BY RICH HOLLAND
CABO SAN LUCAS — Even though it was one of the toughest first days of fishing in recent WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot history, you had to believe that with 149 boats carrying some of the best skippers in all of the Los Cabos and East Cape fisheries, big fish would be found and a chunk of the jackpot cash claimed in the 2020 WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot.
That turned out to be the case in every category except dorado, as hundreds of thousands of dollars were won by the combined efforts of teams aboard the Curandero, Adriana, Second Wind and Burro.
Actually the first big money winner was sitting next to the dock in a fish bag aboard the Curandero, the members of the Reel Hookers team waiting patiently for the scales to open at 3 p.m. Cabo time.
Early estimates were the fish weighed 130 pounds but when they actually unloaded the fish the team started to get higher hopes and said they thought it was pushing 200 pounds. In fact Don Jenkins yellowfin tuna pushed right on past that to 202 pounds. Reel Hookers chose to fish only the $5000 jackpot, a strategic move for the highest payout per investment. The move paid off in a solid $84,000 return and the lead in the Tuna Jackpot Championship, which pays another $61,625 to the Championship Team.
The pace kept right up when not long after that the first wahoo of the day came to the scales, a 33.5-pound wahoo landed by Craig Cunningham on the Adriana. Just that fast the bar was set with a qualifying fish over 30 pounds in the Wahoo Daily Jackpot.
A half-dozen anglers from the pool of 119 teams in the Wahoo Jackpot would subsequently come to the scales with wahoo as the afternoon wore on. They were beautiful fish, too, and must have looked even bigger in the water with all that money on the line. Yet they all ranged from 27 to 29 pounds and Cunningham’s 33.5 earned the daily pot of $47,600.
A dorado was also in the batch of early fish weighed in. Joe Elliott on the Yahoo weighed a 20.1-pound bull that certainly looked cash worthy, yet did not meet the 30-pound minimum. Tournament director Pat McDonell asked Elliott if he thought a 30 pounder would make it to the scale.
“There’s a whole lot of dorado up there and it seemed like every boat in the tournament was fishing that area, so probably,” said Elliott. In fact there are 132 teams in Dorado Daily and the $52,800 in Thursday’s jackpot rolled over to today’s final day of fishing — that’s right, nobody else even got close — and you should have seen the cloud of diesel those boats left behind this morning when they burned around the Cape and up the Pacific.
You can’t blame them. The minimum for dorado was dropped to 20 pounds and the total payout for a dodo over 20 pounds will be $105,600.
Back to yesterday, there was still plenty of cash to claim on the tuna side of things and all it takes is a 30-pound fish. Well past the 4 p.m. lines out with the sun setting behind the Pedregal the scales came to life. The 32.9 pound tuna Evan Salvay of the Stella June didn’t look very big, but for a brief moment it was worth $51,000.
The Second Wind was right behind with another smallish tuna, yet as he departed the scale Salvay knew he was beat. “That one’s bigger,” he said, then congratulated the other team on their catch.
Team Second Wind’s 40.5-pound yellowfin would hold on to win the 51 grand. That’s because when the Burro brought their 175.5-pound tuna to the scales, the only daily jackpot they had not entered was the $20,000.
Obviously they couldn’t lay claim to the Reel Hookers team’s $5000 daily either, yet they swept all the other dailes from $500 to $10,000 and earned a check for a whopping $254,200!
Not a bad start after all. The weighin today (Friday, Nov. 6) will be streamed live on the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Facebook page.