San Diego Sportfishing History

San Diego was once known as the Tuna Capital of the World. At its peak in the early 1970s, the harbor was packed with gargantuan tuna boats, some with helicopters on the top deck for spotting fish. Every major cannery, including Bumble Bee, was based here. The industry employed over 4,000 people, the city’s third-largest employer behind the Navy and aerospace.

The history of sportfishing in Southern California traces back even further to Catalina Island and Dr. Charles Fredrick Holder, with his catch of a “leaping tuna” on Catalina Island on June 1, 1898. This was the first tuna in recorded history ever caught on rod and reel. The catch inspired Holder to start the Tuna Club, which is the oldest fishing club in the U.S.

Word spread and sportfishing landings began to spring up to meet the demand, barges were anchored off the piers and people flocked to the coast to the California coast t fish. Offshore sportfishing as the world knows it today was born right here in Southern California.

In the early 1900s, a new type of sportfishing boat began to appear on the San Diego waterfront: the powerboat. These sportfishing boats were faster and had more range than early sportfishing pangas, making them ideal for long range fishing trips. Powerboats quickly became the preferred choice for anglers seeking to test themselves against the biggest and best fish in the ocean off San Diego.