Peter B. Wright


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Peter B. Wright1944 –
2007 Inductee

Peter B. Wright is a world-renowned angler, captain, journalist, scientist, conservationist, and consultant.  And he’s made a living as a model, marine biologist, mortgage banker, high school teacher, and real estate developer.   But he is best known for his ability to catch big fish, for he is the man who has caught more marlin over 1,000 pounds than anyone in history.  In a career spanning five decades Wright has captured 77 granders and released countless others.  Included in that elite group are a 1,442-pound black marlin from 1973 that remains the largest ever weighed in Australia, and the IGFA women’s 80-pound black marlin record of 1,323 pounds, still standing after 30 years.  Wright set a Bahamas bluefin tuna record of 972 pounds, and in 1995 guided Stewart Campbell to 73 bluefin that were tagged and released off Cape Hatteras, the most in a single day.Born in Paterson, NJ, Peter grew up in Fort Lauderdale, and while still in grade school began working on charter boats out of Hillsboro Inlet.  At the age of 11 he gaffed his first blue marlin; by the next year he was fishing with noted Captain Johnny Whitmer.  Throughout high school and college he spent summers and weekends on the Miss Jeanne, fishing Bimini and Cat Cay tournaments with great success.  In 1965 Peter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in biology (and second-place in springboard in the SEC championship).  Two years into his graduate work at the University of Miami’s Institute of Marine Science he joined Dr. Gilbert Voss’ Antarctic Research Program and spent two months collecting squid and octopus specimens.  While awaiting his return trip stateside, Peter traveled the South Pacific.  Sixteen months later he was still there.  In Sydney, Australia he found modeling work, and then hitchhiked 1,000 miles to Cairns, home of former Fort Lauderdale skipper George Bransford.  Bransford needed a mate for his new boat and Peter, hoping to get a glimpse of a thousand-pound marlin, signed on, spending the first few months assisting with the boat’s construction.  Sea Baby II’s first big fish in 1968 – and Peter’s first big black marlin ever – weighed 879 pounds, and that year he wired and gaffed two granders.    Since 1968 Wright has fished every season in Cairns.  He started out crewing, earning a reputation as one of the most skillful wiremen in the world.  In 1970 he had the chance to captain, and from the start he had a huge advantage over local skippers.  They had not fished for giant bluefin in the Bahamas during the sport’s heyday.  Wright had, and it taught him invaluable heavy-tackle and boat-handling skills.  He ran the first boat in Cairns to have a tuna tower, transom door, two-speed Fin-Nor reels and curved-butt rods.  His tackle and techniques weren’t new; Peter simply borrowed them from the only other fishery that had needed them.   Sea Baby II, Kingfish, Hooker, Restless, Makaira and Duyfken are just some of the famous boats identified with Peter B. Wright.  In 1975 he went to Kona, and together with Jeff Fay operated the Humdinger for five years.  When Wright found his dead baits weren’t faring well against Hawaiian lures, he began fast trolling using baits soaked in formaldehyde.  The Humdinger immediately became competitive, and further design modifications led to soft trolling lures and to Mold Craft’s “Softhead” series. From his science training, time on the water, and constant research, Peter Wright has accumulated an astonishing amount of knowledge that he’s always willing to share.  For more than 13 years he wrote the “Sportfishing” column for Motor Boating and Sailing magazine, and since 2002 has been editor-at-large forMarlin.  He’s passionate about billfish and tuna management and tag-and-release, and was instrumental in the implementation of archival pop-off tags and circle hooks.  He is a recipient of IGFA’s Gil Keech Heavy Tackle Award and in September 2007 was inducted into the Cairns Black Marlin Hall of Fame.  When asked about retirement, Peter insists it won’t happen until he ”falls dead out of the tuna tower”.  He plans to continue to “seize the day” and do the things he does best:  sharing his wisdom and guiding anglers to the fish of their dreams.  In recognition of his remarkable achievements and a life dedicated to angling, IGFA is proud to add the name of Peter B. Wright to the Fishing Hall of Fame.