CATALINA ISLAND-There is one person anglers have to thank for their tuna fishing tricks today, and that man is Capt. George Farnsworth.
Captain George Farnsworth, also known as “Tuna George,” is the man responsible for the most successful version of tuna fishing today.
Farnsworth is recognized as the most innovative pioneer of big game angling when he developed the kite trolling technique to hunt bluefin tuna. As a result, he helped many Catalina Tuna Club members reach a record number of tuna catches. The kite was used to troll the bait- a flying fish- away from the boat as not to spook the tuna, a problem that was often encountered when fishing with rod and reel.
This Connecticut-born charter captain was born in 1883 and moved with his family to California in 1887, when his father, Samuel Stephen Farnsworth, found work on the west coast. Shortly after, Farnsworth senior moved the family to Catalina Island, where they found residence in Avalon while Farnsworth senior began to work surveying the road from Avalon to Two Harbors.
Farnsworth’s also developed the star drag reel with partner William Boschen, which was later manufactured by Edward vom Hofe. It was Farnsworth’s kite reeled bait that led Boschen to be the first-ever to catch a broadbill swordfish with a rod and reel. Farnsworth was also the captain when J.A. Cox landed the first-ever marlin swordfish taken on regulation light tackle.
The way the kite trolling technique works is the angler puts the kite in the air, with about 200 feet of kite line and fishing line, a cord is tied between the kite line and wire leader, and this will break when a fish hits the hook, freeing the fishing line and allowing the kite to be brought in. The kite can be used to work the bait to mimic a lifelike action of a flying fish, and with practice, the fish could be made to skip and jump as if attempting to escape. Sometimes three or four tunas will go for the bait, which often happened when Farnsworth was on the water.
Farnsworth was voted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame in 1998 as “one of the most innovative pioneers of big game angling” but died in 1959 in San Francisco at the age of 76.