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Reel and Deal makes mad dash to the winner's circle!


The tourney set records for 100-pound fish (27), tied a record for number of teams paid (9) and concluded the competition among 118 teams with a dramatic finish with a 208 pounder for John Pentz's team with minutes to spare


BY GARY GRAHAM and PAT McDONELL
WON Staff Writers

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CABO SAN LUCAS -- The 12th WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament has become a 'must attend' event for many teams of anglers. As the multi-faceted, four-day, fast-paced affair began mid-week, it was obvious to even the most casual observer that while at the heart of the event was the two-day fishing competition, the camaraderie and parties were equally as important.


TEAM 36'S ANDERS OLDENBURG was honored for traveling all the way from Helsinki, Finland.

Indeed, the event has become popular with an unusual mix of anglers which includes first-timers as well as serious, well-seasoned professionals who can, and do, compete around the world. There were teams from six countries, but as it turned out, the title went to a local team headed up by John Pentz aboard his boat Reel and Deal who made a mad dash to the scales at Cabo San Lucas Marina at the end of the weigh-in to take the title and the lion's share of the $423,000 in prize money.

The tourney boasted 118 teams, and in its 12th year, tied last year's record for the number of payouts to teams, nine, and also produced the best overall fishing in the history of the event with 27 fish over 100 pounds brought to the scales, despite rough weather brought on by heavy winds that snapped to attention the first morning of competition. And again, the tourney was the biggest in Cabo San Lucas, and remains the largest jackpot tuna tourney in the world.


THE FIRST DAY'S fishing gets underway!

"We've had bigger fish, like last year's 383 pounder, and better weather, but never this quality of fish," said tournament co-director Mike Packard. "And that was just the fish that were brought to the scales. It was surprising that more 200 pounders were not brought in considering the quality of fishing Cabo has had this past two months."

Media attention was heavy at the event, largely because it is the biggest Cabo event and many local teams -- as well as international teams from Spain, Canada, Ireland, and as far away as Finland, joined the majority of teams that hailed from the U.S. Throughout the two-day fishing event, beginning on Thursday morning's shotgun start, many local officials were willing, and even eager, to get up early to be on board the Oceanus to fire the triple signal flares signaling the beginning of the tournament. Those dignitaries included Governor of Baja California Sur Narciso Agundez Montano, the Los Cabos Mayor Oscar Rene Nunez Cosio and the Port Captain Luis Jorge Ochoa Ochoa. Many more attended the awards ceremony on Saturday night, including Miroslava Bautista Sanchez, the Director Municipal de Tourism de Los Cabos, Juan Antonio Angulo, and Oscar Daccarett, Sport Fishing Commissioner, Baja California Sur.


TEAM 86's Dale Braun of Sandusky, Ohio was hooked up with his Costa hat on and the tuna boiling. The fish he caught was a 50 pounder, but the fish the team caught, a 121.4 pounder, the first day, was just 12 pounds out of the money. MAURA BRAUN PHOTO

This year's winners circle once again reflects the unusual mix of attendees who enjoy the satisfaction of participating in what has become the most popular tuna tournament in the world.

While a ton of prizes and gifts had already been awarded at the all-day check-in and Yo-Zuri Captains' Meeting at the host hotel (the Tesoro) four days earlier, followed by another wad of prizes at the Reactor/Costa Boardwalk Fiesta the night before at the Tesoro, the Yamaha dinner also had a massive giveaway of drawing prizes.

But the main order of business was the awarding of money to the top teams, and it was a freewheeling, fun affair after the Ruth's Chris-catered dinner as the anglers or team captains told stories of how they scored their winning fish.

The champions were: First overall was Team 87, Real and Deal, with a 208 pounder which was the only yellowfin tuna exceeding the 200-pound mark and the last fish of the tournament to reach the scale with just minutes to spare as the 6 p.m. deadline to weigh fish loomed. The team included Team Captain John Pentz, Miguel Castro, Ignacio Ibarra, and Caroline Wilson.


OSCAR DACCARETT, last year's champion, celebrates with his good friend and 2010 champion team captain John Pentz of the Reel and Deal after the victory cigars were handed out at the awards. RICHARD CHUDY PHOTO

Their total winnings were $116,500 from several different categories.

The winning fish was caught on 80-pound line with a 150-pound Seaguar leader on a Penn 50 International. The fish ate a live bait with a Mustad circle hook. Their last-minute arrival at the scale provided a dramatic ending to the tournament when weighmaster and Assistant Director Mike Packard declared the 208-pound fish to be the first in the contest to break that 200-pound barrier. That fish broke the hearts of the Dick Landfield's team on the Reel Quest that had brought a 192 pounder to the scale about 10 minutes earlier and looked sure to win several of the lucrative optionals. Instead of winning $116,000 and taking the title, the team placed second and won $4,700 in overall money.


