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RECAP 2012: ONE FOR THE BOOKS!


The best fishing for giant yellowfin tuna in history of the WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot was highlighted by 12 yellowfin over 200 pounds and a 372 Outer Gordo Banks' supercow that shocked the crowd and nearly 500 tournament anglers on 122 teams that vied for $564,400


CABO SAN LUCAS -- Last year's edition of the WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot did more than impress, it blew the socks off tournament anglers and the huge crowds that stacked up in front of the Wyndham both weigh-in days. While partying is part of the event, it is the allure of big money and big tuna that draws teams from several counties to Lands End.


A MASSIVE CROWD was in front of the host hotel Wyndham when a 372-pound jackpot winning tuna from the Estrella Del Norte and the North Star team was hoisted at the scale.

Everyone knew the Gordo Banks were going to be the place to fish the tournament after weeks of 200 and even bigger fish preceded check-in. The Gordo did not disappoint. The inner and outer banks were "parking lots" over two days, yet the cow parade still t included 5 over 200 on day one and an incredible 7 over 200, topped by a 372 for the eventual winners on the Estrella de Norte.

The big fish parade did more than impress, it led Tournament Director Pat McDonell to say that "This was the best action on big fish we've had in the event's history." Stretching since 1999, the Cabo Tuna Jackpot has proved over 14 years that Land's End is one of the best giant yellowfin locales in the world.

Day one brought with it a constant stream of 100 plus pounders, but it was Tracy Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet whisper to Tournament Director McDonell that led to the announcement: "Tracy just told me there is a huge fish coming in." That got the crowd primed to see if the fish might take the title.


THE YELLOWFIN was the second biggest in the tourney of history, behind the 383 pounder by FisherMan. North Star's tuna was one of 12 fish over 200 pounds.

From the malecon it looked like one of the 300 plus pounders that were sure to come to the scales -- given all the hype based on reports of huge fish leading up to the event -- but in the end the scale stopped at 266 for team on Renegade Mike.

Short on details -- exact details with one day still to fish -- they did tell the surging crowd at the Gray's Taxidermy Scale they were "on the Gordo," which seemed to be everyone's answer. Anglers Matt Heckler, Kyle Kramer and Joe DiCicco were pumped on the catch, as was boat owner Capt. Mike Tumbiero and his captains Fernando Castro and Christian Balderas. Eventually they would go on to say that a chunk of skipjack was what fooled the day one winner. The 266 pounder was to take second place as well as the Day 1 $500, $1,000 and $3,000 optionals and just over $95,000 for Renegade Mike.

Then on day two the Renegades had another huge fish -- this one 251, ironically on a chunk of their day one winner -- but this was after the eventual winners on the Estrella del Norte, and the overall and the $500 to $5,000 daily options on day two, had wowed the crowd when the scale stopped at 372 pounds.

It took a lot of manpower—and one straightened out hand gaff—to get the fish off the big custom 300 hp Yamaha-powered skiff Estrella del Norte, but eventually it went from deck to tote. The sheer length of the yellowfin was mind blowing, as it towered over onlookers. The 6/0 3X Mustad Demon Perfect Circle hook was still attached to the 100-pound Seaguar Fluoro Premier and the rod and reel as the fish was wheeled up IGY Marina's specially built ramp and through the surging crowd. Angler Edwardo Beltran walked boat alongside his cousin, Carlos, who tied the knots and connections.

"Outer Gordo," is what team member James Rosenwald and boat co-owner told McDonell with boat owner and captain Donald Luhittia alongside. It was a short answer. Rosenwald could talk much. It wasn't emotion. It was that he had been in the hospital for 11 days with a burned esophagus after accidentally drinking a resin mixture while at a boatyard. That's a whole other story.

Indeed, with no fishing left the "wheres" of the catch were a little more specific, although Luhitta provided the verbal details. It was a chunk of squid that fooled the second biggest tuna in the history of the jackpot. Clearly, it was the power of the chunk that won the big bucks, a whopping $233,540 as the team claimed all but one of the tuna optionals.

The incredible part was that more 150 plussers kept coming in Friday night, and many teams didn't even weigh in seeing how the 372 was now owning all but one of the optionals. Rumor was that some teams with 200 pounders just turned around from the staging dock when they heard that a 372 pounder came in. The final "money" weigh-in was by Maybe Manana, which had claimed the $10,000 first day's optional $36,000 pot with a 221 pounder and laid claim to the other $36,000 pot with a 97.7 pounder.

They say what happens in Cabo stays in Cabo, but a lot went out to the anglers and charities of Baja California Sur when it was all said and done, $20,000 went to charity, $564,000 and change in winnings were won by six teams, another $150,000 in prizes were doled out in free drawings and gifts.

A full story on the 2012 event can be seen at loscabostunajackpot.com, and in the 15-minute YouTube video on that website