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Full moon cana^t eclipse race for the big bucks in Cabo tuna tournament.

WON Staff Writer

CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS ÅÄ Cabo craziness hardly needs a full moon to spur things on, but the lunar orb grew each day 184 boats headed out in a feverish chase for big tuna and the $425,200 cash payout in the Western Outdoor News Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament sponsored by Mercury.

Anticipation was high during the signups at the new Puerto Paraiso mall that flanks the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Teams in contact with local charter captains and fleets found out several large yellowfin tuna were hooked up that Wednesday afternoon. One, a 220-pound yellowfin, would be landed by an angler on a Pisces Fleet charter boat.

There was early disappointment, however, as tournament officials stuck to their well-publicized (both in Cabo and the States) intention not to accept entry or additional jackpot monies at the event.

aWe maxed out for the venues we have planned for this yeara^s event,aÅN explained tournament director Kit McNear at the time. aWe want to make sure that everyone has a great experience.aÅN

FLY BY - One of the many gleaming sport fishers in the Tuna Jackpot flies by the Oceanus, official start boat of the Tuna Jackpot tournament sponsored by Mercury.

McNeara^s reasoning quickly became evident as hundreds of competitors filled the seats surrounding the stage set up on the marina male?on at the entrance to the mall for the captaina^s meeting. By the time WON publisher Joe Higgins got to handing out the first $50,000 chunk of the over $180,000 in prizes on tap besides the tourney cash, it was standing room only.

The real deal started early the next morning when Ulysses CeseÅ|a, mayor of Cabo San Lucas, fired a flare at 7 a.m. and 184 sportfishers ranging from pangas to gleaming multimillion dollar machines fanned out in a diesel haze to find their destiny.

With demand high and full moon bait supplies low, some boats stayed behind to try and add some big baits to their arsenal from the mixture of bonito, skipjack and caballito under the birds off the Arch. Others simply put the pedal to the metal to run as far as 85 miles and trust to their favorite lures.

When the scales opened at 2 that afternoon, the only news was not good. Radio silence had been imposed on the tournament channel 24 to facilitate the airlifting of heart attack victim Chuck Johnson from the Ex Artica. It wasna^t long before the olive drab military helicopter chugged straight over the marina on the way back from its successful rescue mission.

Meanwhile at the scales it was a long wait for the first fish. When the boats did start to line up at the dock, many teams just wanted to weigh in a dorado or wahoo to qualify for the set of G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels.

Mixed in were some tuna, and a asecretaÅN lure propelled the Picante Pride team captained by Peter Lorman of Torrance to the top spot in the $400 and $500 daily jackpots thanks to a 75.3-pound yellowfin tuna. (At the awards Lorman would reveal the lure was a Zee Lure recently developed in Hawaii.)

The letdown of the day came when Victor Locklin on the Cabo Marlin II weighed in the biggest yellowfin tuna of the day ÅÄ a 78.2-pound tuna ÅÄ then told WONa^s Pat McDonell and the Outdoor Channela^s camera his team wasna^t in any of the daily jackpots.

That meant Lormana^s teama^s position was safe and a 61.2-pound yellowfin weighed by the Barramonde II team still held onto the major chunk of cash in the $1000, $2000 and $3000 pots.

The No Mas captained by Todd Flemmer dashed those hopes when ita^s 68-pound yellowfin weighed in just a half-hour before the deadline to enter the marina was good enough to sweep the big money jackpots.

Another gorgeous Cabo morning ÅÄ water around 80 degrees and the humid air a bit hotter ÅÄ greeted the second morning of fishing. There was sign of wind from the Gulf and the wind would kick up later in the Pacific.

This time the wait for fish to weigh wouldna^t be long. Anticipating a leisurely early afternoon, some of the WON staff had to scramble as the charter boat Fish Tales Too slid up to the dock with the first large yellowfin of the Tuna Jackpot.

The fattie looked beautiful hanging from the scale and weighmaster Bill Hutchesona^s announcement of a weight of 157.8 pounds set off an early celebration among the team of Lloyd Collyer, son Dean and Mike Zimmerman.

Local captain David Morales explained they had decided to come in early after putting the big fish aboard and that it wasna^t the biggest fish they hooked. Morales felt the fish that hit a jig to stop the boat was bigger.

