Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

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Thursday, November 01, 2012
The best big-tuna bite ever in Cabo?
Saturday, August 24, 2013
200 pound tuna roll in

2012 Coverage


North Star team on  Estrella Del Norte  lays claim  to $233,540 and the title of Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot  Tournament champion in the best two-days of cow tuna fishing ever recorded in Cabo.




CABO SAN LUCAS --   What can you say about this year’s Cabo Tuna Jackpot that gives it justice for its ramifications.  The tourney, held over four days in Cabo San Lucas saw its field of entrants return with so many cow tuna  in two days of  that it could be said that Cabo witnessed it’s greatest two days of big tuna fishing ever.


Certainly it was the best fishing ever for the 14 years the Cabo Tuna Jackpot  has been held.  There was one  tuna over 300 pounds, 11 over 200 pounds and more than 25 over 100 pounds brought to the scales.


The size of the fish was not the only thing that grew this year. We had 108 teams last year, but this year we had a field of 121. We offered $438,000 in price money in 2011. This year it was $564,000. 


The fishing over two flat glass days on the banks was topped by  Team 40, North Star, on the Estrella Del Norte, made up of James Rosenwald, David Luhitta, Carlos Beltram and Edward Beltram,  which nearly broke the tournament record for fish and single tournament winnings by bringing to the Gray’s Taxidermy scale  a 372-pound yellowfin on the second day before a huge crowd.


 That monster fish, second only to Team Fisherman’s 383-pound fish three years ago, earned them all but one of the daily optionals  on day two and also took 85 percent of the overall money.


When you total it all  up, they won  $233,540.


Here’s the quickie version  but full details will be published in a few days in WON and with a 16-page special supplement in the newspaper with more than 100 photos and four stories. There is also a You Tube video being created by Bedouin Productions of Cabo and will be ready in a few weeks with links to it from the website.




The top teams results, basics


Team 29, Team Peligro,  caught a 262 pounds yellowfin tuna on day 2 and placed third overall and wion $2,420.  Their team is made up of Alex Romans of Greenfield CA, Paul Anthony of Bradley Calif. Wyatt Duncan of King City, and Nic Azoona of King City.


Team 68, Maybe Manana, made up of Brad Stevenson of Glenview, Bob Stevenson of Lake Havasu and William Lewis of Eugene Oregon caught a 221-pound yellowfin on the first day to win the $10,000 optional for $36,000 and followed that up the next day with a 97.7-pound yellowfin , the last weigh-in of the day that filled that category, In total, they won $72,000.


Team 82 on the Baja Bait, made of John Silva of Westchester CA and Michael Chad Lynch made 4 tenths of a pound could for a big payday yesterday, catching a 30.4-pound wahoo to lay claim to both days of the Wahoo/Dorado optional for a total of $79,200.


Team 60 on the Santana, weighed in a 224-pound tuna and win the day 1 $2,000 and $5,000 optionals to lay claim to $92,000. The team is made up of Jesse Santana of Riverside, Sean Nerenburg of Beumont, CA and Augustino  Pino of San Joe Del Cabo, whose team won this event in 1999 14 years ago on the Estrella Del Mar.


Team 89 Renegade Mike, made up of Kyle Kramer and Matt Heckler of Spring Valley CA, Joe Dicicco of Bellbrook Ohio, and Capt. Mike Tumbeiro weighed in the first day’s biggest fish of 266 pounds to place second overall for $4,890 and won the Day 1 $500, $1000 and $3,000 optionals for a total of $95,290.


Team 40, North Star, on the Estrella Del Norte, made up of James Rosenwald, David Luhitta, Carlos Beltram and Edward Beltram,  nearly broke the tournament record for fish and single tournament winnings by bringing to the Gray’s Taxidermy scale  a 372-pound yellowfin on the second day before a huge crowd. That monster fish, second only to Team Fisherman’s 383-pound fish three years ago, earned them all but one of the daily optionals  on day two and also took 85 percent of the overall money.


