C.M. Rip Cunningham


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2015 Inductee

The name Rip Cunningham has been synonymous with Salt Water Sportsman magazine for over three decades. He joined the magazine staff in 1973 and in the coming years would serve as Editor, Editor-in-Chief, and Publisher. Along with his business partner, Edward “Spider” Andresen, Cunningham went on to own the magazine and the two were responsible for building the publication into the premier recreational salt water fishing magazine that it is known as today. He sold the magazine to Time Mirror Company in 1988, but continues his involvement to this day, currently serving as Conservation Editor. Through his positions at Salt Water Sportsman, Rip not only educated anglers on the finer points of fishing techniques, top destinations and the latest products; he also focused on the importance of responsible fishing practices and the latest conservation news.

An avid angler in his own right, Rip has landed over 1,000 Atlantic salmon, 500 steelhead, and 500 tarpon- all on the fly. One of his most memorable catches was a 1,115 lb. bluefin tuna caught off of Prince Edward Island, Canada on September 18, 1985 with Captain Eric Poole. On December 17, 1977 in Islamorada, Florida, Cunningham broke the IGFA 16 lb. tippet world record on fly rod for blackfin tuna. The tuna weighed in at 34 lbs 3 oz and Cunningham’s record still stands today.

Rip is a firm believer in giving back to the sport that has given him so much and he has extensive experience in fisheries management. He has served 19 years on the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Commission, including five as Chairman, and has served nine years on the New England Fishery Management Council, with seven of those as Chairman or Vice Chairman. He has also served on the Boards of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, Atlantic Salmon Federation, and American Sportfishing Association. On behalf of the interests of both anglers and the fish they target, Cunningham has testified at numerous U.S. Senate and House hearings on fisheries management issues. He has served on the IGFA’s International Committee of Representatives since 1982.

In recognition for his commitment to responsible fishing practices and conservation efforts, Rip has been awarded with numerous honors. He received the IGFA Conservation Award in 1994 and the Aldo Leopold Conservation Award from the Federation of Fly Fishers in 2006. In 2014, he was presented with The Billfish Foundation’s prestigious Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award. For his writing prowess, Cunningham has received several awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

 “I’ve earned a living from fishing, and I believe strongly that people with an interest in a given area should give something back,” says Rip. He has certainly given back to the sport fishing community. For his many contributions to the sport of recreational angling and fisheries conservation, the IGFA celebrates C.M. “Rip” Cunningham.