Charles Frederick Holder

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Charles F. Holder with his then record 183lb. bluefin tuna catch, 1898.[1]

Charles Frederick Holder (1851–1915) was the inventor of big-game fishing and a founder of Pasadena's Tournament of Roses and the Tuna Club of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, California.


Holder came from a wealthy Massachusetts Quaker family. His father was the zoologist Joseph Bassett Holder (1824-1888) and his mother Emily Augusta Gove.[2]

After working as a curator at New York's American Museum of Natural History, he moved to Pasadena, California in 1885. A passionate naturalist throughout his life, he was known for his books on marine zoology and the first books on big-game fishing, a sport Holder pioneered in 1898.[3] His books are noted for their combination of accurate scientific detail with exciting narratives.[4]

From 1890 to 1891, Holder was a President of the Tournament of Roses Association, and for 1910 he was named the tournament grand marshal. He became known in Pasadena, California, as a businessman, philanthropist, and conservationist/sportsman. In 1898, he founded the Tuna Club of Avalon in Avalon, California on Santa Catalina Island, California, as an international organization that called for proper management of all game fish.[5][6]

In 1910, he traveled with Frederick Russell Burnham to Mexico and uncovered Mayan artifacts, including the Esperanza Stone, a supposedly paranormal relic described in The Book of the Damned.[7][8]

In 1998, he was inducted in the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.[6]


Holder with the Valley Hunt Hounds
  • Elements of zoology, (1885)
  • Southern California : its climate, trails, mountains, canyons, watering places, fruits, flowers and game, a guide-book, (1888)
  • All about Pasadena and its vicinity; its climate, missions, trails and cañons, fruits, flowers and game, (1889)
  • Charles Darwin; His Life and Work, (1891)
  • Along the Florida Reef, (1893)
  • Louis Agassiz; His Life and Work: His Life and Work, (1893)
  • Chinese Slavery in America, (1897)
  • An isle of summer, Santa Catalina; its history, climate, sports and antiquities, (1901)
  • The big game fishes of the United States, (1903), part of The American Sportsman's Library
  • The Log of a Sea Angler, (1906)
  • Life in the open; sport with rod, gun, horse, and hound in southern California, (1906) — Holder's account of hunting and fishing in the counties of Santa Barbara, San Buenaventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego. The topics include horseback hunts for lynx, fox, and wolves; fishing for trout in the Sierra Madres and for game fish off Catalina; pursuit of shore birds and water fowl; mountain lions and mountain goats; and photographic hunts for sea lions. Throughout, Holder argues for the sportsman's role in conservation.
  • Sport fishing in California and Florida, (1908). Bulletin of the Bureau of fisheries, volume XXVIII. Proceedings of the Fourth International fishery congress, Washington.
  • Pasadena, the crown of the valley, (1909)
  • Recreations of a sportsman on the Pacific coast, (1910)
  • The Channel islands of California; a book for the angler, sportsman, and tourist, (1910)
  • A method of studying the life history of fishes, (1910)
  • A method of transporting live fishes, (1910)
  • The Esperanza Stone (1910) Scientific American, pp. 196. ISSN 0036-8733.
  • Salt Water Game Fishing, (1914)
Esperanza Stone. Major F. R. Burnham (left), Holder (right), Yaqui Delta, Senora, Mexico, 1909.


  1. ^ Big-game fishing (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 01, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  2. ^
  3. ^ The history of game fishing
  4. ^ Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (2005)
  5. ^ The History of The Tuna Club of Avalon
  6. ^ a b International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame
  7. ^ Charles Holder (1910). "The Esperanza Stone". Scientific American (Scientific American, Inc): 196. ISSN 0036-8733. 
  8. ^ Fort, Charles; Horace Liveright (1919). "chapter XI". The Book of the Damned. Horace Liveright. ISBN 1-870870-53-0. 

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