Deborah Dunaway

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Capt. Alan H. Anderson1951-
2016 Inductee

Together, Jerry and Deborah Dunaway traveled the world in their famous mothership operation, the Madam & the Hooker, in pursuit of big game sport fishing and adventure. In doing so, the Dunaways helped to pioneer many new fisheries and have had a resonating influence on sport fishing worldwide.

A self-made millionaire from Houston, Jerry began fishing offshore in 1969. He purchased his first big-game boat in 1979- a 53’ Hatteras. She would be the first of three legendary fishing boats to be called Hooker. In 1980, Jerry met Kent “Kunta” Smith in Freeport, Texas and asked him to ride along as a mate for an overnight trip to the oil rigs. Kunta agreed and, during a lull in the fishing, he caught a crevalle jack that he announced was about one pound shy of an IGFA world record. Jerry was intrigued and tried his own luck, catching a larger fish that was only about half a pound shy of the record. This introduction to world record fishing sparked something in Jerry and started the Dunaways on a journey that would span over 26 countries, many oceans, and a vast array of colorful characters.

In 1984, the Dunaways started construction on a custom 48’ G&S sportfisherman that was delivered the next year. The new Hooker traveled on her own to Venezuela, St. Thomas and Panama for the next 18 months. In 1986, they purchased a 110’ oil-supply boat for $100,000. Following an eight month refit to the tune of $1.2 million, the Madam was ready to join the Hooker and begin making history. With Captain Skip Smith, mate Trevor Cockle, second mate John Cochrane, and Anne Marie Cochrane (John’s wife) as hostess and cook, the Hooker outfit set out on a world-record tour on January 1, 1987.

Many records would follow, as well as a slew of top-notch captains and mates.  In his lifetime, Jerry caught an unbelievable 203 Atlantic blue marlin, 36 Pacific blue marlin, 96 black marlin, 10 swordfish, as well as untold numbers of sailfish, white marlin and striped marlin. He was the first man to have IGFA records for Atlantic blue marlin on 2 kg (4 lb) and 4 kg (8 lb) lines.

At a time when female anglers were often still relegated to the sidelines, Deborah Maddux Dunaway racked up an unprecedented 23 IGFA billfish records- more than any angler in history. To this day, she is still the only angler to have held IGFA records for all nine species of billfish. In 1993, she became the only person to hold current records in all nine species at the same time- a Billfish Royal Slam-, a feat that former IGFA President and fellow Hall of Famer Mike Leech ranks as “the most incredible fishing accomplishment of all time.”

Between them, Deborah and Jerry Dunaway amassed an amazing 49 IGFA world records- ten of which still stand today. They ran the first true mothership set-up as we know it, daring to stick a 48’ sport fisher on the back of a 110’ oil supply boat and take off around the world. They discovered new fisheries in exotic spots all across the globe. They assembled top-notch crews, who became like family and went on to become leaders in the sport fishing industry. They truly lived a lifetime in those thirty years on the water. For pioneering the world’s most famous mothership operation and for their incredible array of billfish world records, the IGFA celebrates Deborah and Jerry Dunaway.