Byline: Taylor Hill
SAN DIEGO — Despite a smattering of rain, there was a big turnout April 26 for the unveiling of “Sportfishing Legacy.” The public art piece was erected in San Diego’s America’s Cup Harbor, the focal point of sportfishing in the region.
The work aims to commemorate San Diego’s sportfishing history and influence, along with keeping alive the memory of one of its original pioneers, Bill Poole.
“It is for the entire sportfishing industry, not just Bill Poole,” said Ingrid Poole, his widow, who was one of the speakers during the ceremony. “He represents the entire industry for all that he and others have done to make the San Diego fleet the finest of its kind in the world.”
The event was attended by current captains in the fleet, along with many other sportfishing industry representatives. Port of San Diego chairman Lou Smith, Ingrid Poole and Sportfishing Association of California president Ken Franke led the 10 a.m. ceremony.
“San Diego Bay is home to one of the largest and most modernized sportfishing industries in the world,” Smith said. “The artwork not only enhances the area, but commemorates the leadership of Bill Poole and the many sportfishing vessel captains who have championed this business for decades.”
With a bronze bust of Poole leaning atop a rocky seamount, the artwork also includes metal silhouettes of tuna and yellowtail, along with the names of many of the area’s sportfishing vessels and the names of popular fishing grounds that Poole explored during his years on the water.
The artwork was created by Bill Watts, an artist and architect; and Craig Hill, a former display curator for SeaWorld. The construction of the sculpture was a collaborative effort between Hankins Corp., Windward Design and Craig Hill Studios. Poole, who died in October 2009, built and designed more than 27 fishing vessels in his career, as owner of Poole Boat Co. Many of the area’s charter fishing vessels in use today were designed by Poole — including Royal Polaris, Red Rooster III, American Angler and Royal Star.
Bill designed the newest and largest long-range sportfishing vessels that ranged as far as 1,200 miles from San Diego in search of trophy yellowfin tuna,” Franke said. “Passengers have visited San Diego in the millions to board these boats to take long-range sportfishing trips through the eastern Pacific Ocean.”
Franke grew up fishing on many of the boats designed and built by Poole, and ended up working on some of them as a deckhand. He eventually worked his way to owning his own sportfishing vessel. His boat, the 65-foot Outer Limits, is docked at Mission Bay’s Seaforth Sportfishing Landing, which was owned by Poole.
“The memorial dedication was a landmark day for the sportfishing industry in the region, because it gave permanence to the long history associated with sportfishing in San Diego — which is largest sportfishing industry in the world.”
The project was funded by the area’s three sportfishing tenants: H&M Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing and Fisherman’s Landing. All three sportfishing companies underwent a major redevelopment project completed in 2010 that included the rebuilding of Fisherman’s Landing and improvements to H&M Landing and Point Loma Sportfishing.
The project also enhanced the public area connecting the three businesses with a new, widened public promenade — and the public artwork. The total cost for the redevelopment project was $3.5 million.
Under the Port of San Diego’s tenant Percent-for-Art policy, port tenants are required to allocate one percent of total project cost toward public artwork. The cost for the “Sportfishing Legacy” artwork was $93,800.
Poole has recently been selected for induction into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame for his contributions to recreational sportfishing, earning him a place among such fishing legends as Zane Grey, Ernest Hemingway and Ted Williams.
In addition to owning Poole Boat Co., Poole co-owned and developed Fisherman’s Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing, Seaforth Sportfishing and Marina, Marina Cortez and High Seas Fuel and Marina Enterprises.