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Top Yachts Swap spots, bucks

Top yachts swap spots for $132,800 jackpots

WON Staff Writer

CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS ˜ This is a topsy-turvy tale of instant karma and lots of cash.While many teams in the Western Outdoor News Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament sponsored by Mercury caught yellowfin tuna, it took a tuna over 60 pounds to make a trip to the scales really worthwhile. As in hundreds of thousands of dollars worthwhile. To make big money in an event like the Tuna Jackpot, you have to put  money in. It‚s called getting into the jackpots across the board. In  the case of WON‚s Cabo event that means a total of $7,500 for the $600 basic entry fee and the $400, $500, $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 pots. Each day of the two-day event, the biggest fish weighed in weren‚t in the jackpots across the board. In fact, well into the first day‚s weigh-in, the Barramonde II team looked like they might sneak away with $132,800 for a 61.2-pound yellowfin tuna when bigger tuna weighed in weren‚t in the top three pots.

TURNABOUT TEAMWORK - Team captains Don Stevens of the Barramonde II and Todd Flemmer of the No Mas (above) took turns acing each other out for $132,800
in daily jackpot money. On the first day it was this 68-pound yellowfin caught by Steve Brackmann (top right) on the No Mas that beat out Stevens‚ team. The entire No Mas team and crew accept their big check at the awards.

Then the No Mas came up to the dock with a 68-pound yellowfin tuna and stole both the glory and the money. In all the celebration by the No Mas anglers and the $43,000 winners on the Picante Pride, everyone forgot about the Barramonde II. Friday, on a day when the Fish Tale‚s Too weighed a whopping 157.8-pound tuna, it would have been easy to overlook the Barramonde II and their 78.9-pound tuna ˜ except for the fact their second day fish was worth $132,800 in sidepots the bigger fish didn‚t qualify for.

Of course there were the persistent rumors of boats with bigger fish racing against the clock to beat the weigh-in deadline, but the only boat that showed up at the last minute brought in a dorado. The Barramonde II had earned redemption, and, as it turned out, a bit of revenge to go with their cash. „They did it to us, then we did it to them,‰ Don Stevens, captain of the Barramonde II team, told WON at the Saturday night award‚s dinner. „That‚s right, we had a fish to weigh and just made it back to the  marina in time Friday,‰ said Todd Flemmer, owner and skipper of the No Mas. „But when we heard they had already weighed in a 79-pound fish, we decided not to weigh ours.‰ Flemmer said the tuna they caught the second day weighed 58 pounds on the boat‚s scale.

But the competition wasn‚t merely at the scale. Stevens pointed out both boats were fishing the same area of dolphin and tuna Friday. „Yeah, they ran outside and then came back to where we were and caught their fish,‰ Flemmer agreed.„We ran 85 miles out,‰ said Stevens. „The wind came up and it seemed like we spent half the time in the air.‰ While the No Mas is a high-powered sportfishing yacht, the Barramonde II is actually a tender for a luxury yacht. A 33-foot Hydra Sports, the Barramonde II sports three 250 hp outboards on its transom.

Running far and running fast has proven to be a successful Tuna Jackpot formula, but Roberto Franco, owner of the Barramonde II and the angler on both of the fish the team weighed in, said his boat got back to the scales a little too quickly Friday. „The first day there really wasn‚t time to think about the situation  because there was only a half-hour to go,‰ said Franco. „But Friday there was still an hour-and-a-half to go, and that was too much time, especially since we heard about a 200 pounder that was 12 minutes late getting to the marina.‰

Franco said the yacht that sped to the dock at the last minute Friday night didn‚t scare him. „We knew that team had only caught dorado, so it was actually a relief,‰ said Franco. „That‚s when I figured we had won.‰ The No Mas wasn‚t the only boat to turn away from the dock without  weighing a qualifying fish, according to Richard Hoffman, skipper of  former tournament winner Blue Thunder. „We made it into the marina with a minute to spare Thursday night,‰ said Hoffman. „But then we heard that Grosbeck weighed the 68 pounder and we decided not to weigh our fish.‰

While not a team member on the No Mas, famed tournament fisherman Pete Grosbeck was a member of the crew. At the awards he commented he spent the tournament locked into his gyro binoculars.

It paid off.