TOURNEY DIRECTOR PAT McDONELL is honored by Oscar Daccarett of the Baja Sur Sportfishing Council. WON, as a publication, was also honored for its support of Baja tourism and sportfishing, as was Tracy Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet for her sportfishing conservation efforts. Pictured at right is Tracy's husband, Marco Ehrenberg, of the Pisces Fleet, who helped Oscar Daccarett make the presentations in English during the awards ceremony. RICHARD CHUDY PHOTO

"Said Reel Quest angler Brad Stevenson, "I am not sure what is harder to recover from -- the party you throw or the second place versus first place winnings. I think next year the tournament should be 10 minutes shorter," he joked. "I cannot stop talking about what a great time it was, especially backing in the boat to weigh the big fish. What an experience!"

What made the weigh-in more dramatic this year was the new weigh-scale area in front of the Hotel Tesoro's new entrance and in front of the No Worry's patio bar. The new ramp put in by the Marina Cabo San Lucas for the tourney allowed the crowd to see the sportfishers back in, load their fish and bring them to the scale. At time, 400 to 500 people jammed the malecon and ooh and aahed as the big fish were put on carts and wheeled up to the new scale at the top of the ramp and hoisted by electronic winch.


THROUGHOUT THE TWO-DAY FISHING EVENT, beginning on Thursday morning's shotgun start, many local officials were willing, and even eager, to get up early to be on board the Oceanus to fire the triple signal flares signaling the beginning of the tournament.

Last-minute drama and heartbreak. Indeed, that is often the thrill and despair of tournament fishing, and many teams led on the leader boards both days only to see their leads -- and money, slip away. The Reel and Deal's mad dash to the scale -- and the title, was a good story.

Accepting the award for the team, John Pentz commented, "We would like to thank everyone. We are a local team and this is part of our world. Whether it was catching bait before the tournament or during the tournament, our team worked very hard... but it was a fun tournament. We spent the past two days on the outer Gordo Bank fishing alongside our friend, Oscar Daccarett, hopeful that one of us would catch the winning fish. That's what fishing is all about, the camaraderie we all share."

Continued Pentz, as the song "We are the champions" played out in the background and the photographers clicked and videographers shot, "on the first day, we hooked a larger fish that was lost when it was caught up in another boat's line. We knew that there were large fish there so we didn't give up. We had a vision. When we hooked the fish at 3 p.m. we had been fishing on the outside of Gordo getting beat up all day long. We had seen the fish the day before that we lost, and it was larger than this one.


FIRST OVERALL WAS TEAM 87, Reel and Deal, with a 208 pounder which was the only yellowfin tuna exceeding the 200-pound mark and the last fish of the tournament to reach the scale.

"Once hooked, the fish dogged it, struggling to stay down. Fishermen who catch tuna understand how difficult it is to catch a big one. Two hours later, at 5 p.m. we gaffed it and had it on board in three minutes. We figured we had a 40-minute ride to get to Cabo from where we were. The engines were rolling after that. We were so happy to see the port of Los Cabos. It was incredible! I think we docked around 5:51. We weighed our fish at 5:57 p.m. and lo and behold, it won!

"I want to thank all the participants! We all fished hard, searching for the right fish out there in the ocean and our team was just lucky enough to get the prize! Thanks to all of you and Damien, my Captain, and his brother, Nacho, Carolyn, Alliea. It has been a tough year but Los Cabos is back and we will be back. The city is back, Mexico is back, we are proud to be Mexicans!"

The team also won cigar boxes loaded with Cabo's finest Mexican cigars rolled that day, and a gift certificate from Gray's Taxidermy for a fish mount of the winning tuna, shipped anywhere in the U.S. Gray's also sponsored the construction of the new weigh scale at the Tesoro Hotel at the new weigh-in site made possible by Marina Cabo San Lucas.


THE 167.7-POUND FISH by K.W.'s Karma was caught by Mike Joseph on a Yo-Zuri Bonita Marauder. It was worth $70,800 in day 1 optional money.

The second highest money winner was Team 51, Buckeye Tuna, KW's Karma, Jamie Greer, Dayton, Ohio, Dave Dunton, Milford, Ohio, Lance Gildner, Dayton, Ohio, Mike Joseph, Roswell, Ga., with a 167.7-pound yellowfin tuna that earned them $70,800 as they won the day one $2,000 and $5,000 optionals.

