History of Sportfishing

Since the beginning of time man has fished to provide food for survival.

Over the decades fishing has woven itself into the very fabric of our souls and is as much a part of America as baseball, apple pie and the 4th of July. 

This is the story of how the sport of fishing was born.

About the Project

We are creating a 9-part television series on the history of sportfishing, produced in the spirt and style of award-winning documentary film makers, Ken Burns and Bruce Brown, 

This project will enable us to preserve decaying old home movies, 8mm, 16mm and 35mm fishing films that have been passed down from generations before us.  Some of these films are nearly 100-years old.  But they are turning to dust in the archives because time has caused the celluloid filament to dry out.  The stock is becoming so brittle that unless these historic films are not digitized soon, they will be lost forever.  Once digitized, copies will be entrusted for safe keeping to the International Game Fish Association.   

For full project details on the History of Sportfishing - click here  

About the Producer/Director  - Michael Fowlkes

The founder of the award-winning television series, Inside Sportfishing, Michael has fished his entire life.  Shown above in 1959 with a few bonita he caught, before filleting every fish and selling them around the neighborhood for .25 cents.  Michael began working onboard The Westerner when he was only nine years old.

Transitioning to decking on the San Diego based overnight boats in the early 1970s, he earned his U.S. Coast Guard operator’s license, bought his first charter boat and began running charters with his wife Kimberly.

In 1980 he began producing television specials for Showtime/The Movie Channel, National Geographic, Disney, Discovery and ABC, delivering a number of ACE Award-winning programs with Coach Pete Carrol, NFL/ MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, Howie Mandel, and Gallagher. 

Michael launched Inside Sportfishing, in 1989, which became the highest-rated, longest-running fishing show in Fox Sports West history, earning 27 Telly Awards, and voted Best Fishing Show of the Year by the Outdoor Writers Association. 


"Southern California has a rich and unique history, from the founding of Avalon Tuna Club in 1898 to the innovation of kite fishing (pictured above) and the vast long-range tuna fleet. Nobody captures that history and spirit better than Michael Fowlkes. He brings it to life in this new series, with images and footage spanning over a hundred years, and interviews with the real pioneers. Whether you are an angler or a history buff you will love this passionate project."  Dave Pfeiffer, President/ Shimano America

"Michael Fowlkes has been a staple in our industry since my childhood, and I’m thrilled that he’s capturing the history of sportfishing with his unique style as a filmmaker. There is no one in the world more qualified to tell this important story."  Bill DePriest, Publisher/Editor Pacific Coast Sportfishing Magazine

"No one has more experience or is better qualified to tell this story than Michael Fowlkes.  All of us here at Fred Hall are proud to be contributing to make it happen. This is a huge win for the sportfishing industry.”  Mike Lum, General Manager/ Fred Hall Shows, Inc

 “Michael is certainly the man to tell this amazing story.  One of his early works, Tribute to Tuna (pictured below) is a classic in the fishing world.  He’s amassed an extensive collection of footage from the early days of fishing, and when you add that to decades of Inside Sportfishing footage he’s shot, you are looking at a rare collection that needs to be documented and shared for future generations.”  Pete Gray, President/Let’s Talk Hook-up 

How You Can Help

To help launch this series, we are seeking financial support to complete the following tasks:

1.  Digitize thousands of feet of film and hundreds of photos that we’ve collected over the years to create a historical record the sport's legacy. If we don't save these old films they will be lost forever.

2. Once the old films have been digitized, we will begin production on The History of Sportfishing.  The series will include the following chapters:

Chapter 1 - The Birth of Big-game Fishing 
Chapter 2 -  Birth of Bass Fishing
Chapter 3 -  Birth of Fly Fishing
Chapter 4 -  Evolution of Rods, Reels and Line
Chapter 5 -  Evolution of Fishing Boats, Motors and Electronics
Chapter 6 – Spirit of Competition - Freshwater
Chapter 7 – Spirit of Competition – Saltwater
Chapter 8 – Women in Sportfishing
Chapter 9 - The Future of Sportfishing – Conservation

"As many of you know, I've been blessed to make a living filming the sport I love so much.  I am humbled and honored to have been entrusted with such significant and historically important work.   The fate of much of fishing’s historical footage hangs in the balance.  Every single donation, no matter how small or large, will make a difference.  By working together, we can save these old films and pass along the passion we all share for fishing to generations to come."  

Thank you for your consideration and support.
Michael Fowlkes

For full project details on the History of Sportfishing - click here

Donations (65)

  • Charles Baird
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • James Breckenridge
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Donna Kalez
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Daniel Flores
    • $50 
    • 3 yrs
  • Geir Last
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs


Michael Fowlkes
Laguna Beach, CA

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