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Cabo's giant yellowfin answer call of Tuna Jackpot


FROM ROCKET SHIPS like this speedster equipped with three Mercury Outboards to everything including gleaming yachts, giant power cats and single-engine pangas, the start of the Tuna Jackpot was festooned with sportfishers. WON PHOTO BY RICH HOLLAND

CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS - A monster 318-pound yellowfin tuna caught by a team from Ohio topped the Western Outdoor News/Mercury Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot while high rollers in the first-ever $10,000 daily failed to weigh in a qualifying fish over 40 pounds.

A total of 126 teams contributed to a record cash pool of $590,000 for the eighth annual event, but it was the record yellowfin tuna that stunned onlookers on the boardwalk in the corner of Cabo Marina fronted by Puerto Paraiso Mall.

Fishing on the Pisces Fleet charter boat Ni Modo, Jamie Greer, Dave Greer, Lance Gildner and Dave Dunton brought their giant tuna to the docks just as the sun set over the Pedregal.

"We pulled on this fish for four hours and then drank all the way back, we can't lift a thing," said team captain Jamie Greer when asked to pose for a photo in the boat.

IT TOOK A TEAM EFFORT for the anglers and crew on the Ni Modo to lift their 318-pound yellowfin tuna and pose for the camera. The fish earned $152,620 and 10 percent of the winnings went to the Pisces Fleet crew. WON PHOTO BY RICH HOLLAND

When the yellowfin was carted to the scales and weighed 318, the record was established for the biggest fish ever weighed in the Tuna Jackpot. Greer said another huge fish was lost after an hour and a half, but they made the most of the second chance when the monster slurped up a skipjack pinned to a 10/0 Super Mutu on 130-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.

The fish would end up being worth $152,620 after the $41,820 first place overall jackpot was added to the optional $500, $1000 and $2000 daily pots.

The catch on the Ni Modo wiped out a great catch on another Pisces Fleet boat. The team of Richard Barth, Bob Wilkinson, Gary Dalton and William Briske on the Gaviota X were actually at the dock waiting for the scales to open at 2 p.m. the first day when they weighed a 127.1-pound tuna taken on an Eat Me lure they won at the Signup Party the night before.

"We want to thank the Ni Modo team for not getting in the $3000 jackpot," said Greg Rifkin, captain of the Piranha team that earned $54,000 for a 75.1-pound yellowfin the first day.

Another record was set on day one when a 46.2-pound yellowfin landed by Vince McKinley, Scott Coffini and Ted Hooper somehow lasted through the day and earned the La Leona team $50,000 as the only qualifying fish weighed in the $5000. It was the smallest fish ever to take home cash in the Tuna Jackpot.

A TUNA JACKPOT RECORD was set by Lance Gildner, the crew of the Pisces Fleetís Ni Modo, Jamie Greer, Dave Greer and Dave Dunton when they boated this 318-pound yellowfin that ate a skipjack pinned to a 10/0 Owner Super Mutu and 130-pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon. WON PHOTO BY RICH HOLLAND

"I'm glad we didn't hook that 318 pounder," said McKinley.

Not a single team entered in the $10,000 daily managed to bring a fish to the scale on day one, meaning that jackpot rolled over and a total of $112,000 was on the line.

There were no boats waiting to weigh fish the second day of the tournament and in fact nothing came to the scales for a couple hours. But Mike Packard, radio control for the tourney, had already heard there were at least two big fish boated. Bob Hoose, on hand representing Berkley fishing line, got a cell phone call from the Eureka confirming that they had a solid fish in the 140 to 150-pound range aboard.

A quick check discovered the Eureka was only in the $5000 jackpot. That was not the case with the first boat to get to the dock with a big fish. The Turner's Outdoorsman team of Mark Lemons, Jose Antonio, Mark Lampson and skipper Gunnar Coffman on the 55-foot Viking Reel N' Deal were the first to reach the big fish area in the Sea of Cortez.

"We pulled up on a porpoise school that had birds on it," said Lampson. "We slid three baits back on it and hooked three fish. So it was chaos, since we only had three anglers and the skipper. We got a 100 pounder on the boat. One of the other fish pulled a lot of line off a 130, so we decided to cut off the other fish and 3 hours later landed this one."

THE TURNER OUTDOORSMAN team of Jose Antonio Olivo, Gunnar Coffman, Mark Lampson and Mark Lemons on the Reel ëN Deal took home the most cash in the Mercury Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot thanks to this 204-pound yellowfin worth $169,720. WON PHOTO BY RICH HOLLAND

The tuna was hoisted up on the scales and weighed 204 pounds, earning the Turner's Outdoorsman team top cash in the Tuna Jackpot with $169,720 for the $500, $1000, $2000 and $3000 pots. Back at the boat, the team showed how the shredded 200-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon a few feet above the 9/0 Super Mutu that held the bulito had held together despite constant contact with the tuna's sharp fins.

