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Yes, we headed back to Cabo on Nov. 4-7, 2020

Director, Cabo Tuna Jackpot

ON DAY 1 a total of 7 tuna over 200 pounds (one 345 pounder) and 10 over 100 would get hoisted as the scales operated well into the dark. Those catches included the 185 pounder on the Tag Team by Dave and Nancy Marciano of Wicked Tuna TV fame, and hard to believe, it was their first yellowfin. They were a blast to have at the event! RICH HOLLAND PHOTOS

A lot can happen in a year, and it certainly has been a test for all of us, but I'm certain better times are ahead for us all. This is a time to appreciate life and celebrate it.

DIRECTOR PAT McDONELL, right, and Dale Hightower of Seaguar and Nomad lures got pretty excited about the flouro packs being given away for teams at check-in, in addition to Gamakatsu bags, shirts, hats and team flags.

We are set for another great year in Cabo, for the 22nd Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Nov. 4-7 which last year attracted 154 teams and paid out $1,016,700 to eight teams, including two teams that won over $300,000. Team Sirena was our champion with a first day with a 345 pounder and cashed in $420,0235, a record payout, and Team Southern Comfort pocketed $356,400 for its 248 pounder the second day.

There is nothing like the Tuna Jackpot, with great weather, four parties, the Cabo Escape charity Shotgun Start for friends and family, plus contests, drawings and two exciting weigh-ins at the IGY marina in front of the host hotel, the Tesoro.

SOME PEOPLE JUST know how to party and dress for success, and Team NorCal (No. 55) led the way last year. This year? Bring it on!

This is my 22nd year and it's obvious at the scale the fish are getting bigger; either that or we are getting better at catching and landing the bigger fish with heavier line through the use of kites and balloons. Last year when the dust settled from two days of weigh-ins, 10 yellowfin over 200 pounds had been weighed in, topped by a 345 pounder the first day, third biggest in the history of the event. One team, on the Outcast, snapped up $80,000 for catching a 21.4-pound dorado, and two teams, Pendejadas and the TNT Texans on the Spicy Tuna, each won $40,000 for their biggest wahoo each day.

There were a lot highlights, but one for me - and for others at the tournament - was the participation of Dave and Nancy Marciano of Wicked Tuna fame. Great show and Dave and Nancy are fantastic people, family people and great fun. They were part of the Pisces Tag team that landed a 185 pounder the first day. Hard to believe, it was their first yellowfin. After decades of bluefin fishing. They were a blast to have at the event! They are most certainly invited back.

THE RECORD PAYOUT for Team Sirena was among the highlights of the Saturday party at the Cruise Pier catered again by Solomon's Landing. Eight teams shared just over $1 million, also an event record. The 345-pound fish by Sirena at the Jaime Bank is the third biggest in the 21 years of the tourney.

Also this past year we raised $25,000 for charity, providing surgical support for Baja children through Going over the $1 million dollar mark for the first time, paying out to eight teams, having a 345-pound tuna take the title, and not having any major glitches besides some Cabo-typical power outages at parties in town, and no protests.

Those were all highlights and records. But the biggest moment came at the awards dinner when - after a power glitch - a Smiles International Foundation video (created during the clinic the previous week in Cabo on the iPhone of Executive Director Maribel) didn't leave too many dry eyes in the crowd. Every dollar goes to surgical supplies for the two annual clinics in Cabo, and these cleft pallet surgeries by volunteer medical personnel change lives.

BLASTING OFF were the 154 teams of the tourney, past the start boat Cabo Escape and the famed Cabo Arch. Pretty exciting stuff for everyone.

I've attended these clinics. I've met the parents and the children. I've seen the results, the commitment. It's why I consider my involvement of Smiles through the tournament one of the highlights of my 22 years with the tourney and we will be raising money with a silent auction, tickets for the Grand Raffle, and the Charity Charters on the start boat Cabo Escape, donated most generously by the top tour company in Cabo, Wild Tours.

There were some other big moments and this year we will have more, I promise. The people who come to compete and party ensure good times. The Friday Fiesta Gamakatsu Karaoke Contest was epic, with the boys from Texas bringing down the house. They came to party and we enjoyed their enthusiasm.

DIRECTOR PAT McDONELL savoring a fine Cabo Cigar Co. custom-wrapped Cabo Tuna Jackpot cigar at the end of the weigh-ins.

Some things in the competition worked out better than we hoped. I don't like to make too many changes year to year, making subtle and necessary improvements, but last year we separated the $1,000 wahoo and dorado optional into two $1,000 optionals. It seemed dorado rarely beat a wahoo. It was a smart move but… frankly, we wondered how many teams would enter them. Would teams skip the wahoo optional since it was less aligned with tuna methods, such as the use of wire leader? Nope, all fears were allayed when 80 teams entered both for a $160,000 payout to three teams. It was crazy with Team Outcast winning $80,000 when the first day's optional money flowed into the second day and we dropped the minimum from 30 pounds to 15. The winning fish was a 21.4 pounder.

THE TNT TEXAS BOYS came to have fun and won the Gamakatsu Karaoke Contest on Friday night at Maria Corona restaurant and received a tackle package of bags, hooks, and these custom outfits.

Last year we also instituted video requirements of the catches as they hit the deck. Not a complaint. Every team complied and we had some fantastic video. Team Sirena (I finally pronounced it correctly after many corrections by the crowd. It's “sir A na” the champs produced their own three-minute video they filmed from start to finish. You have to see it at under the video section. Spoiler alert: The first gaff was violently ripped out of the crewman's hands. You can see the power of the 345-pound fish.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP team of Sirena made all the right moves the first day with this 345-pound yellowfin that gave the boys a real tussle at the end, and it paid off with a title and a record single team payoff of $420,235.

So, I imagine there are concerns and questions about the tournament, and we have been answering them. We are holding the tourney. In 2012 when the town was devastated by Hurricane Odile we never wavered in our goal of hosting the tourney, no matter how many teams showed up. Same this year. It's time to have some fun, celebrate life and family and friends, and you can be sure a very safe Cabo San Lucas is ready to welcome us all back.

THE PARTY for non anglers was on the official start boiat Cabo Escape, of Wild Tours, and there were two of the charters 6 to 8 a.m., both benefitting Music, dancing, raffle drawings, food and open bar got things started as teams checked in with their numbers and were cheered on, then blew out of the starting gate.

Please join us. Go to for details and watch for updates on our Facebook page and at in our events section.

For any questions about the tournament signup procedure, contact Lori Twilegar at To contact Tournament Director Pat McDonell about the event itself, email at for a prompt response.

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