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Cabo perspective, seiners

THE CABO ESCAPE start boat gets ready to unleash the 143 competitors.

It's been a whirlwind, and I'm now still in the middle of the it, but back behind my desk, knocking out another issue of Western Outdoor News and reflecting of the 17th annual Tuna Jackpot that ran Nov. 4-7. Nine days in Cabo is a long time, and the highs and lows were many.

I ponder a lot of things but not for long. The task now is to tie up loose ends on 2015, produce this review, update websites, and get ready for the 18th annual tourney set for Nov. 2-5, 2016.

In my mind, as director, faced with 1,000 details and tasks, the tourney was a big success, but as with all events that have 500-plus anglers, nearly 150 boats, two huge dinners, two weigh-ins, charity auctions, a sponsors party, two shotgun starts and a catered charity charter on the start boat Cabo Escape for 150 people on the second day - there was always some venue to build, a place to be, and details to handle. There were nine events tied to the tourney. Make that 10 events

That's not to say I didn't jump in the Tesoro Hotel pool, sip a margarita or go dancing, however was all in moderation this year, more than any other.

In short, I had a rewarding time, but it was not a nine-day Cabo holiday. Each year, to be honest, I weigh the physical and mental toll against the thrill of directing the tourney, which is now the largest tuna tourney in the world and the biggest tourney in Mexico, by far. I always wonder if I should do another, not whether I can. I'm sure I can. Two hip surgeries later I feel better than ever.

WHAT MAKES a fisherman happy? Catching fish. Seiners were a major factor this year on the local banks, even though 13 fish over 100 pounds were brought to the scales.

I called in a radio report Saturday morning to Pete Gray's show Let's Talk Hookup and it gave me a chance to talk about the results, the success of the tourney in terms of drawing teams and paying out the record amount of $689,800.

It also gave me a chance to throw out some kudos to all who help put this event on. It takes a lot of people who are here at WON, as well as sponsors, friends and supporters and vendors in Cabo.

It's pretty cool to have that kind of help, and teamwork has some real rewards. A record payout, a $35,000 donation for facial surgeries for Cabo children, a foundation I chose and vetted. It was a success on two important levels to be proud of.

That said, there are things to fix, to avoid or streamline. A quicker check-in, a leaner and more fun dinner program. All to be easily handled Nov. 2-5, 2016. That said, we are going to work get the Mexican government to ban the use of purse seiners off Cabo. If nothing else, we will let them know our feelings. It's time the government gets its head out of the sand on this.

Certainly the local officials in Cabo - as well as the entire sportfishing industry down there - feel abandoned and frustrated, and angry. Cabo creates jobs. It is the second largest revenue stream for the federal government. You'd think they'd want to protect that investment in tourism. It's damn hard for me to promote a fishing tournament when a purse seine fleet owned by Japan and run off Mexican permits can come in and rake the area clean of yellowfin. That fish is headed to Asia.

The representative from the mayor's office said just about all that on stage at the awards. Give tuna the "sportfish" designation it deserves to push the seiners outside 50 miles. People come to Cabo to compete, to have fun, but they'd like a chance to pull on some fish.

It's just good business, and tourism is the best business of all.

Pat McDonell is director of the Cabo Tuna Jackpot and editor of Western Outdoor News.