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Big Island Sport Fisherman’s Legacy Goes Beyond Hawaii

lawdawg1 / Flickr
lawdawg1 / Flickr

A memorial service will take place tomorrow on Hawai'i Island for a person who changed the way people look at local sport fishing. Jim Rizzuto passed away last month, but left a legacy that lives on well beyond the waters of Hawai'i. We get more from HPR contributing reporter Sherry Bracken.


Jim Rizzuto wrote a fishing column every single Monday in West Hawai'i Today for more than 45 years. The first inkling most people had of his illness was when he missed a column in June, for the very first time.


Rick Gaffney, boat captain, writer, fishery expert, met Jim decades ago.


“We were both fishing journalists, friendly competitors, always. My favorite recollection of Jim finding a really important fact was we had always believed that Hemingway never visited Hawaii. Jim found out through Henry Wishard in Waimea that his father had hosted Hemingway, he'd heard there was a great blue marlin caught in Kona, during the 20s. He checked out this claim, and then went hunting on Mauna Kea. The end result of Jim's sleuthing was a book called Hemingway in Hawai'i. 


Jim contributed to this community in a number of important ways. He was a skilled math teacher, so skilled that he wrote a textbook that became a nationwide standard.  

He was a great chronicler of fishing in Hawai'i, specifically on the Kona Coast.  He wrote to our local audience, he wrote monthly in magazines all over the world. He had an amazing archive and an amazing memory."


In a 2011 interview, Jim talked of his first writing assignment. It came in his freshman year at Rutgers University, from a tough professor.


"He absolutely loved the story, it was about fishing for catfish and eels on the Delaware River when I was a kid. It was worth an A plus."


Jim's final comment in that interview summed up what he communicated in his writings


"This is one heck of a place to go fishing and a magnificent place to be able to write about."

And a great place to raise a family, which friends say remained at the center of Jim’s Rizzuto’s life. His family is hosting a memorial Tuesday at Honokohau Harbor's Big Game Fishing Club at 4 p.m.

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