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Long-range fishing pioneer and legendary figure Bill Poole has died

October 22, 2009 | 11:50 am


Bill Poole, one of the leading pioneers of San Diego's sportfishing industry and a legendary figure in the saltwater fishing community, died Wednesday night after a lengthy bout with lung cancer. He was 87.

Poole, a prolific boat builder and iconic captain, started with a barge after World War II and either built or had a hand in the construction of many of the San Diego-based long-range vessels that comprise the world's largest and most sophisticated sportfishing fleet.

Among those still operating are the Royal Polaris, Polaris Supreme, Holiday, American Angler, Searcher and the Royal Star.

Poole, who was actively fishing last year, was famously quoted as saying, "It doesn't matter how much money you make, how many cars you drive or how expensive your house is -- when you step onto a boat to fish, the fish don't give a damn."

His passing leaves a deep void in the Southern California saltwater fishing community and especially in San Diego.

Said Bob Fletcher, a former captain and longtime president of the Sportfishing Assn. of California: "We lost one of the real monster pioneers in sportfishing last night. I've known him for most of my life and nobody else had that kind of impact on our industry."

Poole co-owned Fisherman's Landing, from where many of the vessels he built still run. Paul Morris, general manager of the landing, added: "I've worked with him for 42 years and he was like a father to me. He was one of  these guys who would talk to the employees like they were one of the guys. He treated them like they were part of the group."

A memorial service for Poole is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 25.

-- Pete Thomas