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Sponsors again inundate anglers with prizes
Tenth Anniversary Tuna Jackpot Bash goes big

BY RICH HOLLAND
WON Staff Writer

Night after night of parties and it seemed like the pile of swag provided by all of the WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot's great sponsors would never go away, no matter how fast Rick Maxa of Let's Talk Hook-Up! radio show tried to move through the raffle tickets.

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THE LINE AT THE CHECK-IN flowed smoothly as anglers picked up vital information and goody bags that included, well, bags. Turner's Outdoorsman provided backpacks to every team member with the Tuna Jackpot log embroidered on the back. WON PHOTOS BY RICH HOLLAND

Maxa wasn't there for the kickoff event, the Captains' Meeting that follows the check-in and signups. Seems he took off with the boys from Berkley, who after a long day of handing out Gulp! and wheeling and dealing visors (a cerveza or a pretty face seemed to do the trick) needed to hit a local taco stand.

National beverages flowed freely from the bar set up on the boardwalk in front of Ruth's Chris and the Puerto Paraiso Mall and the sharp corner in the marina was where Baja scribes Jonathan Roldan and Gary Graham ran the annual casting contest. No entry fee was required this year for a practice cast and a cast that counted, but you could pony up some dough for an extra try at hitting the floating hoop and getting into the finals for a shot at a Yamaha generator and one of the four Avet reel/Seeker rod combos used in the event.

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FULL PARTY REGALIA was sported by several of the teams that attended the awards ceremony of the 10th Annual WON/Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament. PHOTOS BY RICH HOLLAND

The pressure was on as the six finalists were whittled down to four (Mike Shrosbree choked for the second year in a row) and then that four cast for the top prize and a cash pot that added up to close to $100 in dollars and pesos. Jacob Schue had the best cast as deemed by Tournament Director Pat McDonell and won the Yamaha generator, an Avet reel and Seeker rod, and the dough. Also winning rods and reels were Adrian Gordyn of Cabo San Lucas, Jamie Gayton of Studio City and Ken Snyder of Garibaldi, Ore., and the Eat Me Lure team. The boys looked stoked (girls tried, too, but didn't make the final) and why not? Avets are the hottest little two-speeds on the market and new sponsor Seeker long ago established their rods as tuna killers Speaking of Eat Me Lures, they once again entered a team in the tournament and broke out their biggest entourage of great looking gals, including the 6-foot, 3-inch Sylvia, a local model recruited by the equally exotic Evelyn Boyer. Sylvia turned out to be one of the Corona girls. The gals sold Eat Me Lure tank tops; and early in the evening, Milt Zemanek had the crowd vote for their favorite proud new owner, then gave the winner, Billy Joe Egan, a lure pack. The Eat Me Lure gals were a huge help in handing out all the prizes.

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ONE OF MANY REACTOR WATCHES given out during during the Tuna Jackpot goes to Chris White of Juneau, Alaska, seen here getting congratulated by Trey Jeffries.

Bruce Buckles of Yokohama tires definitely had one of the favorite prizes of the crowd -- a free set of tires up to a $1,200 value -- and John Petley of Casper, Wyo., said the set he won was going for some new tires on his wife's Hummer. That should be good enough for a hall pass to next year's event.

Trey Jeffries of Reactor watches and Dave Bulthuis of Costa Del Mar sunglasses explained their respective charity fundraisers (see the story in this supplement) and their respective product flowed like water. Reactor is a new sponsor and provided an amazing amount of product, including a watch that provides tide information as accurate as any paper chart. Costa Del Mar is a longtime sponsor that has given away hundreds and hundreds of their sunglasses -- which feature the best polarized optics in the world -- away to Tuna Jackpot anglers. It was no different this time around and you can be sure they were put to good use on the water (they come in handy after a night in Cabo, too).

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THE FIRST QUALIFYING FISH in the wahoo/dorado jackpot ultimately fell short for Scott McPherson, Jim Schaller and Roy Gardner on the 19th Hole.

Tracy Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet is an integral part of the Tuna Jackpot  -- it simply wouldn't happen without her -- and she stepped on stage to translate as Tournament Director Pat McDonell highlighted some of the more critical rules. One of the greatest progressions in the 10 years of the event has been to watch how locals have embraced the Tuna Jackpot. Of course it didn't hurt that the event was won by a local panga team skippered by Toño Arista, and the success of local pangas and yachts this year should certainly further the cause. But the coolest aspect is how the local anglers and crews feel comfortable taking part in the festivities -- and they sure enjoy winning prizes. As a result, while there were "only" 97 teams entered this year, all the parties were jammed with folks. And that included anglers from all over the states and as far away as Italy and Northern Ireland.

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AVET REELS AND SEEKER RODS went to Casting Contest winners Adrian Gordyn, Jamie Gayton, Jacob Schue and Ken Snyder. Schue also won a Yamaha generator.

Earlier in the day, everyone who signed up as a team member was given a backpack courtesy of Turner's Outdoorsman and the bag of swag included a pack of Owner hooks, official tournament hats, and hats and visors from Yamaha and Seaguar, tons of stickers and more. Included were four Yokohama/WON Got Tuna? stickers and the contest that that accompanied them had to explained more than once by McDonell.

