Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

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Thursday, October 18, 2018
Costa: Much more than a Jackpot sponsor
Monday, November 05, 2018
Cow tuna on the porpoise

Countdown continues to Nov. 7-10

Let the Good Times Roll!






CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS – For the 20th year in a row Western Outdoor News is staging the biggest, baddest and best yellowfin tuna tournament found anywhere in the world and hundreds of anglers will fish hard and party harder and be rewarded with hundreds of thousands of $$$$$ in cash and prizes as teams from the United States, Canada and Mexico take to the abundant waters of the Pacific and Sea of Cortez Nov. 7-10.

Backed by a stellar list of longtime sponsors and featuring a seasoned team of officials headed up by Tournament Director Pat McDonell, the WON Cabo Tuna Jackpot has featured catches of huge yellowfin tuna, including two yellowfin over 300 pounds brought to the scales on the first day of last year’s event.

“We have had more than 100 teams signed up as of early October and traditionally we see a lot of late signups from local teams and U.S. boats that have come down for Cabo’s tournament season,” noted McDonell. “Last year our field of 147 boats was the most of any event during the fall and we’re hoping to top that.”

McDonell and WON Publisher Bob Twilegar have been the driving force behind the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot since they started the tournament with Kit McNear and Joe Higgins in 1999 to provide an alternative to Cabo’s marlin events.

And this 20th edition of the Tuna Jackpot should be epic. Will we have a second repeat winner or will another team break through to claim the championship?

Defending champions Team North Star on the Estrella del Norte will be back in 2018. Captain James Rosenwald, the only two-time winner of the Tuna Jackpot, will be joined by Don Whittier, builder and owner of the Estrella del Norte, who was on the team for the initial victory in 2012 with a 372-pound yellowfin tuna. Local captain Adrian Camacho of Pueblo La Playa is back from the 2017 team that weighed the 338-pound champion yellowfin.

Local tournament fishermen play a huge role in the Tuna Jackpot dating back to the initial 1999 event topped by a 218-pound tuna brought in by the team of Jaime Piño Arista, Miguel Angeles and Daniel Gallardo with Toño Arista Guallarte at the helm of his La Playita panga Estrella del Mar.

Overshadowed last year was another catch by locals, a monster 305-pound yellowfin on the Judy Judy that had the misfortune to follow the 338 pounder to the weigh scale. The fish was good for second overall for the team of Francisco Segovia, Gerardo Banaga and Jose Banaga, all of San Jose del Cabo. Squeezed out of the daily jackpot money by the bigger tuna, the team did win $7500 in second place overall jackpot money.

A total of $677, 300 was paid out in Tuna Jackpot and daily jackpot winnings in 2017, with most of that money coming from the daily payouts from the $500, $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000 tuna optional pots and the $1,000 daily pool for the biggest dorado or wahoo.

Another returning team to keep an eye on is the Reel Quest out of Newport Beach, which in 2016 used an “across the board” strategy of entering all the dailies and two days of excellent catches to post the Tuna Jackpot record cash payout of $331,950.

Entering the daily jackpots is the key to cashing in at the Tuna Jackpot, since the overall jackpot is heavily weighted toward the biggest tuna of the event. Several tuna and wahoo that were the biggest to show up at the scales for either day of the two fishing days went unrewarded when the team failed to enter even the $500 pot.

The basic entry fee of the WON Cabo Tuna Jackpot is $1000 and that gets you in the overall jackpot and admission for all four team members to the many events and parties that are the keystone of the event.

“Fish hard and party harder!” was the phrase coined early in the game by Tournament Director McDonell, who has gone out of his way to engage with the many returning competitors to discover ways to make the Tuna Jackpot more fun for anglers and their friends and family that attend to cheer them on.

