California Boating Card


Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

Contests, contests, contests! 2017 Tuna Jackpot Schedule

Contests, boy do we have contests at the Western Outdoor News Cabo Tuna Jackpot!

Here's the lowdown:

-- The Kingfisher Guess The Winning Fish Weight Contest. The winner gets a trip for two worth $4,000 to Kingfisher Lodge in Alaska. Announced Saturday. Another Kingfisher trip for two will be auctioned off for charity. Saturday night.

-- The Fishworks/Baja Cantina Best Dressed/Logo Contest: team wins free meals at BC in 2018, and a $125 Fishworks Clothing gift certificate for every member of the team. Announced Thursday night.

-- $10,000 Grand Prize Charity Drawing: Four of everything the sponsors have provided (Plano tackle boxes, Tesoro certificates, Okuma rods and reels, Mustad hooks, Seaguar leader, and more.

-- The Terafin/National Sticker Contest. The boys have a tuna sticker for you to put up around town. If their crew in town spot it, you win prizes, including a rental car package from National.

-- Show Us Your Costas! At boat checks before the starts, we see the most creative …Dave Bultheis of Costa picks the winning team that gets 5 pairs of sunglasses. Second and third place get 3 and two pair of glasses, respectively. Awarded Saturday night.

-- Awards dinner Charity Silent Auction. More great deals for you to bid on, all donated by sponsors and local Cabo vendors. All benefit

There's still time to sign up! For signup questions, call Lori at (949) 366-0827. For tourney questions, email Tournament Director Pat McDonell at

Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

Yellowfin, bluefin, dorado, yellowtail and marlin remain on late October menu!
As we head into the late part of October anglers still have lots of options to choose from on the offshore fishing grounds. Anglers are still able to target a variety of species that include bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail, skipjack and striped marlin. There is some rough weather offshore today on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 with Small Craft Advisories being posted but prior to today's weather change there was still a lot of 69 to 70 degree water around to hold these warm water species in our local offshore waters. Anglers are hoping that these warm water temperatures will survive this current stretch of bad weather and continue to hold these warm water fish in our local offshore waters.

Click on the image to get the best saltwater reports daily at

San Clemente Island remains the best zone for a chance at a big bluefin tuna. There have been some large tuna to 150+ pounds biting for boats fishing the region of the 86 Fathom Spot and in the area to the south and the southwest of the 86 Fathom Spot. In closer to the Island, there have been what are mostly 25 to 35 pound bluefin mixed with some 15- to 20-pound yellowtail that have been biting for boats fishing outside of Lost Point, at Desperation Reef and at the ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove.

Rough and sloppy weather conditions during the past few days have effected the fishing effort for the bigger bluefin by the 86 Fathom Spot with a lot of Skippers spending more time fishing the spots that are in closer to the Island at Desperation Reef and off Pyramid Cove where they can at times be fishing in better weather conditions than what might be found further off the Island in the area of the 86 Fathom Spot.

When the weather allows, there has been good fishing for large yellowtail out at the Tanner Bank. Most of the yellows have been jumbo sized fish that are in the 25- to 35-pound range. Yo-yoed iron has been working well for the yellowtail with some action also found on sardines and mackerel. Private boater Tom Golding of the Last Buck fished out at the Tanner Bank last Saturday and reported that the 3 anglers aboard caught 11 yellowtail which were all over 25 pounds. Their best action was found on dorado color Sumo 6X yo-yo jigs while fishing in 130 feet of water to the north of the high spot at the Tanner Bank.

There has been a chance at scratching out a yellowfin tuna at some of the banks in the Catalina and San Clemente Island regions. Areas that have produced an occasional flurry of action have been at spots such as the Mackerel Bank, the 277 Spot, the 267 Spot, the 209 Spot and the 312 Spot. Generally speaking, the action in these areas has for the most part been slow.

The better yellowfin tuna fishing has been in the San Diego and Ensenada regions for boats fishing offshore banks such as the 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank, 425 Bank, 475 Knuckle, Upper Hidden Bank, 385 Spot, 238 Spot and the 415 Spot. The yellowfin bite has become more hit or miss in recent days but there is still a chance at finding a stop that will go wide open and produce limits of yellowfin tuna.

