We just saw the culmination of the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot with 150 teams of anglers participating for over 1 Million dollars in Cash prizes. This year was a tough year for everyone, but also for fishing tournaments. Still, organizers made it happen and successfully — and unlike the Bisbees Black and Blue where no qualifying fish were caught the Tuna Jackpot had quite a few Yellowfin Tuna weighed, but only three just over 200 lbs. The largest, winning the tournament, was a 210 lbs fish caught aboard Ole Ole with Captain Ernie Cosio, which took anglers 5 hours to fight. It was a great tournament, but when all was said and done, crew and anglers agreed it had been a tough one this year.
So what would happen in 2020 of course? A 310 lbs yellowfin Tuna landed only 3 days after the Tournament. Captain was Francisco Javier Castillo, known locally as “Gachi” and the catch was aboard his Super panga “Regina 2”, a 26 footer. Captain Gachi was born and raised near San Jose, in a little ranch called “El Zacaton” near Zacatitos area. He has been fishing professionally for 25 years now and come from a long line of well-respected fishermen in the area. Angler Mike Witoshynsky is from Florida, he landed the fish on the Outer Gordo Banks close to San Jose del Cabo.
Mike fought the fish standup, for an hour and half, even through very tough conditions. Captain Gachi said the wind was howling and it was rough, but Mike was not giving up.
But Mike hadn’t been targeting tuna actually. This was his third day fishing with Captain Gachi, and they hadn’t had much luck. Mike was looking to land a big Black Marlin, but day one only brought him a Dorado and day two a Wahoo that they lost. Day three they headed out early to the outer bank and caught a Dorado once again. They also caught a few skipjacks for bait. A small one got rigged up, live and slow trolled. After about an hour of working the spot, the reel screamed; the line tearing off the reel.
Captain Gachi knew that it was a Tuna as soon as it hit. He never saw the fish until they had it at the boat, but the way it took out line and by the fight it put up; he knew. Mike fought the fish standup, for an hour and half, even through very tough conditions. Captain Gachi said the wind was howling and it was rough, but Mike was not giving up. He reeled hard, using a Shimano Talica with 80# Line and 100# Flurocarbon leader.
“I never thought the fish was going to be that big. It’s the biggest tuna I’ve ever caught in my life”, the Captain said. I asked him how he felt when they got the Yellowfin in the boat. “I felt accomplished”, he said.
What did they do with all that fish? “I gave a piece to everyone that was on the dock, the fillet guys, kids, friends; I took some over to family members houses to share. And of course, we ate some last night. We made machaca and tuna burritos.”
Captain Gonzalo Castillo, Gachi’s nephew, who also fishes out of San Jose told me that he believed he had seen this same fish feeding out at the banks the days prior, and even during the tournament, but although they tried hard, they hadn’t gotten it to bite.
“We knew that whoever landed that fish would take the tournament. But it never happened.” Gonzalo said, “It was amazing to see, when the fish came up to eat it would leave a huge footprint in the water”. When I told Gachi this he said, “Yes, I heard a lot of the guys say that.”
“Do you think it was the same fish?”, I asked. ” I think there’s more!”
In any case, just two days after Gonzalo saw the monster fish, patience paid off… for his uncle. And Mike, the angler, is yet to catch his Black Marlin, so he’ll be out there tomorrow, once again.