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135 teams converge at Baja's tip, with Dick Landfield's Reel Quest taking the title
in the final weigh-in won $242,960 of the $542,000 awarded to seven teams

TEAM 62, REEL QUEST with Dick Landfield of Fairway Ford; Bob Smith of Cabo San Lucas and Minerva's Tackle; and Bill Savage of Las Vegas and Henry Arres of Temecula arrived at the scale just a few minutes before the 6 p.m. closing with 192-pound yellowfin on a Yummy Flyer bait using a kite. WON PHOTO BY GARY GRAHAM

WON Staff Writer

CABO SAN LUCAS -- Reflecting the maturity the past 15 years have provided, a remarkable number of teams converged on Cabo San Lucas last week for the Western Outdoor News/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament, arriving from as far away as Japan to pit their skills against one of the toughest fish on the planet – legendary huge yellowfin tuna, often referred to as "cows" by the anglers who seek them.

THE CHAMPS UNLOAD their 192.4-pound yellowfin in the last minutes of the weigh-in on Friday. PHOTO BY JUDY PASSERELLO

After a busy day of registration, tournament director Pat McDonell welcomed the large group that filled the open-air amphitheater section of the new cultural center during the Team Meeting.

"Welcome and thanks to all of you for being part of the largest sportfishing event in Baja Sur in terms of the number of teams attending. Because of your strong support, the total amount of cash in this year's jackpot is over a half a million dollars... $542,000, to be exact," he revealed, drawing a loud round of applause from the excited participants.

As the 135 boats idled nearby the luxurious party yacht, Cabo Escape the following morning, checking in and showing their Costas, (and hoping to win new ones), staff and spectators shared the electric anticipation of all the teams. Flares soared toward the heavens and the boats, from the smallest pangas to the hugest sportfishers, roared to life and sped across the horizon eager to win the jackpot.

TEAM 87, FAT FARMERS aboard Bob Marlin, proved it's not necessarily the largest fish that wins the money. WON PHOTO BY GARY GRAHAM

Thursday and Friday afternoons from 2-6 p.m., the weigh station in front of the Wyndham Hotel bustled with activity as WON staff, sponsors and spectators greeted teams with qualifying yellowfin tuna or wahoo and dorado, crowding around the scales as the fish were weighed and recorded.

Throughout the 4-day event, a series of contests, parties and raffles were held to raise the much-needed funds for local charities. With the support of teams, sponsors and locals who chipped in, more than $12,000 was raised, according to tournament director McDonell.

More than 600 anglers, guests and local dignitaries attended the lavish awards banquet catered on the mall at Puerto Paraiso by Ruth's Chris restaurant. After live entertainment, a video of the event and interspersed with more raffles, the winners of the $542,000 were announced.

AS THE 135 BOATS IDLED BY staff on the luxurious party yacht, Cabo Escape, they were checking in and showing their Costa sunglasses, hoping to win new ones from one of the event's many sponsors. WON PHOTO BY GARY GRAHAM

Team 62, Reel Quest with Dick Landfield of Fairway Ford in Placencia, CA; Bob Smith of Cabo San Lucas and Minerva's Tackle; Bill Savage of Las Vegas and Henry Arres of Temecula arrived at the scale just a few minutes before the 6 p.m. closing with a 192-pound yellowfin on a Yummy Flyer bait using a kite. They swept all six of the second day dailies plus the overall first place money amounting to $242,960.

Landfield's team did to the Andrea what was done to them two years ago, when they had the tuna title and serious money locked up only to lose in the last six minutes.

The remaining $249,400 was split among six teams. Taking 2nd Place was The Lone Stars of Richmond, Texas on the Andrea with a 172.6-pound yellowfin weighed in earlier in the day. That finish earned them $5,360.

AS THE FLARE SOARED TOWARD the heavens the boats from the smallest panga to huge sportfishers roared to life and they sped toward the horizon with team anxious to win part of the large jackpot. WON PHOTO BY GARY GRAHAM

Team 133, Reina de Wahoo, Robert Deeter, Ft. Bragg, Calif., 170.0-pound tuna, took 3rd Place overall $2,680.

Team 87, the Fat Farmers aboard Bob Marlin, with anglers Bart Scofield, Arbuckle, Calif.; Jim Campbell, Princeton, Calif.; a 85.7-pound YFT, on Day 1 capturing the $3-, $5-, and $10,000 dollar options for a cool $114,000.

First-time Team 13, Pillage, aboard El Diablo were Ron Bauer, La Conner, Wash.; Alan Kleiven, Sweet Home, Ore.; Connie Bauer, La Conner, Wash.; and Thomas Rux, Gilroy, Calif.; on Day 1 landed a 131.9-pound tuna, grabbing the $500, $1,000 and $2,000 jackpots for $83,400.

EVERY ANGLER got a fantastic tote bag from Pisces Sportfishing, a new sponsor this year but which has been involved in the event every year. Pictured is Marco Ehrenberg of Pisces, who competed in the tourney, too.

A 39.6-pound wahoo landed on the Cheers I by WIN-TEAM, Pamela Lorenz, Anaheim, Calif.; a longtime event sponsor and George Priest, Norco, Calif.; Patrick Smith, Huntington Beach, Calif.; a wahoo, on Day 2-$1000, Wahoo\Dorado, scored $46,800.

Team 124, Koi Sushi, Miguel Angeles, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Eduardo Guluarte, Jaime Pino, Raul Figueron, a 52.6-pound wahoo, Day 1-$1000, Wahoo\Dorado, $46,800.

Look for our full special report in next week's issue and full photos on the official website

THE CROWD AT THE Yamaha Awards dinner was attended by more than 600 people. PHOTO BY DANNY MATHEWS

THE CAMPS CELEBRATE their win on stage at the dinner. PHOTO BY DANNY MATHEWS

CABO CIGAR CO. sponsored the event once again and rolled custom Cabo Tuna Jackpot-wrapped cigars during the four days. They were a smokin' hot hit!

THE TEAM Big Katunas sign up at the check-in and prepare for the next day's fishing and four days of partying. PHOTO BY JUDY PASSERELLO.

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