The yellowfin have been running to as big as 60 pounds with most falling within the 8- to 14-pound range. Yellowfin stops have been coming from kelp paddies, blind trolling strikes, trolling strikes around porpoise, sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breezing fish. There have been some dorado, skipjack and yellowtail biting in some of the same areas where the yellowfin tuna are biting.

A report from Thursday's fishing from private boater Mike Seymour of the Sea Section demonstrates the hit or miss nature of some of the more recent yellowfin fishing at the banks outside of and below the Coronado Islands. Seymour fished the 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank, Upper Hidden Bank, 425 Bank and 101 Spot. He reported finding the fishing to be slow except for some good numbers of skipjack that were biting for them while fishing outside of the 224 Spot and some good numbers of big bonito that were biting for them at the 101 Spot. Aside from catching skipjack and bonito the most excitement they had was seeing a free swimming marlin that came up jumping near the boat while they were fishing a kelp paddie above the 371 Bank.

Throughout the day Seymour was keeping in contact with his friend, Captain Mike Long of the charter yacht Bubba Jean of Bubba Jean Sportfishing who did find one of the kelp paddies with biting yellowfin tuna while fishing between the 302 Spot and the 371 Bank at 24 miles 211 degrees from Point Loma. Seymour said that that the report from Long was that they hooked about a dozen yellowfin in the stop and boated 3. Seymour said that he ran to the kelp paddie and gave it a try only to find that the bite had shut off by the time he got there.

Private boater Jeff Petit of the O-Strike reported fishing aboard his friend Joe Monaco's boat Tunacious on Tuesday. He said they left Mission Bay at around 11 a.m. and that it was not long until they found a kelp paddie that produced a wide open bite that produced Mexican limits of dorado and 1 yellowtail. They found this hot kelp paddie bite while fishing about 3 miles outside of the lower part of the 9 Mile Bank at 13 miles 225 degrees from Point Loma.

Petite said they continued on out to the 224 Spot at 22 miles 232 degrees from Point Loma where there were about 7 boats drifting and catching yellowfin tuna. He said there was no kelp paddie where the boats were drifting and that they just shut down and started drifting and chumming and had very good fishing for yellowfin tuna and skipjack. He said they caught near limits of yellowfin tuna and that they released most of the skipjack they caught. His report was that several boats in the area that were there before they arrived caught their full limits of yellowfin tuna.

The yellowfin were mostly 8- to 10-pound fish but included some larger fish to 20 pounds. The water in the area was running 69 to 70 degrees and was clean. Size 2/0 hooks were reported to be working well with the sardines they picked up at Mission Bay on Tuesday morning.

Captain Jimmy of the Condor out of Fisherman's Landing reported being out on a 1.5 day trip that on Thursday and having the 20 anglers aboard catch 37 yellowfin tuna, 17 yellowtail and 2 dorado. He said they found their action while fishing offshore areas below and outside of Ensenada that were around the Inner Bank area and below. He said they were finding action in a variety of ways that included kelp paddies, blind trolling strikes and fishing around porpoise.

During the past few days, the fishing around the Inner Bank area and below has been providing better consistency than the bite at some of the banks more local to San Diego located below and outside of the Coronado Islands. Productive areas around the Inner Bank area and below have been while working the regions of the 385 Spot, 238 Spot and 415 Spot.

Striped marlin fishing has been rather quiet during the week with very few boats out looking. The Catalina area has been the best with last weekend and the early part of this week seeing some pretty good marlin action found by boats fishing spots above the West End of the Island such as the 125 Spot, 172 Spot and 175 Spot. Several marlin were caught and released from these areas last weekend.

The eastern part of Catalina saw some scattered marlin activity last weekend but has been rather quiet during the week. Areas where there has been occasional marlin activity include the Avalon Bank, the Slide, the 152 Spot, the ridge area outside of Church Rock and the 277 Spot.

There have been very few marlin seen during the week in the San Diego region. The most recent sightings have been at the La Jolla Canyon and 1.5 miles above the 371 Bank.

