Tim Choate

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Tim Choate1948-
2016 Inductee

An ardent angler, entrepreneur and conservationist, Tim Choate has made numerous contributions to the sport of big game fishing. Born to a Hollywood actress and a successful New York businessman, Choate fell in love with fishing when his mother moved the two of them down to the Florida Keys in the mid-1950s. It was an ideal childhood for the budding outdoorsman. Well-known fishermen such as Capt. Dick Williams and guides Cecil Keith and Ellis Shires saw to Tim’s angling education early on; but it was Capt. Buck Stark who introduced him to the joys of offshore fishing.  During his teen years, the pair traveled throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, fishing for marlin and sailfish. It was in Bimini in 1962 that Choate caught his first blue marlin.

Amid his fishing adventures, Tim found time to earn his law degree from the University of Miami in 1973- but it didn’t slow him down.  He fished for five seasons on the Great Barrier Reef, where he and Capt. Peter B. Wright caught the largest black marlin of the season in 1982, weighing in at 1,212 pounds. While in Australia, Choate gained a reputation for partying just as hard as he fished. “Always remember,” he said, “that the size of the fish you catch is directly proportionate to the amount of booze you consume while angling.”

Tim soon found his way aboard Hank and Gretchen Manley’s Escapade as their second mate with Capt. Mike Aman and Chester Jenkins. They planned a one year odyssey with the goal to catch 1,000 billfish during their travels from West Palm Beach, FL to Venezuela and back. During the first ten months of 1983, the team had nine grand slams and the first back-to-back super grand slams. In 115 fishing days, they released a remarkable 1,108 billfish.

It was around this same time that Tim acquired Striker Yachts, which would spur the creation of his Artmarina subsidiary. He soon got to work managing numerous charter fishing operations and lodges throughout Central and South America, the most famous of which was Fins n’ Feathers lodge that he opened in Guatemala in 1993. He was responsible for putting many now famous fishing destinations on the map of traveling anglers. And the fishing was hot. His boat Magic in Costa Rica eclipsed the record set by the Escapade back in 1983 when she caught 1,414 billfish in 1991. In 1995, she would go on to release an amazing 2,140 fish.

Choate has been instrumental in numerous conservation efforts. Along with Win Rockefeller, he was a co-founder of The Billfish Foundation and served as its first Director. He pioneered the use of circle hooks to enhance the survival rates of released billfish, well before their successful catch rates were proven, and has been a champion for their use all over the world. Choate also helped to highlight the importance of socioeconomic studies by governments and conservation groups to validate the correlation between sport fishing and tourism- noting the value of fish for recreation over commercial use.

In 2012, Choate was awarded the prestigious Frank Johnson Trophy for Personal Achievement in the Advancement of Big Game Sport Fishing by Guy Harvey Outpost. In 2013, he was the recipient of the IGFA Conservation Award for his integral role in the passage of The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012, outlawing the commercial sale of marlin and other billfish in the continental United States. He also serves as the Chairman of Wild Oceans, the oldest saltwater fish conservation group in the US.  Says fellow IGFA Hall of Fame member Dr. Guy Harvey, “Every marlin angler today owes a debt of gratitude to Tim for his tireless work to protect billfish from irresponsible fishing practices.”  For his unrivaled passion for the sport and his steadfast commitment to conservation, the IGFA celebrates Tim Choate.