Lisa Michelle Griffith refused to bait her own hook on her first fishing trip and these many years later she recalls that she was “squirmy” about it. Yet the early trips with her father and uncle, first to Lake Erie, the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes, and later to Canada Pigeon Lake in Ontario and to West Yellowstone where they fished streams and lakes, she fell in love with the outdoors and has fond memories of the beauty of the scenery. However, those early trips in freshwater weren’t enough to convince her that fishing was her passion.
Instead, she’s certain that her love of sportfishing was actually handed down from her grandfather, who clearly demonstrated his passion for all things “fishy.” Gar Griffith was an executive at Pflueger, a manufacturer of quality fishing reels and fishing tackle from 1881 until 1966 when they were acquired by the Shakespeare Company, another great American tackle manufacturer.
With freshwater as a prelude, her first trip in 2006 to Alaska’s Tanaku Lodge in Elfin Cove, Gulf of Alaska, where she targeted salmon, halibut and rockfish was the beginning of her passion for saltwater fishing.
With twinkling eyes, she described her first encounter with a BIG fish. Laughing, she recalled her frustration when she couldn’t catch her target – a Chinook salmon; she only managed to hook Coho, earning her the title of “Coho Queen,” amusingly bestowed by her family.
The following year while living in Southern California, she and her young son Aidan, ventured out on a San Diego half-day boat. This was to be a memorable trip – the first of many aboard various boats in the San Diego Sportfishing fleet.
That year in the fall, Griffith visited Rancho Leonero, a rustic fishing lodge near the tip of Baja, with her friend Kenny Pelant. Nestled on a bluff overlooking the glimmering, calm waters of the Sea of Cortez, the two were fascinated with the abundance of sport fish they found. Dorado were a delight with their acrobatics flashing blue, green and gold colors in the sun; yellowfin tuna swarmed everywhere with their in-the-water ballet performances and the odd-looking roosterfish with their unusual coloring and unique dorsal totally mesmerized them as they enjoyed the best of Baja.
Griffith returned to southern California even more in love with saltwater fishing, and vowed to devote more time on the water with Aidan. During his spring break, they took advantage of an early yellowtail bite at Coronado Islands, just below the border, and booked a spot on the San Diego which was filled to capacity. The two stared in disbelief as tail after tail came over the rail and the awesome bite went on most of the morning.
Mother and son fed on each other’s enthusiasm during the next few years as they explored the fertile waters off San Diego.
More half-day trips led to full-day, and then to overnight trips as their skill and interest increased.
A former co-worker invited Griffith and son to Costa Rica where they expanded their knowledge of fishing further. Again, they enjoyed the warmer below-the-border climate and extraordinary fishing action.
The two fished South Carolina and Florida and their catch list grew to include sailfish and marlin as they continued to travel farther afield to the “Tropic Star Lodge” in Panama.
At the Fred Hall Long Beach Show in 2009, Aidan stopped at the IGFA booth where he met Michael Farrior, IGFA Trustee and Historian. Farrior offered Aidan a Junior Membership. With that membership, he received a current IGFA World Record Game Fish book.
“He studied that book at every opportunity,” Griffith recalled. The following year at the IGFA booth at “Day at the Docks,” Griffith and Aidan met IGFA Representative James Gowans who introduced them to the “All Tackle Length Record” program which was new at that time. One of Aidan’s Christmas presents that year was an IGFA Measuring device.
Their interest in sportfishing continued to flourish, though now the two were focused on setting an IGFA World Record. Although Lisa had never owned, nor even driven a boat very often before, she purchased a Robolo 305 walk-around the following year.
Her friend Kenny Pelant had a captain’s license and agreed to show her the ropes … literally.
As the length records eluded the two, their attention turned to line-class records. Capitalizing on the arrival of bluefin in 2013, they were ready. After a few near-misses, Griffith struck pay dirt on July 27, 2013 with a Pacific bluefin on 20-pound class line weighing 29-pounds, 8-ounces — her first IGFA record!
