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Tuesday, November 05, 2019
Time to Fish Hard, Party Harder

Monster yellowfin lands top spot at WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot
The Sirena team from San Jose del Cabo, La Playa brought in this year’s winning tuna at 345 pounds – the third largest ever weighed for the WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament in 21 years; next up in the tournament season is the Los Cabos Charterboat Classic, put on by the hotel association, Nov. 19-22.

CABO SAN LUCAS — Hundreds of anglers from across the globe came to Cabo this week to participate in the 21st annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot.

This year’s event, from Nov. 6-9, attracted some 154 teams with over one million dollars in prize money up for grabs. See Rich Holland’s report in this issue and at – and next week WON will have a full Cabo Tuna Jackpot Review supplement detailing the event.

Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet said, “The tournament proved to be one of the most exciting in its 21-year history.”

THE SIRENA TEAM celebrated on stage after winning this year’s Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament with a 345-pound cow.

Overall, there were about 30 yellowfin weighing over 100 pounds, and 12 of those were over 200 pounds. The winning tuna was a whopping 345-pound super cow – third biggest in the event’s history – caught early on day one by angler John Domanic aboard Sirena, crewed by an all-local team, the Castillo brothers, Gonzalo and Freddy from La Playita and John Michael Shibault from La Paz. There were eight money-winning teams, two of which won over $300,000.

Ehrenberg said of her fleet, “Pisces did well, with five of our boats hitting the dock with very decent fish. The Pisces’ 60-foot Reel Machine weighed a 249-pound yellowfin on day one that had no way of holding up to the winning fish, but if caught on day two it would have won! (First place on day two was a 248 pounder caught by Southern Comfort).”

Pisces’ Bill Collector 2 weighed in a tuna on day two as well, a 175 pounder caught on a lure at San Jaime. Impressively, anglers Josh Emmons, Katie and Robert Schad and Scott Solomon also had six dorado hit on Rapalas at San Jaime – and a wahoo of about 30 pounds, which they didn’t weigh, as the winning wahoo hit 47.1 pounds on this day.

Pisces’ Rebecca also did well — holding the lead in the dorado division of the tourney until the last 20 minutes or so, with a 20.8 pounder caught by longtime Pisces angler Fred Vandenborek and friends, the Timmers. Since no fish over the 30-pound mark were caught the first day, the monies were rolled over, and the weight limit was reduced to 15 pounds. The winning dorado weighed 21.7 pounds, caught by Team Outcast, and they took home $80,000.

In addition to the Tuna Jackpot, Ehrenberg said marlin fishing this week was still incredible, with crews focusing on fish right off the Old Lighthouse. The billfish releases totaled 229 – mostly striped marlin but also sailfish and a few blues. Apparently the marlin became a bit more difficult to catch off of the lighthouse, being “picky” eaters for the casted live bait that their boats targeted them with.

Also, according to Ehrenberg, with the fishing being so good and close by, the action and competition for marlin releases were both fierce, as there were around 80 to 100 boats fishing the area daily. Still, she said, the crews and anglers proved their worth, with up to 15 striped marlin released on the best days. Towards the end of the week, they saw the marlin thin out in this area, but the dorado quickly moved in. To close out the week, they caught 64 dorado on Nov. 9 alone – with a total of 204 fish caught for this week (respecting catch limits).

And in other catches, Ehrenberg said it was very nice to see some wahoo coming through – again between 30 and 40 pounds each – and even a nice 50 pounder caught on Pisces’ Bill Collector 2.

The best baits this week were mackerel, caballito and ballyhoo bait, cedar plugs and feathers (in lime green, petrolero and guacamayo).

Pisces also had their 4th Annual Satellite tagging study on striped marlin with GrayFishTag Research. A total of 31 striped marlin were caught, tagged and released between all boats, with another 30 marlin spotted and/or raised at least, fishing right off of the Old Lighthouse.

