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Party all the time at Cabo Tuna Jackpot

WON Staff Writer

CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS - Party time all the time. That's the foundation the Western Outdoor News/Mercury Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot was built upon and the eighth annual event reached new heights in getting down and getting up again.

Tournament director Pat McDonell literally lived the theme of the event, getting to Cabo early in time to enjoy the final festivities surrounding the Bisbee and laying the groundwork for Tuna Jackpot anglers.

McDonell actually started months before when he began negotiation with Cabo Wabo for the centerpiece Friday night Mercury party. It's that kind of planning that sets the Tuna Jackpot apart from all other tournaments.

Everything started this year, as usual, with the Wednesday check in at the Puerto Paraiso Mall, where every team member was given a goodie bag stuffed with the official hat and shirt. For the second year in a row there was casting contest, this time sponsored by Avet Reels, G. Loomis Rods and Berkley Line. While the nearby beer tents were crowded, the casting event only drew moderate response.

Ed Phillips, Oroville, Sam Gilstrap, Beaumont, TX, Dick Ostrop, Portland, OR, Mike Shrosbree, Laguna Niguel, Scott Overholt, Brea and Steve Murphy of Irvine all qualified for the final by castin into the target. Murphy was the best of the final four ó who all won Avet reels, Berkley line and G. Loomis rods ó and took home $580, the sum total of the $10 a cast entry fee.

That was just a drop in the bucket as more than $60,000 in prizes was on tap from the sponsors following the captain's meeting. This year Kit McNear held a separate session for the captains to go over the rules in order not to bore the rest of the crowd with the necessary details. Some were drawn to the meeting anyway when they heard product like each team's supply of Owner hooks was being given away, but they should have just stayed put as McDonell and Rockcod Rick Maxa of Let's Talk Hook Up! warmed up the crowd with hats and t-shirts.

When the captains returned, Maxa and the WON staff went into high gear and the prizes flowed like Cabo cerveza. Costa del Mar sunglasses easily lived up to its boast that it provided enough of its prized 580 model to give away a pair every 15 minutes.

Thursday night's partying was left to the staff and sponsors as anglers rested up from a strenuous day on the water to get ready for one more dash for offshore cash. Let's just say we did our best at Justa la Gusta.

By Friday night all that was left of fishing were the stories of victory and the ones that got away as anglers lined up outside Cabo Wabo in order to get prime seats for the party.

Mercury Tuna Jackpot hats and drink vouchers were handed out at the door and waiters soon passed around free tostadas, chicken fingers and taquitos.

"Women! I better see you out here on the dance floor," exhorted McDonell as he introduced Cabo Wabo's house band. While several couples cut the rug, it took a few rounds of both drinks and more free prizes to get everyone going and by the next set the house was rocking.

McDonell announced the Ruthless team of Kevin Jones, Elsa Jones, Mark Laines and Matias Torchio won a trip to Alaska with Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service for pointing to the WON decal on their boat at a predetermined time on the first morning of the event. By the time the last of the next $60,000 batch of prizes was handed out, regular patrons joined the party as those were only there for the swag left. A raucous rendition of Sweet Home Alabama by Eat Me Lures' Milton Zemunek is sure to be featured on Luis Duhart's tournament video.

The tables filled early for Saturday night's awards dinner at the Puerto Paraiso Mall and once again staff was prepared. Waiters took drink orders and the Tuna Jackpot's other director, Kit McNear, announced Ruth's Chris eight banquet tables were ready to start serving the fish, barbecued ribs and filet dinner 20 minutes before the party's actual start time. Another incredible array of prizes was handed out before and after the awards and charity auction of Dave Wirth's fabulous sculpture, topped by a trip for two for 3 nights and 4 days to Waterfall Resort in Alaska won by Dan Rising of Portland, OR.

Finally it was time for the staff to pack up and start planning next year's event. It's going to take a lot of work to make it better than this one. Thanks go to tournament directors Pat McDonell and Kit McNear and their crew of Jerry and Donna Puglisi, Bob McCurdy, Mike and Carla Packard, Dale and Grace Cote of Dreammaker Charters, Dave Wirth, Judy Passerello, Carolyn Collet, Chuck Buhagiar, Scott Nagle, Mike Bohn, Rod Halperin and Rick Maxa. Special thanks go to the great staff of the Puerto Paraiso Mall.