Music, food, beverages, dancing and lots and lots of great swag from the sponsors highlight the Tuna Jackpot. The list of parties and events is a story in its own right, but of note is the Costa Start Boat Party dedicated completely to the supporters of the Tuna Jackpot’s great teams. Everyone has to get up early to board the Cabo Escape, the official start boat, but they are rewarded with mimosas and a hot breakfast buffet, a bird’s eye view of the shotgun start, music and dancing and, yes, a chance at free Costa sunglasses.

The best part is the proceeds from the event -- a $30 charitable donation is all it takes to get aboard -- go to

Calstar Rods and Accurate Reels are coming aboard as first-time sponsors of the Tuna Jackpot, joining longtime industry supporters such as Seaguar, Mustad, Gray Taxidermy, National Car Rental, Yo-Zuri, Terrafin, Baja Cantina, Fishworks and many more.

Not to be overlooked and a primary reason for the success of the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot are the great local businesses that support the event.

Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing and Captain Tony’s restaurant, Grace and Dale Cota of Dreammaker Charters and Gricelda’s Smokehouse, Minerva Smith of Minerva’s Tackle, Brian Solomon of Solomon’s restaurant, Baja Cantina and Wild Tours (Cabo Escape) and IGY Marina are major reasons the Tuna Jackpot has been going strong for 20 years.

Be sure to check out the complete sponsor story on the Tuna Jackpot Blog, which will be your go-to source for stories, photos and tournament updates during the tournament. Also look for news and updates on the WON and Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Facebook pages, including live feeds from the weigh scale.

The WON Tuna Jackpot tournament team looks forward to seeing everyone in Cabo!


Some reminders! 

-- Early Check-In Tuesday, Nov. 6 an option! If you are in need of a charter boat, check or listing at It worked well last year so we are doing it again! The Tuna Jackpot staff will be again conducting an early check-in on Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 1- to 4 p.m., in the Hotel Tesoro Convention Center corridor. All team members must be present to sign waivers (no exceptions) and you can ick up your packets, wristbands, drawing tickets and you can also buy wristbands for the dinners for guests ($40 each, our cost), pick up your hats, shirts, flags, and bags.


OFF THEY GO, at last year's 147-team flare gun start off the famous Arch.


-- Official Clothing and flags will be on sale as well. The three-hour early check-in Tuesday is only voluntary, so if you miss it because you are out fishing or team members are not in Cabo yet, don’t worry! Your team can just go to the regular check-in Wednesday on the malecon. See the schedule.

-- Be aware, teams at the early check-in will still have to come to the regular check-in Wednesday afternoon in front of the Tesoro to get your free sponsors swag and get pictures taken, and there is the welcome party with free tequila shots and important news on the event, drawings and a few rules changes.

-- “Also MEXICAN licenses will be available for sale at the regular check-in 1 to 6:30 p.m.” said Director Pat McDonell. “Be there! Again, the early check-in is optional, and the hope is that we get 20 or so teams to check in early to keep the lines small the following day. It worked well last year. Long lines in the sun are not fun."

-- At the early check-in teams can also purchase Grand Prize Drawing tickets at $5 or 5 tix for $20, also we will be selling tickets for each day of the Costa/Cabo Escape start boat parties (Thursday and Friday, 6 to 8 a.m.) at $30 each. Anyone can come on the catered Costa charter that leaves at 6 a.m. both start days from the IGY Fuel Dock on the Wild Tours’ luxury partyboat the Cabo Escape. The $30 daily fee includes breakfast and mimosas and coffee and entry into drawings for Costa sunglasses. All charter money goes to charity. By the way, Smiles doctors and medical personal and local volunteers are conducting their biannual Cabo clinic this week with 75 children, being operated on for cleft pallete deformities.

-- Official Clothing will be on sale at both the early check-in and the regular check-in. It will include 20th annual Cabo Tuna Jackpot commemorative hats and visors, (three styles), and long sleeve women’s and mens performance fabric shirts and flags.

Finally, the CTJ Facebook page will have updates and live feeds at various times during the event and leading up to it. So be sure to Like us. Go to for the link on the upper right, or go to this link.

Blogs will also be updated regularly at

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