“There were close to 30 people participating in these efforts who traveled from all over the world to be here… people with the same interests and love for sustainable fishing,” said Ehrenberg. There were participants from Mexico, USA, Costa Rica and as far as Papa New Guinea, as well as some awesome players in the fishing world like Captain Dave Marciano of Hard Merchandise from the TV Show Wicked Tuna.

More details on the fleet and catches can be found at

WAHOO WERE ON the prowl this week out of San Jose del Cabo for the Gordo Banks Fleet.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported another busy week in Cabo because of the tournament, though not necessarily for tuna fishing.

He said, “Through the past week, the action for tuna (which was previously found on San Luis Bank) came to a standstill. Only later in the week were a handful of free-feeding yellowfin even spotted. The tuna found during the two-day WON event were outside of Cabo San Lucas and on the Pacific grounds – nothing found on the Gordo Banks.”

Brictson said the highlight this week was actually the wahoo found north near Vinorama. Most of the fish landed were on slow-trolled baits (mainly on caballito, since chihuil are now hard to obtain). Apparently the number of wahoo was limited, but they were more common than dorado, tuna or any other game fish. Most wahoo were in the 20- to 35-pound class – with their largest weighing in at 43 pounds.

Bottom action was limited, with more triggerfish than anything else, and billfish action was more toward the Pacific, but they did see a handful of striped marlin and one blue marlin out of San Jose del Cabo.

Inshore, there were good numbers of small roosterfish taken and, with sardinas being scarcer, they did not see more than a few sierra.

The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 140 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 2 blue marlin, 6 striped marlin, 13 dorado, 1 yellowfin tuna, 43 wahoo, 6 yellow snapper, 8 barred pargo, 1 bigeye jack, 1 amberjack, 4 leopard grouper, 12 Mexican bonito, 8 yellow snapper, 2 sierra, 32 roosterfish and 35 triggerfish.

ROGER THOMPSON, FISHING the south side of Cerralvo Island across from Las Arenas in La Paz, caught this tuna on 40-pound test. He said he has caught bigger tuna, but few that were this scrappy! He was embarrassed to admit this fish took about four hours to put in the boat. “It pulled the panga,” he told us.

GARY WAGNER, WHO owns the Giggling Marlin Bar in Cabo San Lucas, was staying near Las Arenas this week. He knew he had a battle on his hands when he switched down to 25-pound test fluorocarbon and this big yellowfin tuna bit the line. He was on the fish for more than three and a half hours!

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International in La Paz reported some blustery days, but also some nice ones this week. “The problem was,” he said, “no one was fishing!”

“While the snowbirds have started to descend on La Paz to enjoy the sunshine, the off-season has started and not many people are fishing because of the unpredictable winds,” he said.

However, Roldan did say they had some folks out, and on the days it wasn’t bumpy and windy there were some fish to be caught.

“Most surprising were the big tuna hung on the south side of Cerralvo Island,” he said. “Go figure. Everyone leaves and the big tuna show up! These were pretty beastly animals. They ranged from 60 to 100 pounds and there weren’t many of them, but the ones that did bite would only eat light line, which is incredibly problematic when you are using 25 to 40-pound line and a powerful tuna crunches your bait. These fish required three to four hours of backbreaking battles to get them to the boats!”

For other species, Roldan reported that there’s still some decent dorado around running 10 to 15 pounds or so — not a lot, but enough to keep it interesting. “Mix in some bonito, jack crevalle, a few pargo and snapper and the occasional little roosterfish and it could be a fun day.”

LORETO — Rick Hill at reported blowing winds again this week, “with three days of bouncing wet fishing and not a lot to show for the pain.”

However, he said things turned around later in the week, and they saw some great weather, along with the biggest action for the yellowtail's cousin, the toro.

Apparently the cabrilla, pargo and firecracker action rounded out the fishing, with much of the bite north of Coronado Island. And it’s still “easy pickin's” on smaller dorado, with a few 20-pound fish hiding below the crowd. “Getting a sardina past the hungry tots has been the trick,” said Hill.

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