Catalina Island News

The Birth of Sportfishing on Catalina Island

Catalina Island Museum

This summer the Catalina Island Museum plans to highlight the Island's illustrious history of sportfishing in a special exhibition titled "The Birth of Sportfishing".  Marine life has always been found in abundance off the shores of Catalina Island and when Avalon was first developed as a resort community, fishing became a favorite pastime of many visitors.

Many of the early fishermen used heavy lines and could catch many fish in a day.  One famous albacore catch took place in 1902 with 20 fishermen catching hundreds of fish within three hours and, unfortunately at the time, albacore was not considered edible so the fish were all thrown to the seals.  It was such instances that prompted the formation of the Tuna Club.  The Tuna Club was established after the arrival of Charles Frederick Holder on Catalina Island in 1898.  Charles Holder was the first to introduce the use of a rod and reel in big game fishing on Catalina Island.  He promoted conservation of marine life and the introduction of the rod and reel which gave fish a fighting chance, making it more of a sport.
Once the rod and reel was established on Catalina Island, fishing for sport flourished.  Many boatmen opened for business offering charters to go out and catch elusive game fish.  The Island had many different species of large fish, including Blue Fin Tuna, Striped Marlin, Broadbill Swordfish, Albacore, Yellowtail, White Sea Bass and Black Sea Bass.   The black sea bass are now on the endangered species list and only a few are spotted around the Island each year.  Today, the Tuna Club remains one of the most prestigious sportfishing clubs in the world and many of its rules and regulations have been adopted by the United States Department of Fish and Game.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Tuna Club Foundation.  It will feature several sportfishing artifacts including mounted game fish, a historic sportfishing chair, rods, reels and lures, and many photographs documenting Catalina's historic fish catches.  The exhibit will also include a video station with historic and contemporary sportfishing footage and an interactive component for kids of all ages.  The exhibition will open on July 4, 2008 and will remain on display at the Museum through January 4, 2009.  For more information, call (310) 510-2414 or visit our website.