No stranger to winning, the Ohio-based team were Jackpot Champions in 2006, with an astounding 318-pound yellowfin tuna tournament record on the Ni Modo that was considered unbeatable until Oscar Daccarett on the Fisher Man did just that last year with his 383-pound fish. Said Jamie Greer, "Our fish was caught by Mike (Joseph) on a Yo-Zuri Bonita Marauder." (Jamie's father had also caught a 170-pound tuna during prefishing on the Yo-Zuri Bonita Marauder, plus a striped marlin, thanks to Yo-Zuri, a tourney sponsor.) Thanks also to my crew: Captain Juan, Gallo, my father who wore his lucky Magic Budman shirt, which he has also worn in several other tournaments that we have won. What a fabulous tournament! Great team and crew!"


THIRD PLACE in winnings was Team 66, with a 158.3-pound yellowfin tuna on Minerva, winning $63,200 in day two optionals.

Third place in winnings was Team 66, with a 158.3-pound yellowfin tuna on Minerva, with longtime tuna jackpot anglers and multi-year optionals winners Greg Patton of Pleasant Hill, Calif., Mark Karpenko of Concord, Calif., and Bill Patton of Pleasant Hill, Calif. winning $63,200 by taking the money off the day 2 $3,000 and $5,000 optionals.

This father and son team is in the tournament every year, often in contention; son Bill thanked everyone involved in making the event such a success. Then he went on to say, "Minerva Smith is a dear friend of ours and my father has been fishing her boats for 30-plus years. We both love Minerva and really like Bob (Smith, Minerva's husband)."

"Our Captain Arturo is an inspiration. He told us of speaking to his son who recently moved to Sonora, Mexico, by telephone the last day of fishing. He related that his son said, 'You must always keep the faith' and he was praying for our team today. Unfortunately, Mark Karpenko is not here as he had to fly to Nova Scotia to do a chain-saw ice sculpture, but he should be recognized for his part in our team! "May God bless you all!"


TOURNEY HOST HOTEL TESORO proved to be a fantastic venue for many of the events, including the new weigh-in site, with a new ramp provided by the marina provided a great viewing point for teams unloading and weighing fish with elevated bars at Tesoro and No Worry's Restaurant.

Next on the winning lineup was a familiar bunch of anglers, led by team captain Mike Menas of Lake Zurich, Ill., Team 75, on the Shambala. They were the only team to weigh in three fish over 100 pounds -- a 133-pound yellowfin tuna, a 149-yellowfin tuna and a 147.9 yellowfin tuna. The team members also included Jim McLaughlin, Monaco, Wis., Bruce McClaren, Hinsdale, Ill., Bradley Damasco and Captain TJ, with winnings of $57,200 as they took the first day's $3,000, and $10,000 with the 133 pounder, and then followed that up by winning the second day's $10,000 jackpot for $16,000 for a total of $57,200.

Menas is a veteran tourney competitor who won the tournament and just over $277,000 on the Bottom Line several years ago had the misfortune last year of having his boat catching fire and sinking. Everyone was safe, which was the most important thing, but he decided to sit out the Tuna Tournament last year.


ON THE SECOND DAY, Team 40, Pacing the Cage, on the Mucho Bueno with anglers Scott McPhearson, Paradise City Ariz., Jim Schuller, Ray Gardener and Art Pearce delivered a 56.8-pound wahoo, earning themselves $32,000.

This year, he returned on Shambala, going across the board on optionals for a $23,000 pay-in, bringing with him a team that always rises to the challenge. This team knows how to fish and is always a team to watch. Captain T.J. Hobson is one of the top anglers in the world. Menas thanked everyone for a great tournament. The team was reluctant to participate in the $10,000 category but Menas talked them into it. Menas was right two days straight, and it paid off.

Tourney director McDonell continued to hand out the money. A nice check for $46,600 was handed to Team 91, on the Afishianado, made up of Bennet Salvay of Tarzana, Calif., Jeff McMahon of North Hills, Calif., and Evan Salvay of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., with a 180-pound yellowfin tuna that earned them the money from the day 1 $500 and $1,000 optionals.


YO-ZURI SHOPPING SPREE WINNERS -- At the Yo-Zuri Captain's Meeting at the Tesoro, those sitting in the seats were asked by WON's Mike "Seth" Super Bad Bohn, national sales rep for WON, to look under them for a Yo-Zuri sticker, and nine anglers came up with the stickers and were awarded $100 shopping sprees tickets for Yo-Zuri products. One of the 10 Yo-Zuri stickers was not claimed, but one angler found it two days later under his seat at the Fiesta, and he also got a $100 shopping spree! WON PHOTO BY GARY GRAHAM

Team Captain Salvay told the crowd, "This was a fun year because we were able to prefish for a few days which allowed us to find some different spots of fish and eliminate some that weren't holding fish. On the first day we were able to avoid the crowd and be off by ourselves. We were lucky and found the right fish; it beat us up a little bit, but we managed to land it and it was well worth the additional effort to find our own spot with less pressure. Being the first one on the school was definitely an advantage. We will be back again next year!"