The fishing at the Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowtail, bonito, calico bass and barracuda. The Rockpile was the hot spot early in the week but on Thursday, the best bite areas were the South Kelp and the 5 Minute Kelp that are located below South Island. Other productive areas have been the north end of South Island, the Middle Grounds and the weather side of the south end of North Island.

The bluefin tuna have been 18- to 35-pound fish, the yellowtail have been in the 10- to 20-pound range and most of the bonito have been in the 4- to 9-pound range. Sportboats often do best while sitting on the anchor and private boaters have been doing best by slow trolling with nose hooked sardines.

Sportboat counts from Thursday's fishing start with the Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing that had a 3/4 day trip with 25 anglers catch 12 bluefin tuna, 55 bonito, 1 sculpin, 18 calico bass, 60 yellowtail and 1 lingcod. The Liberty out of Fisherman's Landing had a 3/4 day trip with 30 anglers catch 16 yellowtail, 10 calico bass, 30 bonito, 7 bluefin tuna and 5 barracuda.

Private boater Craig Boegler of the Gooey Duck fished at the Rockpile on Tuesday and returned with a catch that included 9 yellowtail and 2 bluefin tuna. He said their catch of yellowtail included some large fish that went to 30 pounds. Boegler has been doing well while fishing the Coronados during the past couple of weeks and has had his best luck on slow trolled sardines.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been providing good fishing for a mixed bag of calico bass, rockfish, bonito and yellowtail. Thursday saw good fishing for bonito and a few yellowtail that were biting for boats fishing outside of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. The kelp bed areas at Point Loma such as the Dropoff, the Green Tank and Point Loma College have been productive for a mix of calico bass, rockfish, bonito and an occasional yellowtail.

The upper end of La Jolla has been productive for a mix of rockfish, bonito, calico bass and an occasional yellowtail and kelp bed areas off Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre have been producing a mix of calico bass, bonito, assorted bottom fish and an occasional yellowtail.

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It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where significant catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at . Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.

Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

Enter WON Tuna Jackpot NOW!
Extend your fishing season in beautiful Cabo San Lucas at the biggest tuna tourney in the world, made just for you

GET IN ON THE FUN at the 19th annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament with three parties, two shotgun starts, two charity charters, two excitingweigh-ins, drawings, fun contests and free gifts. Look, you don’t need a yacht to compete. There are dozens of charterboats available  manned by top Mexican crews if you don’t have a boat lined up. GARY GRAHAM PHOTOS

CABO SAN LUCAS – Several teams have called an emailed and asked if it is too late to enter the 19th annual Western Outdoor News Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot. The answer is YES!

There is still time to enter and get in on the fun at Lands End Nov. 1-4. The basic entry fee is $1,000 for a team of 1 to 4 anglers, and that puts you into the event, all the parties, you get all the gifts (hat, soft cooler, Costa event shirt) and you are competing for about $75,000 if you catch the biggest tuna over two days. 

If you enter as a team in the dorado/wahoo optional for another $1,000, the biggest wahoo or dorado EACH DAY earns the team over $60,000. That’s $120,000 over two days. Then there are the $500 to $10,000 tuna optionals, all containing about the same amount of money. 

There are nightly drawings, and contests to liven up the four days. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s in Cabo. If you can’t have fun in Cabo, then we suggest you knock down a few shots of tequila and come to your senses! 

This is the time of year when some charterboats become available because some teams unfortunately face unforeseen family or work situations. For example, Minerva Tackle and Sportfishing Charters recently had two cancellations and has saved the boats for Tuna Jackpot teams. Minerva can be contacted at 1(888) 480-7826, or through email at

It’s easy to get more details online. The website provides all the basics you need in a simple format. Read it while drinking tequila and it will become clearer about why you and some friends need to enter this tourney. The roster is updated every few weeks at at the same website.   

