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New year, new formats, same great time!

WON Cabo Tuna Jackpot gears up for 19th event

Special to Western Outdoor News

CABO SAN LUCAS -- Every year tournament director Pat McDonell tries to find ways to make each WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot better than the year before and the year before that, all despite the fact previous events have had record breaking payouts, catches and numbers of competitors.

A few reminders...

- The roster is being updated every few weeks at Check the roster before requesting a team number to see if someone has claimed your preferred choices. 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. $100 deposit or $1,000 entry. No optionals can be paid by credit card. Send entry by email (scan) or fax. See below for #.

- 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 Done.

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

This year he has come up with an early check-in party (yes, another party), a longer window for the regular check-in, a later start to the daily weigh-ins and more prizes and more contests to keep everyone involved in the fun.

A lot of tropical water has slipped under the hulls of gleaming sportfishers since Pat, Kit McNear and Joe Higgins convinced WON publisher Bob Twilegar to go all in on a tuna tournament in fabled Cabo San Lucas. In 1999 it drew 112 teams.

Now, 19 years later, the WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot is going stronger than ever, and is now the biggest, richest tuna tournament in the world.

"It's been 19 years since we all started this and every year has been different," said McDonell. "We've seen our economy tank and followed that up with the most teams ever, we've seen most of the money won by a single team and we've seen the times when the money is split between many teams.

"We've seen Team Buckeye from Ohio catch the first tuna over 300 pounds (318) in the tournament and we've seen a local team catch a 383-pound tuna, our biggest yet," he added. "We've had hurricanes and we've been blessed with incredible fishing like in 2012, when the 5 tuna from 251 to 372 pounds were just the tip top of a total of 12 over 200.

"One thing teams can count on when they come to Cabo for the Tuna Jackpot is winning prizes, having a great time, and, if they get lucky, they have a bit of skill and their captains do, too, they can score BIG!"

THE COSTA CHARITY charter on Friday has been expanded to include Thursday morning’s start boat, the Cabo Escape. Drawings for sunglasses, drinks, food and a free hats for the $30 fee that goes to for children’s facial surgeries.

Here are some 2017 highlights:

An early check-in has been combined with Tuesday's Staff and Sponsor Halloween Party held by the marlin sculpture between Capt. Tony's and Solomon's. The first 50 teams to show up with all their team members present to sign waivers, etc. will get a sign-in priority number between 1 and 50. Then all they have to do is join one of the costume parties at the adjacent restaurants while they wait to check-in. and get their drawing tickets, wristbands and team flag.

Once they do that, they can show up the next day at the regular team check-in and without waiting in line can pick up their swag at the tables, enter the contests such as the Kingfishjer Guess The Winning Fish Weight Contest, Best Dressed, Sticker Contest, and visit the various sponsors booths for more free swag.

COSTA HATS among other items will be sold for charity at check-in and given out on the Costa charity charters Thursday and Friday mornings.

The Baja Cantina Girls will be on hand for photos and video footage at the Gray Taxidermy Weigh Scale, and you can buy $10,000 Grand Raffle Charity Tickets ($5, or 5 for $20) and the Costa Charter tickets ($30) for either or both Cabo Escape charity charters (6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday, open to all guests. All proceeds from the two Costa catered charters for the flare gun starts go to There will also be a booth for official event clothing sales for men and women, and extra team flags will be on sale or $20 in addition to the one you fly on your sportfisher.

BRING YOUR FISH to the Gray Taxidermy Scales for photos. Your catch can be donated to a local church for distribution in the poor colonias, or you can have it processed at Gricelda’s Smokehouse.

The regular check-in hours have been extended to the time frame from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We added the early check-in and party as a way to have some more fun, and hang with the teams and keep the check-in lines shorter for the next day,” said McDonell. “Normally the staff and sponsors have their own party that same time, but a Halloween party sounded fun, with a band and the Marlin Sculpture area sandwiched between two bars and two costume contests at Solomon’s and Tony’s restaurants. Anyone can come and visit (a bar and BBQ set up by Tony’s will be cranking) but I think 50 teams will be all we can handle over three hours. We just need all team members present to sign waivers. There can be no roster changes for those early check-ins. We will handle those the next day.”

TEAMS CHECK IN to the start boat, usually adorned with their team name and a nod to Costa for prizes. This year five pair of glasses go the winning Show Me Your Costas team, but for 2017 Costa added three more pairs for second place and two pairs to the third place.

Another schedule change is that the Gray Taxidermy scale weigh station in front of the Tesoro Hotel won't open until 3 p.m. while the traditional lines-out deadline remains 4 p.m. Boats that are within the inner IGY marina before 6 p.m. (and are confirmed by video as having made it at 6 p.m. sharp) will be allowed to weigh eligible fish.

Also, in another schedule change adding to the fun, the Start Boat Party on the Cabo Escape party yacht benefitting Smiles International has been extended to two days and WON's Chuck Buhagiar said that Dave Bulthuis will be giving away lots of Costa sunglasses. Both charters are catered, with fruit, breads, breakfast burritos, coffee, mimosas and champagne. There will lots of free Costa hats.

WEIGH-IN is where you find out if you are in the money, and tell your story of success before a huge crowd at the IGY marina. At right is Tourney Director and emcee Pat McDonell.

Finally, the Fiesta at Baja Cantina’s downtown restaurant Maria Corona has been moved from Friday to Thursday night and is a buffet Mexican dinner with sponsors drawings, slide show of the previous events (check-ins, start, weigh-in that day) contests, and foklicoro music.

Tournament festivities like the Fiesta are ongoing and include contests such as the Show Us Your Costas! Contest, the Fishworks/Baja Cantina Best Dressed/Logo contest, the Terrafin/National Car Rental Sticker contest, the Kingfisher Guess the Winning Fish Weight contest, the $10,000 Grand Prize Charity Drawing, and the Awards Dinner Charity Silent Auction. The start boat charters, Minerva’s clothing sales, auctions and grand prize drawing all benefit

THE FREE GIFTS this year include the embroidered Baja Cantina-sponsored cooler, which is perfect for fishing or family outings.

It's not too late to enter. It costs $250 a person for a four-person team. This is the event that is affordable and the most fun, a great way to extend your fishing season and really make a fishing trip to Cabo a special one. Email or call (949) 366-0030 ext. 26. For complete details on the 2017 event, go to, and "like" us on our Facebook page.