When you total it all  up, the Estrella Del Norte team  took home  $233,540 and the title of Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot  Champion  for 2012.  The North Star team members received  four Reactor watches engraved, four handcarved circle hook trophies, and a certificate for a mounts for Grays Taxidermy and a custom Cigar Box filled with the finest Cabo Cigar Company cigars wrapped in the Cabo Tuna Jackpot logo.


THE WEIGH-IN WAS A MADHOUSE, especially the second day when the 372 pounder was weighed in by weighmaster Mike Packard.


 Mucho dinero!

Tonight at 6:30 the awards ceremony and another raffle (man, there are a lot of raffles!) gets kicked off, with the final party and all the big check--literally, the big huge ones that really are not worth anything--getting handed out. 

Here's a sneak peak at the payout, and why WON's Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot is the richest tuna tournament in the world. WARNING: it's off the Excel doc, and not formatted, but you'll get the gist of why this is a close-to-home event any hardcore SoCal guys should fish in! THE BOLD shows the totals for each team, and the event. 

Team Team Name Boat Anglers Weight Award Amount
29 Peligro " " Alex Romans, Greenfield CA 262.0 3rd Place Overall 262
TOTAL: $2,420
Paul Anthony, Bradley CA
Wyatt Duncan, King City CA
Nic Azoona, King City CA
68 Maybe Manana Maybe Manana Brad Stevenson, Glenview IL 221.0 Day 1 $10,000 $36,000
Bob Stevenson, Lake Havasu AZ 97.7 Day 2 $10,000 $ 36,000
William Lewis, Eugene OR
TOTAL: $72,000

82 Baja Bait John Silva, Westchester CA 30.4 Day 1-2 $1000 WD TOTAL: $79,200
Michael Chad Lynch (Roll over, days one and two Wahoo, and Dorado)
60 Santana Santana Jesse Santana, Riverside CA 224.0 Day 1 $2,000 $ 36,000
Sean Nerenburg, Beaumont CA Day 1 $5,000 $ 56,000
Augustin Pino T
TOTAL: $92,000
89 Renegade Mike Kyle Kramer, Spring Valley OH 266.0 2nd Place Overall $ 4,840
Matt Heckler, Spring Valley OH Day 1 $500 $ 14,400
Joe Dicicco, Bellbrook OH Day 1 $1,000 $ 30,400
Miguel Tumbeiro Day 1 $3,000 $ 45,600
TOTAL: $95,240
40 North Star Estrella del Norte James Rosenwald, MN 372.0 1st Place Overall $ 41,140
Donald Luhittia Day 2 $500 $ 14,400
Carlos Beltram Day 2 $1,000 $ 30,400
Eduardo Beltram Day 2 $2,000 $ 36,000
Day 2 $3,000 $ 45,600
Day 2 $5,000 $ 56,000
TOTAL: $223,540


SATURDAY: The morning after ... 

Six over 200 and a 372 pounder to take it all? Ijole!

We hear "the best ever" a lot. But director Pat McDonell said that this year's event ramped up to the point where day one was the best ever, so far as big fish over 150 and 200 go, and day two was even better, producing a last dash of cows that, incredibly, included a 251 on the Renegade Mike (yes, the same team that won the lion's share the day one money) followed by a 262 by Team Peligro that made for the sixth over 200 for day two, and an incredible 11 yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds for the event. 

Maybe Manana made it two days in row for the $10,000 optional win, while the local Dirty Boyz team headed up by Felipe Sumaja slow trolled up a wahoo that just broke the 30-pound minimum and won them nearly $80,000 for the 30.4-pound skin. It was the only contender for the wahoo/dorado optional that was the biggest optional for day two, thanks to rollover money from the tournament day prior. 

Tonight is the awards ceremony. In the meantime, here's a look at the 372 caught by Edwardo Beltran (with the rod and reel in his hands) on the Estrella del Mar along with Carlos Beltran and James Rosenwald heading towards the crowd. 

A 372 takes Day two, overall jackpot for $221,800 payday!

The scales just closed, and it's all over, except for the fiesta; here's a quick look at the 372-pound Gordo Bank monster that Edward Beltran scored on the Estrella del Norte with team mates Carlos Beltran and James Rosenwald. 