Lloyd Collyer explained he was fighting the jig fish from the boata^s chair when another tuna ate a caballito dropped back on a Shimano Tiagra 30 and 80-pound test. The 8/0 Owner Gorilla hook they received from Ownera^s Dennis Yamamoto at the signups was attached to the bait via Dacron and a tiny hook.

LARGEST TUNA of the Tuna Jackpot was this 157.8-pound fish caught by the team and crew aboard the Fish Tales Too on day two of the event.

Dean Collyer fought the bait fish standup and said it was putting the hurt on him when the lines crossed deep and his dada^s fish was a goner.

aWe had yellow Power Pro Spectra on the bait reel,aÅN noted Lloyd. aWhen I got my line back the end of the mono was fluorescent yellow.aÅN

There was one advantage to the situation.

aI was able to get in the chair and that was a lot better,aÅN Dean said. aI had seen pictures of big tuna and mounts, but when they put the gaffs in that big fish and brought it over the side ÅÄ wow!aÅN

The only wows to follow at the weighin the next couple hours were for a 55.6-pound wahoo caught by Scott Dilleya^s team on the Curandero IV. The big wahoo made the procession of 30 to 35-pound dorado that followed meaningless, but at least they gave the crowd something to look at.

Then at 4:30 another tuna was brought to the scales. The Barramonde II team was back on the board, this time with a solid 78.9-pound yellowfin tuna. With the Fish Tales Too team only in the $400 and $500 jackpots, Don Stevensa^ team stood to earn over $130,000.

Except boats still had an hour and a half to get inside the marina and weigh fish. Mike Packard, who manned the radio as tournament control, said there was word of boats with bigger fish charging towards the scale.

A CROWD quickly formed for the captaina^s meeting the first Mazurkiewicz. night of the Tuna Jackpot tournament in Cabo San Lucas.
As the sun set, the Fish Tales Too tied up along the weighin dock and waited out the final minutes. Barramunde II team members milled near the scale.

A big sportfisher flew into the back of the marina, spun and backed into the dock right at 6, but all that came off the back was a dorado.

After a call to McNear ÅÄ who was posted at the marina entrance with a notary public ÅÄ determined there would be no more boats, McDonell and Hutcheson closed the scale and the Fifth Annual Western Outdoor News Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament was overÅE

              ÅEall except for the partying.

The first was that Friday night at Mama Rosaa^s Shrimp Bucket just up the male?on. It was standing room only again as tournament participants enjoyed cold drinks, plates of shrimp and carne asada tacos while Joe Higgins gave out another $50,000 in prizes as quick as he could pull names from a bucket.

Everyone was back at Puerto Paraiso the next night for more prizes and a buffet dinner catered by mall restaurants Rutha^s Chris, Houlihana^s, 100-percent Natural and the Harley Davidson Bar.

One prize that wasna^t given away was the $24,000 Seaswirl boat, seeing that no one beat last yeara^s tournament-winning weight of 258.9 pounds.

Lots of big checks got handed out that night as the full moon reappeared from a total eclipse. Fish Tales Too was the overall champion thanks to their big tuna, taking home $105,560 (local skipper David Morales took home $10,556 of that.) A highlight of the evening was the generosity of the winning team, as they not only donated $8,000 to a local charity, but Lloyd Collyer was also the winning bidder for the Peter J. painting and his $4,300 went to the Cabo fire department.

The biggest money winners were on the Barramonde II, as angler/boat owner Roberto Franco, Benjamin Aljeo, team captain Don Stevens and Jeff Hamm split up $140,160 thanks to the second biggest fish of the event.

The No Mas team of Todd Flemmer, Shaun Kearney, Steve Brackman and Mark Brackman earned $132,800.

The Picante Pride team of Peter Lorman, Joe Scott, Sam Snyder and Greg Crompton shared $43,000.

The Cabo Marlin II team of Victor Locklin and Ray Hederer earned $3680 for the biggest fish of the first day and the third biggest overall for the tourney.

Scott Dilley, Albert Behr, Martin Lomelli and Dave Lammens won Shimano reels and G. Loomis rods for their big wahoo on the Curandero IV.

WON Editor wrapped up the evening by thanking everyone for attending and reminded them to come back.

aWea^ll be back next year and we want you to join us,aÅN said McDonell. aNext yeara^s dates are Nov. 3 through Nov. 6. The best way to sign up early is on the Web at