Hawaii Big Game Fishing Club
History: The Early Days
The first American angler reported to have fished here was one W.C. Bradbury, a prominent member of The Tuna Club of Catalina Island, America's first big-game fishing club. Bradbury apparently traveled to Hawaii from California in 1914 to verify reports of plentiful schools of yellowfin tuna and monstrous "swordfish" (which is what California anglers called marlin in those days).
On the Big Island, Bradbury confirmed the reports that drew him to Hawaii, and realized the fishing opportunities were even greater than he had anticipated. For that reason, he helped local anglers in Hilo to found the Hawaii Tuna Club, which was later renamed the Hawaii Big Game Fishing Club.
Within two years of Bradbury's first visit, the Tuna Club of Catalina Island archives note that a "proper game-fishing launch" was dispatched to Hawaii from California. The boat first went into service for visiting sportsmen at the Haleiwa Hotel on the north shore of Oahu.
A report published in 1916 noted that James. W. Jump and Fred K. Burnham from California, fishing with Gerrit P. Wilder, the first President of the Hawaii Tuna Club and the organization's Secretary, H. Gooding Field, caught 2 yellowfin tuna, an albacore, 3 mahimahi, 7 ono, 7 ulua, a barracuda and several smaller tuna, off Kihei, Maui, where "a club house and hotel accommodation have been provided for anglers."
"Under the auspices of the Hawaii Tuna Club, fishing competitions are held throughout the year for which Club Buttons and prizes are awarded. Several prominent mainland anglers during the past year have won the coveted buttons," Field reported in the same publication.
Hawaii's stature as a sport-fishing destination grew steadily in the years before World War II. Fishing legends of the time like S. Kip Farrington stopped through the islands and fished with members of the Hawaii Tuna Club in the 1930s. Farrington later reported his positive impressions in his book "Pacific Game Fishing."
"More than 10 different varieties of major game fish are caught on the grounds off these islands and in the channels between them at various times of year," Farrington wrote. "The water is exceptionally deep, very beautiful in color and warm, and there are always plenty of birds to lead you to the fish. The two major areas, Waianae, which is about a 50-minute ride by motor from Honolulu, and the grounds off the Kona coast at Kailua on the island of Hawaii, usually have very calm water."