It took the $500 to $5,000 optionals .... 


$79,200 USD

That's what the wahoo/dorado optional is worth today after yesterday's rollover; catch one one of these, or a wahoo, bigger than 30 pounds, and the price-per-pound is sky high, higher than any of the individual daily tuna optionals. No wahoo came to the scales yesterday, and the biggest dorado weighed in was this 19.9 pounder. 

But as yesterday proved, catching a quality dorado or decent wahoo might be easier said than done when tuna are the targets?

Will teams alter plans and look for something floating, or drag big swimming plugs over the high spots today? 

We'll see this afternoon!


THE FIRST 200-PLUS-POUND yellowfin of the 2012 Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot caught by team Halcon got strung up by WON Baja Editor Jonathan Roldan while Tournament Director Pat McDonell told the crowd how the $564,400 in cash would get divided up amongst the overall and optionals. The fish went 227 pounds and could have won the $2,000, $5,000 and $10,000 options, had the team been in those side pots. Welcome to the Tuna Jackpot, where the optionals mean that the biggest fish isn't always going to take all the loot ... 

No matter the outcome, the Gordo banks—as in Inner and Outer—were really going to have their work cut out of them yesterday. They were going to have to live up the hype, to the killer reports leading up to the 2012 installment of the WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot. And the banks were going to have to hold up to the pressure, a lot of pressure, parking lot-style pressure. 

Or would it not even be the sure-to-be crowded Gordos, but rather the Jaime or Golden Gate or that Finger Bank that would kick out the winner, or winners? Maybe even a spot of open-water, between banks porpoise that anything from the 22-foot panga to the 90-foot bordering on mega yacht fishing in this year event had a shot at finding? 

Who knows? Those really are the two words that sum up this tournament that was built on the “Fish hard, party harder” brand. The event’s first year in 1999 had the inaugural event won on a panga, Estrella del Mar. Last year the biggest of bucks were won a big yacht, True, while a cruiser called Cabo Magic took Orville and Cindy Hesler to the tuna that was the biggest of the tournament, but yielded one of the smaller paydays due to not being in the optionals. The “What happens in Cabo…” saying is a popular one. But is the Cabo Tuna Jackpot, and “Anything can happen” is the tournament’s unofficial fishing slogan.  

And they started happening quick—the any things, AKA any team can catch a qualifying fish and win the thing —this year, with just one-hour into the tournament weigh in bringing a 165.6 pounder to the scale. The scales opened at 2 p.m., lines out are at 4 p.m. and all boat coming in to weigh fish must be into the inner harbor but 6 p.m., but the four person team made up of Dean Macaluso, David Cleveland, Kemp Ipsen and Troy Cornelious on the El Torito hit the scales a little early. They were asking for beer as soon as they hit the dock, so maybe it was ripping through all the cervezas that sent them to the dock in front of the Wyndham the earliest of all the competitors. It was right around 3 p.m., and the good-grade yellowfin gave them a taste of the lead. 

It was just a matter of if it would hold for minutes or hours. 

Reports were that of tougher fishing in the days leading up to the event. Good fishing. Real good fishing. But not the incredible cow fishing on the Gordo Banks of the weeks prior that some even went so far as to call “wide open,” when the marlin set literally had to drive away from the Gordo or use 400-pound test leader with their slot troll baits to spook the cows off the skipjacks fished at the end of the prop washes. 

By now it was heading out of the last quarter of the moon, and the fishing was more of a pick, said recent reports. But the big fish were still on the Gordo, that’s why the morning’s shotgun start from the host hotel’s catamaran Cabo Escape, brought with it around 100 boats heading up the Sea of Cortez with starting on the Gordo. 

The scale in front of the Wyndham had the crowd slowly build and build, with plenty of onlookers already assembled with plenty of daylight to go as team 33 headed up by John Penny showed up to the scales with what went on to be a149.9-pound tuna caught from a Parker center console. 

