The West Palm Beach Fishing Club: a 75-year History

By Mike Rivkin

A compelling story of early Florida Angling, its adventurous pioneers, & the iconic Club that came to personify the very best of on-the-water sportsmanship & resource advocacy. The club pioneered light-tackle angling, resource conservation, & tag-&-release. Color photos; 9x12 inches, 260 pgs.


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ISBN: 0-615-23699-5

EAN: 978-0-615-23699-5

Binding: Hardcover

Publish Date: 29/06/2009

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This is a story of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, one of the most celebrated organizations in all of sport. Founded in 1934 as a civic antidote to the Depression, the Club went on to pioneer such practices as light-tackle angling, resource conservation, & tag-&-release - all guiding principals of today's sportsmen.

The Club's own Silver Sailfish Derby (f. 1935) remains the longest-running billfish tournament in the world, & its classic Fifth & Flagler clubhouse has been a West Palm Beach landmark since 1941. There is simply no place else like it.

The West Palm Beach Fishing Club: A 75-Year History is a compelling story of early Florida Angling, its adventurous pioneers, & the iconic Club that came to personify the very best of on-the-water sportsmanship & resource advocacy.

Book excerpt:

"Within two years of the WPBFC's formation, the question of a clubhouse was already being addressed. The board of directors began to seek donation, & a special $25 lifetime membership was created as a means of accumulating funds towards the new building. By March of 1937, the effort was beginning to bear fruit. As he watched the process unfold, Club founder Zeke Cornelius had a specific plan in mind. He foresaw not only a clubhouse in the traditional sense but also a venue for an extensive marine museum. The Club had already been the recipient of numerous donations of mounted fish by sportsmen & taxidermists, so the basis for a great collection was already in place. Cornelius hoped that the Club's new home would eventually host an example of every type of local marine life.

The first formal mention of the clubhouse in the board minutes appeared in March of 1937, & it became a regular topic of conversation thereafter. One member volunteered the use of a building he owned in Ocala, but it was investigated & found unsuitable. Another suggested that the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) could provide some assistance. As late as June of 1939, there was still talk of WPA involvement but federal funds for such projects were getting increasingly scarce. Also about this time, a prime lot on the corner of North Flagler Drive & Fifth Street was identified as an ideal location. Local architects were solicited to submit sketches of what the finished building might look like on the site with a $25 prize going to the best rendering. By year's end there was a winner: Paul E. Koehler. In the meantime, budgets were drawn up, plans struck, & fundraising continued apace."
Book Highlights:

Meticulously researched & engagingly written, The West Palm Beach Fishing Club: A 75-Year History includeds more than 250 pages & features hundreds of heretofore unpublished images from the Club's extensive archives. It begins with the dawn of Florida angling more than a century ago & concludeds with a look at the people & practices that have earned the Club a worldwide following. Almost unique among such institutions, the West Palm Beach Fishing Club has always been open to the public & remains so to this day. Its vast contributions to the culture & development of West Palm Beach cannot be overstated.

All Chapters are profusively illustrated & include the following:

*Chapter 1: In the Beginning - the Florida East Coast Railway & the Palm Beaches of yore, early sailfishing, the Depression, & how a handful of "crackers" came together to form a civic booster club of lasting importance;

*Chapter 2: The Founding - a burst of enthusiasm, the unique workings of a public/private institution in the 1930s, meetings at the Royal Worth Hotel, contests, tournaments, & prizes; the value of media savvy in the days before television;

*Chapter 3: Silver Sailfish Derby - the conception, founding, & 70+ year highlights of one of the most celebrated billfish tournaments in the world;

*Chapter 4: A Clubhouse, A War - a new home sprouts in 1941, the people & the intrigues that made it happen, from angling to war & back, a struggle, & then a new beginning;

*Chapter 5: The Golden Years: 1950-1970 - two decades of magic, big names, big catches, Bounce Anderson's deft touch & a gal names Frances Doucet;

*Chapter 6: The Modern Era - distraction & then the recovery, the flowering of environmental advocacy, a change in command, new leadership & vision in a complex world;

*Chapter 7: Initiatives - Stock assessments & sailfish tagging, artificial reefs, conservations as a priority, a roster of hard-earned wins that have bettered the angling world;

*Chapter 8: People & Places - from Johnny Rybovich to John Jolley & many in between, the people whose commitment, heart, & loyalty have made the West Palm Beach Fishing Club what it is today.

Mike Rivkin
is a veteran offshore angler & Past President of the venerable Tuna Club of Santa Catalina Island. He is also an award-winning copywriter & has written extensively on the history of angling, including the widely acclaimed books Big-Game Fishing Headquarters: A History of the IGFA & Angling & War: The Collision of Big-Game Fishing & World War II. On the water, Mike has caught every type of marlin that swims, most notably a 1,226 lb black marlin taken off Australia in 1984. He lives in La Jolla, California with his wife & three children & plies the Pacific waters nearby on his boat, Silverfish.

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 12 × 9 × 1 in


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