Small dorado were plentiful, but the only qualifying dorado or wahoo to come to the scales was a beauty, a 55.3-pound bull that earned local anglers Angel Carbajal, Ricardo Isreal Barrientos and Cerrado Corbojaz Avet reel/G. Loomis rod combos.

THE LINE STRETCHED down the street prior to the opening of the doors for the Mercury party at Cabo Wabo Friday night. WON PHOTO BY RICH HOLLAND

The Eureka team's estimate of their fish was accurate, as was their foresight in putting all their money in the $5000 pot. Mike Shrosbree, Richard Ruffini, Mike Arujo and Jay Richardella won $52,460 for their 140-pound yellowfin caught by Richardella on a grunt pinned to an Owner hook on 50-pound Berkley Hi-Test.

Time was about to run out and there was still no fish weighed in the $10,000 pot, but there was word that a boat entered across the board in the dailies was on the way in with several tuna. It turned out to be Mel and Judy Ostberg on the Cisco, but the biggest of the batch weighed only 35.8 pounds, so the money will be refunded according to the rules.

Still there was plenty of reason to party hearty at Mercury's Cabo Wabo shindig that night and not just for the winners. Free drinks, food, a live band and the second $60,000 batch of giveaways was handed out. Let's just say you're going to be seeing lots of new Costa del Mar sunglasses.

MERCURY TUNA JACKPOT contestants danced to the tunes of a live band at Cabo Wabo and walked

The highlight of the awards dinner the final night came when Tournament Director Pat McDonell auctioned off David Wirth's yellowfin tuna carved from a piece of live oak. The sculpture earned a record bid of $7000 for Los NiÒos del Capitan thanks to Mel and Judy Ostberg. A trip donated by Waterfall Resort earned another $5000 when Curt James stepped to the plate. A piece of jewelry provided by Minerva at Minerva's Tackle earned the most money for the charity, as Jamie Greer's team kicked in $5000, gave the piece back for another auction and Mark Austin bid $3000. In addition to cash donations, at least $21,000 was raised for the Cabo center that provides daycare for working mothers.

And of course there were lots of prizes and surprises, included an embroidered tournament duffel courtesy of Turner's Outdoorsman. Paul Michele had two special Yo-Zuri catalogs put on random tables and the bearers earned $1000 shopping sprees. Bruce Buckles of General Tire awarded three $2000 sets of tires in a row. The final giveaway was a trip for two to Waterfall Resort.

Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot
2006 Payouts Awards

Overall Winning Team: #25
Boat Name: Ni Modo
YFT: 318 lbs.
Anglers: Jamie Greer, Dave Greer, Lance Gildner, Dave Dunton
Bonus Side Jackpots won: ($500, $1,000, $2,000) Day #1
Overall winning: $41,820 (1st place) plus (side pots)
Total winnings: $152,620

Second Place Overall: #84
Boat Name: Reel N Deal
YFT: 204 lbs.
Anglers: Mark Lemons, Jose Antonio, Mark Lampson, Gunnar Coffman
Bonus Side Jackpots won: $164,800 Day #2 pots ($500, $1,000, $2,000, $3,000) winning $4,920 (2nd place) plus (side pots)
Total winnings: $169,720

Third Place Overall: #123
Boat Name: Eureka
YFT: 140.5 lbs.
Anglers: Mike, Shrosbree, Rich Ruffini, Mike Arujo, Jay Richardella
Bonus Side Jackpots won: $5,000 day #2
Overall winning: $2,460 (3rd place) plus (side pots)
Total winnings: $52,460

Notable Side Jackpots:
Team #101
Boat Name: Piranha
YFT: 75.1 lbs.
Anglers: Greg Rifkin, Bob Schard, Scot Fine, James Powelll
Bonus Side Jackpots won: Day #1 $3,000
Total winnings: $54,000

Notable Side Jackpots:
Team #21
Boat Name: La Leona
YFT: 46.2 lbs.
Anglers: Vince McKinley, Scott Coffini, Ted Hooper
Bonus Side Jackpots won: Day #1 $5,000
Total winnings: $50,000

Notable Side Jackpots:
Team #122
Boat Name: Spicey Tuna
Dorado: 55.3 lbs.
Anglers: Angel Carbajal, Ricardo Isreal Barrientos, Cerrado Corbojaz
Bonus Side Jackpots won: Dorado
Total winnings: Avet reels, G. Loomis rod combos