"In addition to my team, I would also would like to thank my crew, Carlos. He did a great job! We've known each other a long time... also I want to thank Minerva and Bob Smith, running in checking on our line the last minute. We appreciate their extra effort. Finally, thanks to Western Outdoor News for continuing to produce our favorite, fun tournament!"


KNOT TYING CHAMPS -- Bob Hoose of Berkley conducted its knot tyimg contest and winners of $300 of line were: Womens Division winner was Ginnie Trentner, and 25-pound test Big Game broke at 28.8 pounds (San Diego Jam Knot). And the Mens Division winner was Alex Anderius, and his 25-pound test Big Game broke at 31.4 pounds (secret local knot.) WON PHOTOS BY GARY GRAHAM

The hard luck and most disappointing story of the event was, of course, Team 105 aboard the Reel Quest, captained by veteran big game tournament angler Dick Landfield of Yorba Linda, Calif., Chuck Oltman, Brad Stevenson, and Bob Ferguson. Their 192-pound yellowfin tuna looked to be a big winner and the championship, but with 5 minutes to go, the Reel and Deal's 208 pounder shut the door on the team title and money.

Landfield told the crowd that, with only 15 minutes left before the 6 p.m. weigh-in deadline, they had felt pretty confident that they could win top fish honors. When they heard the cheers as the Reel and Deal's fish was unloaded, their confidence waned, and it was quickly shattered as the weight of the fish was announced by Mike Packard. However, they still managed to salvage a $4,600 payout.

Landfield said, "It was a great effort by the team. I have never seen anyone work a kite harder in my life. At five minutes of three, we arrived at the scale and sat at the dock and waited and waited. I really want to thank WON and all the sponsors, like Seaguar. WON has done a great job at improving the event every year. A few years ago we won more on a 38-pound dorado than we did here but it's not only about the money."


TANYA STEVENS of "lucky team 11" and the Hillbilly Yacht Club from Coalinga, Calif., receives a consolation gift in the knot tying contest when she was beat out in the final minutes by Ginnie Trentner.

The final winner in the tuna division was Team 9, Fish Tales with Michael Queen of Golden Colo., Karla Schubert, Dorene Queen and Will Shubert. Their 182.4-pound yellowfin tuna earned them third place overall a check in the amount of $2,300.

When Michael was asked what he attributed his success in the tournament to he simply said, "Redrum Sportfishing John knows!"

Dorado and Wahoo Division

The first day, Team 4, made up of Ronald Flores, El Dorado Hills Calif., Alec Flores, Robert Delvo, and Jeff Quist, caught a 34.8-pound wahoo on the Marea, earning them nearly $1,000 per pound for a total of $32,000. "We began fishing the event three years ago, and that's lot of money to win in the dorado/wahoo optional," Flores said.


SOME OF THE WON team poses with the trophy honoring Western Outdoors News for its continuing support of Baja Sur.

On the second day, Team 40, Pacing the Cage, on the Mucho Bueno, made up of team captain Scott McPhearson of Paradise City Ariz., Jim Schuller, Ray Gardener and Art Pearce delivered a 56.8-pound wahoo, earning themselves an impressive $32,000.

The total cash awarded in this year's event totaled $423,200! The total donated to local children's charities was over $20,000. Total prizes in drawings amounted to $100,000.

Once again, the 12th Annual WON/Yamaha Tuna Tournament offered a dazzling array of experiences and memories that reflect the many reasons that the event continues to gain in popularity. The blend of fishing, parties, friendships, camaraderie, contests and raffles seem to be a winning formula. This event continues to break existing records every year as it has continues to mature and grow. Next year's event is Nov. 2-5. Details and entry forms will soon be found on www.loscabostunajackpot.com and team can pay entry fees at www.wonews.com (events/cabo).


YAMAHA GUESS THE WEIGHT CONTEST WINNER Jim Stafford of Visalia hit the nail on the head, guessing the winning fish's weight -- 208 pounds -- to win the Yamaha Outboards Guess the Winning Weight Contest. All the anglers guessed a specific weight, and Stafford got it right, to win an Alaskan fishing trip for two people to R.W.'s in Alaska.

THE HARD LUCK AWARD should go to Team 105 on the Reel Quest. The team consisted of team captain Dick Landfield of Yorba Linda Calif., Chuck Oltman, Brad Stevenson, and Bob Ferguson. They saw their 192-pound fish topped with minutes to go by team Reel and Deal's 208 pounder.