This was followed on August 1, 2013 with another Pacific bluefin on 16-pound class line that weighed 27-pounds, 9-ounces and another record.
Griffith had a banner day on September 20 of that same year, landing two more Pacific bluefin – one on 50-pound weighing 41-pounds, 14-ounces; and another on 12-pound weighing 39-pounds, 0-ounces, with both being approved by IGFA as records, she increased her total for the year to four IGFA World Records!
After a dry spell in 2014, Griffith was back at it during what many are calling the best Pacific bluefin season the West Coast has enjoyed in years. With many larger fish in 2015, she opted to attempt to improve her 16-pound record of 2013. First, on July 19 she did just that by catching a 30-pound, 8-ounce Pacific bluefin, then besting that catch on August 9 with a 36-pound, 8-ounce fish increasing her original 2013 record by nearly 30%.
“Pursuing IGFA records is kind of in my blood now. I initially didn’t think I could go down in line classes as easily as I have,” Griffith admitted recently. “I tried 4-pound and it snapped instantly – maybe 20 times. However, I have some new techniques to try next season,” she promised.
Two seasons later, in October of 2016, aboard her Robalo 305 – Hooked at San Clemente Island with Kenny Pelant for a weekend trip.
Her persistence paid off.
“It was one of those trips you live for – beautiful weather, few boats, and great BFT fishing. We enjoyed living on the boat in Pyramid Cove (our first time doing that at San Clemente Island). Kenny worked really hard trying to make live squid, and he was only able to make 7 pieces, which was a concern,” she explained.
“I caught the first BFT just after sunrise on a glow flatfall. The other three we caught on fly-lined live squid (and we let four live squid go before loading the boat back at the landing, so each live squid used was a good one!),” she continued.
“Our four fish taped at 101 pounds, 88 pounds, and two in the low 50-pound range. I used my 50-pound tested IGFA line for the 88-pound fish, and it weighed in at Dana Landing the next day at 83.3 pounds.“
Griffith explained, “I will be submitting a world record application for that one. It took me an hour and 45 minutes. I might have gotten it in sooner, but I reeled in the 101-pound BFT before that and I was exhausted. I used my Talica 16 with 80# fluorocarbon line for the 101-pound fish and for the flatfall fish.
Kenny used the same setup on his Trinidad TN20 for the other fish. We connected on all four bites with no failures (thankfully)!”
She reflected, “In addition to the setups that worked, we tried flying sardines, fresh dead squid on the balloon, and fresh dead squid hanging on a glow jig. We would have loved to have stayed out at the island overnight and fished Sunday, too, but we had had more than our fill of fish and were running too low on ice to stay out any longer. So . . . we headed back before sunset Saturday – exhausted, but feeling fulfilled.”
IGFA Records awarded and retired
Tuna, Pacific bluefin Thunnus orientalis W-10 kg (20 lb.) 13.38 kg (29 lb. 8 oz.) 91.44 San Diego, California, USA 27-Jul-2013 Approved
Tuna, Pacific bluefin Thunnus orientalis W-08 kg (16 lb.) 12.5 kg (27 lb. 9 oz.) 83.82 San Diego, California, USA 01-Aug-2013 Retired
Tuna, Pacific bluefin Thunnus orientalis W-24 kg (50 lb.) 18.99 kg (41 lb. 14 oz.) 99.06 San Diego, California, USA 20-Sep-2013 Approved
Tuna, Pacific bluefin Thunnus orientalis W-06 kg (12 lb.) 17.69 kg (39 lb. 0 oz.) 99.06 San Diego, California, USA 20-Sep-2013 Approved
Tuna, Pacific bluefin Thunnus orientalis W-08 kg (16 lb.) 13.83 kg (30 lb. 8 oz.) 83.82 San Diego, California, USA 19-Jul-2015 Retired
Tuna, Pacific bluefin Thunnus orientalis W-08 kg (16 lb.) 16.56 kg (36 lb. 8 oz.) 91.44 San Diego, California, USA 09-Aug-2015 Approved