There are three ways to enter, or reserve a number:

-- The most simple: Send a check to: Cabo Tuna Jackpot, Western Outdoor Publications, 901 Calle Amanecer, Suite 300, San Clemente, CA 92672. Make out the check to Western Outdoors. Download the entry form on this website and mail the check and entry form to that address. A fully filled out entry is not needed. Make sure you indicate the team number you want to request on the form or on the check.
-- You can sign up by credit card for the $1,000 team entry. No optionals can be paid by credit card. Send entry by email (scan) or fax. See below for the number.
-- Wire the money. Please request wiring instructions from and fill out an entry as best you can and fax it to 949) 366-0804 or scan or photograph it and send to  

For signup questions, call Lori at (949) 366-0827. For tourney questions, call Tournament Director Pat McDonell at (949) 366-0256 or email him at

Grady Istre – FIELD DOGS

Getting ready for waterfowl
Most duck and goose hunters take their sport seriously, and they are passionate about every aspect of preparation and execution. They purchase special blinds, buy expensive decoys and, of course, only the finest shotguns will do. However, too many of these intense sportsmen are not well schooled on the particular details of hunting waterfowl with a dog. Often, they take way too much for granted.

It’s surprising how few hunters seem to inform themselves about specific capabilities and limitations of their dogs in the water. For example, dogs need to be protected from themselves: they simply don’t know their own limits and will pursue their prey doing what­ever it takes to get a downed bird — in some cases to the detriment of their health and well being. For example, in spite of what you might think, dogs do get cold — especially our Southern California dogs without an undercoat to protect them. It takes at least one season in a very cool climate for Mother Nature to provide a dog with a decent undercoat. Also, I don’t like to hunt a dog in cold weather without giving him a moderate breakfast at least an hour and a half before the hunt. I bring treats along just to keep his glucose up, so he does not go into shock.

Then there’s the issue of sunken blinds. I feel that I should warn those hunters who use these blinds about the very real dangers they present. Dogs get excited when ducks are falling into the decoys and they can jump in front of the gun. When you’re hunting out of a sunken blind you’re on the dog’s level, and if he jumps out in front of you he’s going to get shot. And that’s the sad story no hunter ever wants to tell.

When a dog is hunting upland game, he’s using his muscles and that keeps him warm. Hunting ducks is a different matter. Getting a dog wet, then having him sit for hours without using his muscles can become a problem, but that’s what we expect of our duck dogs. That’s why a neoprene vest becomes a great asset for most duck dogs. Common sense and awareness of your dog’s comfort is the key.

Years ago, I had a hunter call me wanting to rent a retriever to take to North Dakota on a duck hunt, I told him I do not rent out my dogs. He became quite agitated and he asked, “why?” I explained that I didn’t like to take risks with my dogs. Now the man’s not only agitated, he’s insulted.

I asked, “Are you a skilled dog handler?”

“I’ve hunted over dogs,” he replied.

I then asked, “Have you ever taken a Southern California dog with no undercoat to hunt ducks in single-digit temperatures? Do you know what to do if my dog goes into shock?”

“Well, I guess you warm him up,” he suggested.

“No,” I replied. “You abandon your hunt and take him to the vet! This is just one of the reasons I do not rent my dogs.”

I’m sure this guy could tell that I was getting a little agitated, because he hung up. There was no way I will send off one of my dogs with the person who had not worked with me and been made aware of all the risks involved. I make sure that clients who work with me are well schooled about the needs of their dogs and the necessity for using due diligence. As a result, I believe my experienced clients are very attentive to their dogs.

But there are still hunters who have had bad experiences. As one old-timer told me many years ago, “I’ve never hunted ducks over a dog that he didn’t ruin the hunt.”

How unfortunate for this fellow, as he will never know the joy of hunting over a well-trained dog. Take the time to think about the details of the hunt and how they impact your dog, fellow hunters — It’s difficult to ever forgive yourself if you make a mistake and injure your dog because you’re not properly schooled.

Good hunting.

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Grady’s column appears in WON every other week and he can be reached at

Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

Woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’
Over the past decade, it has occurred to me that WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot’s core attraction is not particularly the fishing, the place, or even the parties that are at the root of its remarkable popularity.