And then came the first cow—as in 200 plus pound yellowfin—of the event. At least it looked every bit of 215 to 225. The Halcon with skipper Enrique Wiekler came backing in with what would go on to be a 227 pounder, tag teamed by the team made up of San Diegans John and Jerry Weiter along with Randy Makua. A literal last week entry, the team saw the coverage in WON and decided to bite the bullet and enter, booking the boat through the Red Rum fleet. They entered the $500 optional to go with the $1,000 wahoo/dorado optional, which meant the $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000 optionals were still in the running for any cows to come. 

Tracy Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet told Tournament Director Pat McDonell that there was a good fish on it’s weigh in, and McDonell’s “Tracy just told me there is a huge fish coming in,” got everyone primed to see what should take the overall. 

In between was a 166.4 by team Bad Medicine, which would put the team atop the $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 jackpots, but the $5,000 and $10,000 side pots were vacant as the 5 o’clock hour approached. 

Only one dorado had been weighed in for the optional, and at only 18 pounds it was way light of the 30-pound minimum for wahoo and dorado in the combined optional. That’s why the Pacifico and Tecate that last year’s winners, Oroville and Cindy Hessler were sipping on tasted a little off. They missed on the tuna, but did catch an estimated 45-pound dorado. But they didn’t enter the optional dorado/wahoo pot. This coming from an Oroville who said last year, “We left a lot of money on the table,” after their tuna, which was the biggest of the event, won the overall but none of the big side pots, making them the smallest winner, money wise, for the biggest fish. 

That’s how the tournament works with the big and small money side pots to go with the relatively cheap $700 entry fee that puts teams in the overall: no, you don’t have to catch the biggest fish to be the biggest winner. 

Past winners “Team Buckeye Tuna” who won the event with a 318 pounder in 2006 came in with a 159.3 pounder next, saying they also lost a good one; the 159.3 was enough to get them to sit in the lead in the $5,000 optional (fast forward: until Maybe Manana came in with what would be cow number three of the event).  Tales of loses and misses were pretty rife—John Penny, on the second team to check in said they lost a 250 to 300 pounder—but that’s big tuna fishing. 

Big gear and big guns are what it takes to put it all together, and when the Renegade Mike and Dingo II came pulling in simultaneously with bent butt stand up rods and big reels it drew the attention of the crowd. As did the massive tail being held up for dockside pictures by Renegade Mike crew members Fernando Castro and Christian Balderas. 

From the malecon it looked like one of the 300 plus pounders that were sure to come to the scales given all the hype, but in the end the scale stopped at 266 for the team on the Renegade Mike that simply shortened their team name to Renegade. 

Short on details, exact details with one day still to fish, they did tell McDonell they were on the Gordo—which seemed to be everyone’s answer. Anglers Matt Heckler, Kyle Kramer and Joe DiCicco were pumped on the catch, as was boat owner Mike Tumbeiro and his captains, Fernando Castro and Christian Balderas. 

The pictures and paparazzi session bled out a little longer than usual—somehow a women and Chihuahua entered the fold to get her picture taken with her iPhone?—but eventually Dingo II’s fish made it to the scale, stopping and prompting weigh master Mike Packard to say “192” to the crowd and Jonathon Roldan, who was also on scale duties. 

The renegades were in the $500, $1,000 and $3,000 optionals, but not the $2,000 in between, do the local Dingo II team headed up by Juan Barracas got to hold down the $2,000 slot which was worth an impressive $36,000. 

If Renegade could hold on, it would take down $130,000 in day one money. By now it was 5:15 p.m., Cabo time, and with 45 minutes to go until the scales closed the $10,000 option was still wide open to any tuna over the 30 pound minimum. 

And then came the across-the-board Maybe Manana, headed up by team captain Brad Stevenson. The “only” had to beat the 159 pounder to score the $5,000 side pot and the 190-pound-class fish on the Dingo II to sit on the $2,000 leader board. With a weight of 221 pounds, the fish was enough to get them on top for the $2,000 and $10,000 optionals, which were both worth $36,000. 

A beautifully proportioned 241 hit the scales for team Reina de Wahoo, which won the wahoo/dorado optionals last year, and was wishing they had a skinny or a flathead to weigh in, since the 241 wasn’t enough to put then in lead, not on top of the smaller side pots. 

