New Century, Same Horizon: The Evolution of Big-Game Fishing in California’s Catalina Island

The history of big game fishing along the bay of California’s Catalina Island is nothing short of legendary. Known as the birthplace of big game fishing, anglers travel far and wide for the chance to tangle with trophy-sized yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, calico bass and numerous other species that swim beneath the island’s gleaming waters.

It is no wonder that big game fishing would first emerge out of this particular place – the island and the fish that surround it are the very picture of resilience, bounty, beauty and size. The fish outweigh, outsmart, and exceed the expectations of the world’s most experienced anglers.

The proud reputation of the location begs the question – who pioneered sport fishing in this unique place?

Big-game saltwater fishing was pioneered in 1898 by Charles Frederick Holder, who took a 183-pound (83-kg) bluefin tuna off Santa Catalina Island, located 22-miles off the coast of Southern California. A conservationist, naturalist, writer and angler, Holder, a resident of Pasadena, California, founded the Avalon Tuna Club on Catalina Bay, considered the first big-game saltwater fishing club. Little did he know, this would spark what can only be described as a fiery passion in the decades to come of big-game saltwater anglers who would follow in Holder’s footsteps.

Side by side with other iconic figures such as Earnest Hemmingway, Holder spent his life enjoying the fruits of Catalina Island’s largest and most spectacular fish and cataloguing the landscape in the eloquent prose which drove him to fame. To this day, anglers who read Holder’s words and gaze out into the roaring ocean remain certain that they hold true.

Pacific Son, a new film by Rapala®, explores the modern-day successors of the legacy that Holder ignited more than 120 years ago, as well as the passion for the land and the sport that anglers still hold today.

Just as the saltwater of Catalina Bay ran through the veins of Charles Holder in the nineteenth century, so too does it live in 21st-century tournament angler and fishing guide Captain Brandon Nelson, who operates Lucky B Sportfishing, and his first mate, Jack Smith.

Inexplicably called to the sea and the life that lies underneath Holder’s “restless waters,” Nelson spends nearly every day answering that call by fishing or boating in the Bay. His career is driven by his unapologetic passion for the sport and the land, which has earned him a spot on Sport Fishing Television and a reputation as one of the premier boat captains of Southern California. And for it all, he has Charles Frederick Holder to thank. –  Shop Now

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