AS TEAMS, MANY many in their team uniforms ranging from t-shirts with serious, humorous and in some cases risqué team names emblazoned on the backs. Photo by Gary Graham

DURING THE FOUR-DAY event there are various drawings and contests allowing team members to win in many different ways. Photo by Gary Graham

Rather it’s the teams themselves that have become so wrapped up in an infectious camaraderie that they transcend the intense competition. Some, wearing the number of years they have participated included in their logo as their badge of honor — making it a validation of sorts -- and attesting to the fact that they belong to the fraternity of teams that has grown to the largest turnout ever, 168 teams in 2016.

Oct. 31 – Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Marlin Sculpture: After that huge turn-out, a pre-registration has been offered to the first 50 teams who have no roster changes allowing them to avoid the long line of Wednesday afternoon’s registration. Those teams can pre-check in if all their anglers are present to fill out their waivers – (no exceptions) ! They will receive angler packets and team flags only. Swag will be handed out at regular check in on Wednesday.

Of course, since it just happens to be Halloween, the tournament committee couldn’t resist the opportunity to add an additional party. So, if you have nothing else to do on Halloween night you can meet the staff in a casual setting with a live band, no-host BBQ party, held between Capt. Tony's and Solomon's Landing restaurants/bars.

Nov. 1 Wednesday afternoon: Registration 1 to 6:30 p.m.beneath a welcome Baja sun there is always a festive affair setting the tone for the event. As teams, many in their team uniforms ranging from t-shirts with serious, humorous and in some cases risqué team names emblazoned on the backs, move though the line past staff who are finalizing registration and passing out WON swag, then on to the sponsors booths where they receive sponsors’ products. Old friendships are renewed and new friendships are established as the music blares in the background.

The fun begins and the real world is left behind as registration is followed by the Yo-Zuri Welcome Party with tequila shots, free gifts, miscellaneous announcements, announcement of optional amounts, video showing, and drawings begin at 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., Cultural Center Outdoor Amphitheater.

Nov. 2 – Thursday: Costa Shotgun start 7 a.m. at the Cabo Arch. (Start boat is the Cabo Escape leaving IGY fuel dock at 6 a.m.) For $30 each day, the start boat, the Cabo Escape, offers the Costa Charity Party on behalf of . There is catered food and drink, including mimosas. A great way for the Team’s family and friends to see the flare gun start before dancing and partying, in the name of charity, prior to returning to the IGY Harbor. Charity raffle tickets for both days’ start boat will be available at the Costa booth from Dave and Amy Bulthuis on Wednesday at check-in.

Gray Taxidermy Weigh-in 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday. Lines out at 4 p.m. Weigh-in ends at 6 p.m. or when all eligible fish are weighed.

Baja Cantina's Thursday night Fiesta at Maria Corona Restaurant in downtown Cabo. Doors and bar opens and music starts at 7:30 p.m. Mexican buffet dinner and Folklorico entertainment begins at 8 p.m. and at 8:30 staff begins announcements of day's results plus sponsors' drawings.

Nov. 4 – Saturday: Cabo Tuna Jackpot Awards Dinner, on Cruise Line Pier. Bar opens at 5:30 p.m. Mariachi music starts at 6 p.m., and dinner is ready at 6:30. Guess the Fish Contest, Silent Auction, Live Auction, and all sponsors tackle drawings begin at 6:30 p.m. -- awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m.


GRAY TAXIDERMY WEIGH-IN 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday. Lines out at 4 p.m. Weigh-in ends at 6 p.m. or when all eligible fish are weighed. Photo by Gary Graham

For the uninitiated who have never participated in a Los Cabos Tournament, this event continues to be fine-tuned year after year under the watchful eye of Pat McDonell, Tournament Director, and his staff, to ensure that the “Fish Hard, Party Harder” promise is not overwhelmed by the intense, two-day competition.

Of all the tournaments held in Baja Sur, this is by far one of the most user-friendly. If you and your buddies or family are looking for a soft entry into the world of “Big Fish/Big Money” tournaments, this is a great place to start without breaking the bank … if you get my drift.

Don’t be one of those “woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’” folks who hesitates and misses the time of their lives.

For more info:

SHOW US YOUR COSTAS! At boat checks, before the shotgun starts, we see the most creative. Photo by Gary Graham

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