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Can you afford to compete in the Jackpot?

For $2500 a person, a 4-man team can be in the thick of the fun and competition, so get a team ready for Nov. 1-4

You ever wonder why the You Tube video and slide show on the Cabo Tuna Jackpot on the official website has a lot of smiling people in it? Because it's a great time every year at the richest and biggest tuna jackpot tourney in the world.

PEOPLE FROM all walks of life and economic levels come to compete, fish and party in Cabo, and the tourney is designed to allow teams to participate at basic levels. Boats from 60-foot Viking super sportfshers to 22-foot pangas win money each year. The key is to have a game plan, some skill, pre-fish and have a little luck too. PHOTO BY DANNY MATTHEWS

This year, the tournament makes its 19th run at being the “most fun tournament in Cabo.” We hear that description every year. Every year there are always a few people who tell staff it was on their "bucket list" to finally enter and try to win. If not to win, experience the thrill of a shotgun start with 140 or more boats surging from the blocks. Bucket list, indeed. This year, after having a dramatic rise in participation with 168 teams in 2016, up from 143 teams in 2015, projects are that we will be over 170 teams and likely giving away more than $800,000. That is our goal.

So you’ve been thinking about going, asking a few friends, fishing, maybe going early and prefishing, doing some partying at the clubs or asking another couple to give it a shot and have some laughs.

There are teams that come once, to try it, and don’t return, but most come back at least another year, and there are several teams who come 15, 16, and even 17 years out of the 18 years it has been held since 1999.

This article is all about putting it on paper, the real costs you will have …to go, compete, destroy some brain cells, pull on big tuna, and get tan while back home it's snowing, and what the hell, maybe win a hundred grand? Or two?

Let's break it down, what it really costs to be in the 2017 Tuna Tournament.

You have to factor in airfare, hotel, boat charter, entry fee, food, tips, and live with optional costs being the obvious: Optional jackpots, bigger boat, partying, bringing a family member or significant other, rental car, high-end sportfisher, etc. and partying. That's right, we already mentioned that.

At its most basic, after everything is factored in, the real costs of entering the Tuna Tournament and being in one or two lower-end optionals for a four-man team is less than $3,000 a person. More like $2,800.

Breaking it down:

-- Airfare is $450-$500, which is even less than in previous recession years. It's far less if you depart from Tijuana and use the bridge, but Spirit Airlines offers $250-$300 flights from San Diego on certain days. But it’s usually $400, in that realm.

-- So, at the bottom end, a boat charter is $700-$1,000 a day, so $500 is your share over two days for a four man team. That's a starting point, but a basic 20 knot, 28 footer with a Mexican captain puts you in the running no matter what. Be aware: Most charterboats for tournaments are 30 to 50 percent higher than their normal daily charter fee due to more time, more tackle prep, longer hours fuel costs and wear and tear on diesels. It's the captain and crew and your ability, too. Super pangas have great captains, and expect to pay $600 at the most. They have some incentive, too, as a charter captain gets 10 percent of all winnings.

-- Hotel: Two rooms, $140 a night with breakfast at the Tesoro. Real cost per person is $70 a day, 5 nights, $350, including taxes.
-- Entry fee: $225 a person, your share of the $1,000 for a 4-man team.
-- $1,000 dorado/wahoo optional ($500 a day) and $500 tuna optional ($250 each day) for those two optionals, $400 is your share.
-- Food? You have to eat anyway, but you get free buffet breakfasts and two dinners from us with the hotel and your entry. You can eat cheap in Cabo, or dine at 5-star spots.
-- Just for the hell of it, rent a car at National (our official rental car agency and they offer special tourney prices through the Cabo website) for $$200. For that, $50 is your share.
-- Tips: $100 for two days is your share.
-- Bait: $50 is your share.
-- Food over 5 days. (Up to you)

That's pretty much it. The total per person (Each person's costs or their share of team costs):
$400 airfare
$500 for the share of the charter boat
$340 for five days at Tesoro (double occupancy)
$225 entry fee
$400 for two optionals ($500Tuna and $1,000 wahoo/dorado)
$50 for bait
$100 for tips
$60 for National rental car
$400 for misc (food, etc)
Total $2,475

Compare: A trip and flight to Alaska is $3,000 for three days fishing. $2,500 to El Salto for bass fishing, $2,000 for any trip to the East Cape with two days fishing.

When you come to Cabo and bask in the sunshine and tequila and nightlife, you don't just have dinner and go to bed after a day of offshore fishing. We test your endurance for fun and competitive fishing. You have a chance to win $160,000 at that level of entry and option, you get a ton of free gifts (hat, bag, t-shirts, Mustad hooks, Yo-Zuri lures, Seaguar fluorocarbon, Costa hats and shirts) three parties with prize drawings, two dinners, several contests (Guess The Fish weight, sticker, best dressed), a special catered charter for non anglers on the second day's start boat Cabo Escape, two weigh-ins and two shotgun starts that will get your heart pumping. Guaranteed.

And there is the charity aspect. This past year, we raised about $43,000 for for facial surgeries of Mexican children. Every cent goes to the surgeries. Now, as we like to say, are not a charity event, but we and our sponsors make it fun to contribute at any level.

So, get a boat, bring a boat, borrow a boat, don't steal a boat, though. Cabo is safe, you can party or just relax and drink a beer or margarita with your buddies by the pool and smoke cigars and relax. Your call, your tournament. It's your chance to win money, get on the cover of Western Outdoor News and and (and the full page ad in the IGFA Record Book).

$2500? It's not cheap, but it's not a Cruise down the Rhine with the wife for $14,000, either. Get a team together, and while fishing hard and partying harder, make some history at the biggest, richest tuna tournament in the world.