history
About the Club

The History of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club

Ted WilliamsThe venerable West Palm Beach Fishing Club (WPBFC) is unique. Just ask someone who has been an active member for a number of years, and they'll tell you why this organization is so special.  Some even go so far as to say that the WPBFC is the most admired institution of its kind.  One thing is for sure; you’d be hard pressed to find another fishing club with such a fabled history, or one that is more active.

Founded in 1934, the WPBFC is among the oldest and most successful sport fishing clubs anywhere.  Current membership is nearly 1,400. Our membership is quite diverse and includes fishing families, kids and women, all with varied levels of angling experience from novice anglers to seasoned tournament pros and guides. 

From the club’s inception, the WPBFC has played a leadership role in conservation, innovation and education.  In 1938, the club was the first to develop and promote the use of red release pennants as an alternative to bringing sailfish back to the dock.   In the 1940’s it successfully lobbied for the establishment of game fish status for largemouth bass in Florida. In the 1950’s the club supported the then radical concept of a saltwater fishing license to help protect marine resources and was responsible for creating the first officially permitted artificial reef in the state of Florida in the 1960's.  The WPBFC helped permanently establish the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (then Department of Natural Resources) East Coast Marine Laboratory in the 1970's and aided scientists with sailfish, kingfish, swordfish and snook research into the 1980's.  During the 1990’s we helped win support for the reconstruction of the Juno Beach Pier to replace the old pier, which had been destroyed in 1984.  

Ted WilliamsThroughout its history the WPBFC has closely cooperated with state and county leaders in efforts to protect and enhance coastal habitat in Palm Beach County, especially the Lake Worth Lagoon.  Along with its charitable affiliate, the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, the club has helped reestablish sea grasses, mangroves and oysters throughout the lagoon to help increase its biological carrying capacity.  We like to say, “More Habitat, More Fish,” a message we teach during our annual Kids Fishing Day program. According to one past fishery specialist with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, this outreach program is the most highly regarded event of its kind and “serves as a template for other youth fishing programs in the rest of the United States.”  To date, well over 10,000 kids have benefited from our community based environmental education and fishing adventure program.

Dozens of annual fishing events and programs are other highlights of the WPBFC. Club organized outings to the Bahamas, Boca Grande and Everglades National Park are extremely popular with members.  The club's annual Silver Sailfish Derby is the oldest continually running billfish release tournament in the world. Even famous American author Ernest Hemingway once sponsored a trophy in this storied event rich in angling tradition and prestige. The club’s annual Palm Beach County KDW Classic draws well over 200 boats. Many members also compete annually in the club's Summer and Winter Fishing Contests, as well as yearlong trophy competitions.

Monthly club meetings at the WPBFC’s historic clubhouse are another benefit of membership.  Well known anglers and captains regularly visit to discuss the “How To's” and “Where To's” of saltwater fishing.  A visit to the club quickly reveals what this unique institution is all about. The clubhouse is located on the corner of 5th Street and North Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach.  Even if you don't fish, our nostalgic facility is worth visiting. In fact, the building is on the City's Register of Historic Places. The club’s fascinating history has been chronicled in the prized book, The West Palm Beach Fishing Club: A 75 Year History by angling historian Mike Rivkin and is available to interested parties.

The WPBFC is a very special place indeed and you’d enjoy being a member.  We invite you to take a closer look!

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