up getting handed out at the 2011 Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot. 

TEAM CABO MAGIC show off the 213 made them the winners of the 2011 Los Cabo Tuna Jackpot. They were not in any of the jackpots; but the catch will give them 80 percent of the $43,200 in the overall jackpot. Orville Henseler fought the fish on 60-pound test for over 4.5 hours while his wife, Cindy, looked on. 

FRIDAY NIGHT'S FIESTA catered Soloman's Landing was the perfect way to unwind after such and exciting weigh in. 


There were rumors of a 250 pounder that was caught before the scales opened at 2 p.m. But the fish over 200 ended up being just a rumor, and never showed up in front of the Wyndham. 

Rather it wasn't a cow yellowfin over 200 pounds that took top honors on day one, but a beautiful 198.1-pound yellowfin tuna for team 83 on the Angelina.

The Texas-based team headed by Anna Griffith along with husband Marty and son Evan Villarruel were in the $500 and $1000 jackpots. which gave them $14,200 and $21,600, respectively, for a one-day total of $35,800.

Here's a pic of team captain Anna Griffith along with her son, Evan Villaruel, who caught the 198.1, and his son, Huston.

WON Photos by Brandon Hayward

The always favorite Team Fisher Man finished fourth for the day with a 107.7, but the fish was the biggest in the $2000, $3000 and $5000 jackpots, which gave the team the respective $21,600, $24,800 and $33,600 day one jackpots in each division.

Proving that you just need one fish to win major bucks was Mark Callahan, who was one of six teams who entered the $10,000 jackpot. His 48-pound tuna on won him $36,000.

 The first fish weighed in was a 55.5-pound wahoo by Team Checkmate. It won $36,000.


The 7 a.m. shotgun start went off perfectly, as not a stitch of wind greeted the 107 boats that either headed up the Pacific side or shot up the Sea of Cortez.

Weigh in is still hours away, but the report so far is that about 80 percent of the field opted to fish the Pacific side. The buzz and the words at Wednesday night's captains' meeting was that the cows that long range boats caught last week were on, or near, the Finger Bank, which is a long haul, but still plenty doable.

There's still lots of fishing time left between now and lines out at 4 p.m. Look for another update tonight after day one's weigh in.

tuna getting carted

TUNA GETTING CARTED through the check in area late Wednesday afternoon piqued the excitement level.

the 7 a.m. shotgun start

THE 7 A.M SHOTGUN START had the bulk of the 107 teams vying for over $423,600 in cash up for grabs shooting up the Pacific side.


There's big bucks on the line, as check in brought with it 107 teams that threw down what works out to an incredible $423,6000 in cash in jackpot monies.

Now it's just a matter of seeing if it will be a Sea of Cortez bank like one of the Gordos or a spot of porpoise of even the long haul up to the Finger that will reward teams with a chunk of the huge prize pool.

Some big prizes in the forms of raffles already got doled out at Wednesday night's captains' meeting. Now it's just a matter of seeing what it takes to win the jackpots and the $69,600 that is on the line just for the optional wahoo/dorado jackpot that 87 of the 107 teams entered.

Look for more updates Thursday as fishing gets rolling...

the check in

THE CHECK IN area was a literal "party in the streets."



We are well over 100 teams and the final count will come, of course, today, when teams check in and we tabulate the totals for the final jackpots when final wire transfers from Tuesday have cleared. The staff spent all day Tuesday setting up the weigh-in sites and check-in sites at the marina and assembling the welcome bags for each angler, all 500 of them, and the 140 Captains bags, all filled with sponsors clothing, gifts, tournament flags and drawing tickets.

Check-in begins at 2 p.m. today on the malecon, then is followed by the Yo-Zuri Captains meetings at the massive outdoor theater just up the stairs from check-in at the new cultural center.

The wind is up today, but the fishing yesterday busted loose on the Pacific side at area now being scoured by the teams with top crews prefishing. The bite at the Gordo and Iman banks has been slow, but big fish have been caught over 200 pounds.


The field is at 97 teams as of Friday and will expand on Monday to over 100 teams with mail-in entries, and I expect a field of over 110 teams, but likely higher. We had 15 teams sign up in Cabo last year. We are ahead of where we were last year in projections of teams and money and have been for weeks, so that's pretty gratifying.

Cabo is in a full party and fishing mode and the weather is great and is expected to be good for the event. Last year the winds made life tough, but fishing was still great. How good will it be this year? It has already been one of the best in years for dorado and tuna, especially bigger fish. No purse seiners in sight, a few here and there, but no fleet, and "maybe they got the message," said one captain. "Stay the hell away for the tournament." Whatever the case, they are not around, and there are plenty of fish.

That's it for now on this update from the Wyndham Hotel. I could not have asked for a better prelude to the Tuna Jackpot......Pat McDonell, director

2011 Yamaha/WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Schedule*

Wednesday, Nov. 2: Check-in 2 -6 p.m. at malecon in front of Wyndham/Tesoro Hotel between Solomon’s Landing and Tony’s at entrance to cultural center. Avet/Calstar/Yo-Zuri Casting contest 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Yo-Zuri Captain's Meeting will be held at 900-seat outside cultural center amphitheatre. 6:30-7:45 p.m. Live band, nearby bars, video, rules, drawings.

Thursday, Nov. 3: Shotgun start 7 a.m. at the Cabo Arch; Gray's Taxidermy Weigh-in 2 p.m.-6 p.m. on malecon in front of Wyndam Cabo San Lucas Resort (Tesoro); lines out at 4 p.m., weigh-in ends at 6 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 4: Shotgun start at 7 a.m. the Cabo Arch; Weigh-in 2-6 p.m.; lines out at 4 p.m.; Costa/Reactor sit-down Fiesta dinner party from 8:30-9:30 p.m. at Wyndham/Tesoro malecon area used for weigh-in. Food served at 8:30, drawings to follow.

Saturday, Nov. 5: Yamaha Outboards Awards Dinner, Puerto Paraiso marina area; Catered by Ruth’s Chris steakhouse. bar opens at 5:30 p.m.; music starts at 6 p.m., dinner is ready at 6:30; awards begins at 7 p.m.

*Wristbands required at Fiesta and award dinner only: They will be for sale at all venues and events. $50 each. They do not include entry into drawings or include free team gifts.

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