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Makeshift STIMULATOR team and run of good luck wins the big bucks in Baja

By PAT McDONELL
WON Staff Writer

For the past two years John Goette of Orange (far right in the photo with his teammates)  has treated two friends and business clients to the WON./Mercury Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament. Goette works at TVC Communications in Chino and sells underground communications materials to long distance companies. The mixing of business, competition, and pleasure in Cabo was just too much fun.

Thus, after that first year Goette, Pat Jeffries and Ernie Bernard made a pact, agreeing always to enter every year as a team on the Cabo-based charterboat Stimulator. That promise was made even after they lost a huge fish the first year, a   disappointment that likely cost them some big money.

PHOTO AT RIGHT: Stimulator owner/captain Jay Bush is at left, crewman Juan Carlos, Paul Friedrich and team captain John Goette of Orange) 

But last week, in the third year of the pact, Goette flew down alone because his two friends couldn't make it. Ernie's wife was concerned about her husband flying after the New York attack, and Pat’s business with Herman Weissker Construction in Rialto called him away at the last minute.

"Ernie’s wife said he couldn't go after the Trade Center attack, and I understood completely, without a doubt," said Goette. "And Pat just got called in at the last minute. But no way I wasn't going."

He ended up fishing with Paul Friedrich of Newport Beach who had just made a 9-day run down from Newport to Cabo on his 50-foot sportfisher Endorphin and was asked by friend and Stimulator owner/captain Jay Bush to sign on as a team member after Bush and Goette had prefished Tuesday with just crewman Juan Carlos.

Bush realized they needed more help on the deck, and Friedrich is an experienced offshore and marlin tournament angler. Freidrich agreed to fish despite the fact he was exhausted from the trip south; plus he'd been working hard on the boat to get it squared away after the trip south.

Bush was just coming off a big-bucks win two weeks earlier in the Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament, so he was on fire, and he always feels good about his chances for finding big tuna.

The first day of fishing among 154 teams provided little action for the Stimulator team outside the Gordo Bank as 11 tuna over 100 pounds were weighed in the first day, one of them a 151.6-pound yellowfin for the Picante Express team, made up of Mel and Judy Ostberg of El Cajon, Andres Montes of Ensenada and Mike Kraus of Newport Beach. That fish edged out a 149.10-pound tuna by the Blue Thunder team that took the big bucks last year. Since they were entered in all six daily jackpots, the Picante Express team won $126,280.

That night, Thursday, Goette and some firemen who were also staying at Viva Cabo put some money on the Hollywood Park ponies at the Caliente in Cabo, but Goette didn’t check his ticket that night, instead getting some sleep for the second day of fishing.

For Friday’s fishing, Bush downloaded a satellite map that showed a temp break at 30 miles on a 182 heading, and at 25 miles they dropped in the lures in somewhat sloppy seas.

"When we turned the corner at the break and started downswell it settled down," said Goette. It was Friedrich on the tower who glassed and spotted birds and porpoise underneath and no one else around. The first strikes were footballs, 15 pounders, and the second stop that put the lures deeper into the porpoise school resulted in a bigger grade of fish 30 to 35 pounders.

"At 1:30 we had hooked and landed a couple of tuna that later weighed 69 or 70 pounds and Jay wanted to go back in, but Paul said we should stay just a little longer, that we had plenty of time to get back in by 5:30." By this time, they had been with the school of porpoise for more than two hours.

Freidrich decided at this point to move a big jethead he’d bought at Melton's International in Anaheim from a flatline to an outrigger to see if it would give better action. It did, popping and spraying. Five minutes later, a huge tuna crashed on it, and the battle was on. Goette brought the fish to leader and gaff in 45 minutes using a Shimano Tiagra 130, 600-pound leader and 100-pound mainline. They made it back easily before the 5:30 deadline and the 156-pound yellowfin held up for the next, final hour.

The 156.pounder won all six Day 2 optionals and first place in the Overall for a cool $170,680. After that night's party at the Shrimp Bucket, Goette wandered by Caliente and checked to see if he’d won any of his Hollywood Park bets. He found he'd hit a trifecta and won $798.

"The firemen at the hotel found out about that and they wanted to grab me and take me off to Las Vegas," said Goette. "They wanted a little of that luck to rub off on ‘em."

As for Goette's fellow teammates, he's inviting them back again, as his guests, for another shot at the big bucks. After all, they made a pact to be back every year, and with a little more luck, Goette and his friends will be back in the winner's circle in 2002.