SAN DIEGO — Bill Ghiselin, radio show host and avid fisherman passed away Aug. 17 after three years battling neck and lung cancer.
Ghiselin grew up in coastal Orange County learning how to fish long before he ever cracked open a school book. His dad was a commercial fisherman and from as early as Bill could remember, and he helped his dad fish from San Clemente Island to up and down the Southern California coastline.
At the age of 16, Bill became one of the youngest marlin captains in the Newport Beach private yacht fleet. Later He started a love affair with Baja, California founding a destination travel company “Try Baja.” Bill loved the people of Mexico, but even more loved frequently traveling south in pursuit of big fish: totuava in San Felipe; yellowtail, dorado and sailfish in Loreto; black, blue and striped marlin, off the coast of La Paz, and always big tuna off the East Cape and Cabo San Lucas.
It was during a small tournament at the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort a while back, while fishing a “Let’s Talk Hook-up” event that "Bill Ghiselin" picked up his nickname. He won the event with a 151-pound yellowfin tuna. The second place angler, also brought in a nice tuna, but it turned out to be 5 pounds lighter than Bill’s fish. While at the hotel’s bar later that day the second place finisher grudgingly acknowledged Bill’s catch by saying "That's a big tuna!" and looking at Bill he said, "From now on, I'm calling you Big Tuna Bill!"…and the nickname stuck.
Bill’s love for catching big tuna started long before that event. His first big tuna was caught off Southern California near Catalina Island at the Tanner Bank.
"I was just 16 years old and we were fishing for albacore. Back then we fished with 36-pound braided nylon line with a wire "live bait" leader. I don't know how we’d get bit using that set-up but I did and was lucky enough to land a 180-pound Allison tuna. Well, that's what they called the big yellowfin with the sickle fins back in those days."
Bill continued landing big fish long after that fateful day. His largest was a 350-pound bluefin tuna caught in sight of Morehead City, NC a few days before Christmas, 2004. His second largest was a 252- pound fish taken outside of La Paz in Baja.
"We were at a spot called the Ocho-Ocho or the 88 bank by Cerralvo Island in a school of small tuna. The fish ate a marlin lure.”
He remembered his favorite big tuna was caught at 4 a.m. on the Red Rooster III.
“I dropped a blue and chrome fluorescent Tady 15 heavy iron straight down over the side and at about 30 feet, got bit. An hour later, I had a 189-pound yellowfin on the boat." On another Red Rooster III trip in November of 2004 Bill caught a yellowfin tuna that weighed over 200 pounds. Since then Ghiselin had landed several more 200-pound plus yellowfin, including one 235 pounder.
Ghiselin was a huge fan of the "long range" fishing trips out of San Diego. Calling them the “last word in tuna fishing” because of the quality of the boat, the crews, food and locations they could target for the world’s best gamefishing.
He spent some time as editor of a couple community newspapers in Riverside County. In 2000, after spending a short apprenticeship on the “Let’s Talk Hook-Up” radio show, he founded and hosted Rod & Reel Radio. Along with his long-time friend and veteran boat skipper, the late Capt. Eddy McEwen, he added as co-hosts to the broadcast veteran bass angler Stan Vanderburg, Izorline rep Wendy Tochihara and this writer, WON BASS’ John “Hopalong” Cassidy. Today the Rod and Reel radio show flourishes offering listeners a wealth of angling information featuring guests from many different disciplines of fishing. As host of the radio show, Big Tuna Bill became close friends with many of the key people in the fishing industry, but he especially loved his association with the legendary boat captains of our era.
He leaves behind his wife Trudy, son Steve and stepsons Ben and Nate Harvey. Friends and listeners to his show can keep updated on memorial arrangements for Big Tuna Bill Ghiselin on the Rod & Reel Radio Facebook page.
BIG TUNA BILL GHISELIN passed away Aug. 18 after battling cancer for several years.