I fancy myself somewhat of a fishing history buff and am always on the prowl for old books on the subject. But not long ago I found a new book on a long-gone fishery over at the Fishing For History blog. Written by Mark Ross and published in the U.K., “The Glory Days of the Giant Scarborough Tunny” is easily one of the most thorough and interesting accounts of big-game fishing’s past I’ve ever read.
From the 1930s through early 1950s, bluefin “tunny” weighing up to 1,300 pounds made epic showings every summer in the North Sea. Though during the Great Depression, Britain’s more affluent residents flocked to Scarborough to partake in this exciting new sport. It spawned major advances in big-game fishing tackle and the development of the renowned Scarborough Tunny Club. Unfortunately, due to overfishing and lack of herring, the bluefin scene pretty much died by the mid-50s.
Tuna of this size still exist today, but not nearly in the numbers these anglers saw in the 30s. It amazes me that these giants could be bested from row boats with bamboo rods, yet today’s most advanced tackle often fails to beat a monster bluefin. The real irony is that these fish were simply canned like “Chicken of the Sea,” practically worthless on the market. Today, one tuna pictured above could fetch upwards of $20,000. Click here or on the photo to check out more shots from the book, including early Hardy tunny reels and lures.
If you’re a collector of historical fish lit, I highly recommend “The Glory Days of the Giant Scarborough Tunny.” Its 390 hard-bound pages are loaded with vintage photos. You can order it here. – JC