One of the oldest fishing clubs in the nation captures the history of anglers and of natural resources.
Founded in 1934, the West Palm Beach Fishing Club is among the oldest and most successful sport fishing clubs anywhere. Many fishing organizations once dotted the East Coast, from Maine to Texas, but have disappeared over time. The WPBFC, however, is stronger and more active throughout the community than ever. The club’s close proximity to the Gulf Stream provides its more than 1,400 members with incredible fishing opportunities.
Throughout its fabled history, the WPBFC has been home to many renowned anglers and has seen some spectacular catches. Stepping into the historic clubhouse in downtown West Palm Beach is like stepping back in time. This little piece of old Florida is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and at its heart is the All Time Club Records board. Names like Emil Rybovich still remain on the board to this day. Several records date back to the 1950s and ’60s for species like kingfish, yellowfin tuna, crevalle jack, snook, and trout.
The records tell a story of the fishery and what was being caught. Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to land a 13-pound, 4-ounce trout from the inshore waters of the Palm Beaches/Lake Worth Lagoon like WPBFC member Bob Newkirk did in 1962. This paints a picture of a resource that was once more conducive to landing trophy fish, as the estuary was lush with seagrass habitat back then.
One of the oldest records on the board is a 173-pound yellowfin tuna caught in 1949 off Palm Beach by club member Ted Basset. Anglers at the time weren’t set up with the rigs and outfits we use to fight fish today, which makes their accomplishments even more impressive. But even though how we fish has changed, the awe of landing a big one still drives anglers to target records.
As with IGFA World Records, submissions for WPBFC records must include a sample of line for electronic testing. The line is wet tested, and a 10% overage of the manufacturer’s stated line test is allowed. For this reason, using “tournament” grade monofilament is crucial for individuals targeting club and world records on a certain line class. Additionally, all submissions have to be weighed on a scale certified by the club or an approved agency, like the IGFA or an area tackle shop, and the weigh-in must be witnessed.
TOM “BUZZ” BZURA IS THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE WEST PALM BEACH FISHING CLUB.