An almost across-the-board, save for the 10K, Team Hammer Time came in with a 164 that they went on to donate to the local church. 

By now 10 fish over 150 pounds had hit the scales, and McDonell kept the crowd going saying that this year’s event is up over $100,000 in prize money from 2011, and that it’s pretty incredible how 99 of the 121 teams had entered the wahoo/dorado optional, but there had yet to be qualifier checked in. 

Even if the minimum had been dropped to 20 pounds there still wouldn’t had been a qualifier, as nothing over 19.9 pounds would come to the scale as time ticked down. 

But one more cow would, in the form of 224 pounder on the Santana that gave them the $2,000 and $5,000 optionals. 

With five minutes to go there were five cows on the leadboard, and three of them were going to end up splitting up the $258,000 up for grabs on if no other big fish were to come in before the scales closed at 6 p.m. …

No more tuna, and no qualifying wahoo or dorado came to the scales, and day two would bring with it the insane realization that the $39,600 wahoo and dorado optional would roll over to day two, meaning that somewhere there was a wahoo or dorado worth $39,600 x 2 swimming around, creating a day two that had the biggest side pot not for the targeting tuna, but for the “bycatch.” 

Hey, we said anything can, or could, happen … 


2012 Cabo Tuna Jackpot, Day One

Here's the fish to beat tomorrow, the 266 caught on the Renegade Mike. The where, why and how of it all really doesn't matter right now, as nobody is giving up any dope besides "Gordo."

Weighmaster Mike Packard, far left, sneaks a peak at the 266 that got Ana the Corona girl to pose with Matt Heckler, Kyle Kramer, Joe DiCicco, "Renegade" Captain Mike Tumbeiro (standing on stool) Cindy from EAT ME Lures, Captain Fernando Castro and Captain Christian Balderas, kneeling.

The fish was worth $130,000 for the team, while Team Santana's 224 pounder took down $92,000. Here (below) are the yacht guys' fish, that harvested the $2,000 and $5,000 optionals, being strung up by WON Baja Editor Jonathan Roldan. Yeah, they are pretty happy that Team Renegade wasn't in those pots, although teams 113 and 47--which had bigger fish at 241 and 227 pounds, respectively--would have won the $2,000, $5,000, and not team Santana, had they got in.

Maybe Manana?

Pretty perfect two words; the same as the $10,00 optional winners' team and boat name. Brad Stevens' team is always bringing in contenders, so it was great to see them get a piece of the prize.

On an aside, there were no wahoo or dorado weighed in today for the collective species' side pot, so that "little" optional has ballooned up to $78,000. And if no dorado or wahoo over the mark get weighed in--doubtful, expect some to target the skinnies and the flats tomorrow--the money simply rolls over to the tuna overall.

And why don't more teams just say to hell with tuna and focus on finding something floating for big dorado and wahoo? The optional really has become a tournament within a tournament. 

The money at stake, overall, is more over $100,000 richer than last year, coming in at $564,400 with 12 more teams than the 2011 edition, bringing the total to 120. 

Until tomorrow... 


"Alright folks, day one is officially over!" Words that came from Tournament/Editorial Director Pat McDonell 35 minutes before typing this, after 5 tuna over 200 pounds had hit the scale and three teams got their slices of the pie.

Big fish honors and taking down the $500, $1,000 and $3,000 jackpots to go with the day one overall was team Renegade on the Renegade Mike, headed up by boat owner Mike Tumbeiro and Captain Christian Balderas and their 266-pound yellowfin tuna. Team Santana is going to win the $2,000 and $5,000 optionals with their 224 while the across-the-board Maybe Manana's 221 is going to win the $10,000 optional that had 9 teams enter. In between were 241 and 227 pounders that were not in the $2,000, $5,000 and/or $10,000 optionals.

Just a quick, ten-minutes of typing and scrolling through paperwork write up on who the big winners were, for now. Look for pics and details to follow. Look at the payout schedule below to do the quick math on who won what of the $564,400 prize pool.