McDonell told the crowd that between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. he would be looking for the stickers in town and on boats -- anywhere in town and on boats.

Team members were directed to put their name and team numbers on the stickers and if McDonell saw them at several predetermined times, the team would be in the running for a set of Yokohama tires and four Reactor watches.

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DAVE BULTHUIS of Costa Del Mar handed out visors and plenty of sunglasses at the Tuna Jackpot.

He chose several times because the deal was the winners had to be present at Thursday night's Yokohama Boardwalk bash catered by Solomon's Landing that took place in front of Solomon's and the Tesoro Resort. The first team Pat announced wasn't there, so the team of Eric Stark, Leslie Hayslip, Mike Turck and Jeanne Turck scored the tires and watches. They said they ran around at 6 a.m. that morning between the weigh station and Solomon's putting up stickers and figured (rightly) the sticker that got stuck at Lorenzillo's Lobster was the winner. In all, over $20,000 in prizes was given away at the first Thursday party in years, including a bunch of gift certificates for Baja Fish Gear tackle store.

The Rock 'N Roll party Friday night at Cabo Wabo got stuck between a rock and hard place, the plug getting pulled before it was time to roll. Still, a lot of money was raised for charity, Melton's gift certificates awarded and Chris White won the Reactor watch by winning the name the sponsor quiz. He won prizes the night before, too, and the Tuna Jackpot regular always seems to have his name drawn. It's got to be hard on teams to watch repeat winners in the raffles, but then again White has his own frustrations.

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THE YOKOHAMA BOARDWALK BASH was held in the corner of the marina in front of Solomon's Landing, which provided a great barbecue meal for the event.

"We can't win the tournament, but we do well at the parties said White, who resides in Juneau, Alaska. "We weigh fish, but we can't get the one that takes us over the hump."

Saturday night's the big party, the time when everyone has had a day to sleep in (except for the winners, sponsors and staff who got to hang out at the Pisces Fleet headquarters and go on the radio show with Rick Maxa that morning. Not to mention his roommate at the fabulous Tesoro Resort who was treated to multiple cell phone alarms). Everyone shows up looking good and feeling fine. Well, almost everyone.

The boardwalk in front of Puerto Paraiso was decked out, the waiters were kept hopping with trays full of drinks and Ruth's Chris put out a spectacular buffet of tenderloin, fish, barbecue chicken, pasta, salad, rolls and bread pudding. Bruce Buckles kicked things off by giving out the last three sets of Yokohama tires to Tamara Lake of Parachute, Colo., Dan Russell of Pine, Ore., and Roberto Paco of Cabo San Lucas.

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NEW SPONSOR Reactor watches made a big splash with their functional and stylish sport watches. Trey Jeffries and Scott Lipsett gave away an amazing number of watches.

And Maxa kept the prizes flowing, only to be stopped when one of the night's grand prizes was pulled out prematurely and Pat McDonell stepped in. "We're going to put all the cards back in for our two big prizes so everyone has a shot," he said.

Still, great prizes like the awesome Spot satellite locator/message unit and tons of Plano tackle boxes and rod tubes (usually accompanied by a Seeker rod) went out, along with Berkley line and Seaguar fluorocarbon, Englehardt Action fishing lures, Lowrance color sonar units (you should have seen Kirk Dwyer beam when he got his) and one Avet reel after another. A beautiful ladies Reactor watch was sure to make some wife at home happy.

Besides winning the overall jackpot and the carved David Wirth hook trophies, the Redrum Charter team on Reel Rum got a $1,000 gift certificate from Global Fishmounts (think that will come in handy for someone who just caught a 244-pound tuna to win a tournament?) and a $250 gift certificate from Fishworks clothing. (By the way, Lawrance, Mike and Russel had some great t-shirts for sale throughout the event.)

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THE AWARDS CEREMONY included a sitdown dinner for the 400 anglers and crew members who showed up on the last night of the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot.

Jaime Rendon's Dr. Pescado team got $250 in Fishworks clothing and $500 from Yamaha, our new title sponsor, which ponied up that cash for the biggest fish caught on an outboard-powered boat.

The evening drew to a close with three major drawings.

The first was a trip to the Coral Star. Reel sponsor Avet recently purchased the mothership operation that fishes the rich waters of Panama and the winner was Werner Leuenberger of Cabo (late of British Columbia).

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STICKER CONTEST winners Mike Turck, Jeanne Turck, Eric Stark and Leslie Hayslip show off their Reactor watches and $1200 Yokohama tire certificate.

Then longtime sponsor Chuck Baird stepped up and gave away a $8,000 trip to Waterfall Resort in Alaska for two anglers. Now everybody wants to be friends with Mark Frank of Casper, Wyo.

Finally, all the sponsors in attendance stepped up on the stage and the winner of the early bird package was drawn. Doug Christie had his ticket picked for the package valued at $15,360 (see sidebar) and teammates David Lavier, Bill Raglione and Justin Pearson quickly figured out that since there was four of everything, it was a team prize and they were entitled to a share.

Thanks once again to all the great sponsors who make the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot not only possible, but the best damn party anywhere.