Oh, and the wahoo/dorado optional? No qualifying dorado over 30 pounds came to the scale--the biggest was 19 pounds--and no wahoo hit the scales. So tomorrow there's a big $78,000 payout thanks to rollover money from today.


The scales are set to open in a little less than an hour, although most will take advantage of the 4 p.m. lines out and the scale not closing until 6 p.m. to get in every last minute of fishing time for day one here in Cabo.

Here's how the summary of the jackpots for what ended up being 121 teams.

Jackpot Summary

Number of Boats: 121
Number of Anglers: 408

Overall Big Tuna:
121 Entries, Total Payout:$48,400.00

$500 Daily Jackpot:
72Entries, Total Payout:$28,800.00Daily Payout:$14,400.00

$1000 Daily Jackpot:
76Entries, Total Payout:$60,800.00Daily Payout:$30,400.00

$2000 Daily Jackpot:
45Entries, Total Payout:$72,000.00Daily Payout:$36,000.00

$3000 Daily Jackpot:
38Entries, Total Payout:$91,200.00Daily Payout:$45,600.00

$5000 Daily Jackpot:
28Entries, Total Payout:$112,000.00Daily Payout:$56,000.00

$10000 Daily Jackpot:
9Entries, Total Payout:$72,000.00Daily Payout:$36,000.00

$1000 Daily Wahoo/Dorado Jackpot:
99Entries, Total Payout:$79,200.00Daily Payout:$39,600.00
So, if you catch the biggest fish and you are in ALL SEVEN daily jackpots your daily payout will be ... $258,000.00


It was a red sky this morning as what ended up being 120 teams for this year's tournament got ready for the shotgun start.

Heading up into the Sea of Cortez and towards the Gordo was what around 100 of the teams went for; it didn't make for the rad, Land's End backdrop, but watching the bulk of the fleet head towards the promise land showed how incredibly good the fishing around the Gordo has been.

Look for an update tonight after the day one scales close at 6 p.m.


Director Pat McDonell just announced that 119 teams are signed up for this year's event in between the steady clip of check ins and participants getting their goodies with the band Dos Huevos playing in the background. Oh, and big fish for this non-tournament day was a 250 plus.

It's the backstories that make the check in, um, amusing, and one of the best came from a New Jersey team headed up by Tom Kayhart and Tom Rinbos.

"You know this bar on the corner here," said more than slightly inebriated Kayhart.

"Yeah, well they said if we fill the bar up this morning we can eat and drink for free the next four days," added the bloodshot eyed, I-am-so-glad-I'm-not-in Joysey, New Jersey resident. Yes, they filled the bar, and yes they have found their 2012 watering hole.

Then they got to take their pic with Ana, the Corona girl. Their buds that are passed out back in the room are missing all the fun! Good thing it's just starting!


There is kind of a kind of calm before the storm feeling around the check-in, weigh-in area here at the Wyndham. Fast forward a few hours and the 100 plus teams (108, unofficially the morning after election day) will start checking in this afternoon, getting the schwag and spiel for what promises to be an exciting tournament.

The cows have been biting on the Gordo, in case you haven't heard...


Airport bars, $6 plane beers, shuttle and taxi rides with stops to get road sodas, checking ins, dinners at Solomon's Landing with the best drinks in the marina, oh and some talk of tuna and what really is the best fall big fish action this century above Land's End highlighted the day for most of the 108 teams that are getting settled into Cabo for this year's Jackpot.

Tomorrow is when things really kick off, with the check in and all the festivities that kick up the psych. Can the fishing live up to the hype?

In the meantime, the stage is set in front of the Wyndham; somewhere in Cabo, there are teams who are going to end up on this board and take down big bucks...
luck is defined, by some, as when opportunity and preparation meet; insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And this really is a tournament where a little luck and insanity can be good things.... be ready for the opportunity when it presents, come down year after year and, eventually, everyone gets their shot at a check!

Good luck to all!

My name is Brandon, and I'll be your blogger this Tuna Jackpot

Reader Comments
Let the games begin! Wooooo hoooo!
Scott Throop
GOOD LUCK to sportfisher "TRAUMA" and Larry Wilson Tight lines, Paul Caronna
Paul Caronna
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