She probably didn’t weigh much over 100 pounds soaking wet, but Annie C. Kunkel was a ferocious angler, when in the cockpit or the fighting chair of a sport fishing boat. Annie, a member of the IWFA Hall of Fame (1983), was a female pioneer,of off shore, Big game fishing. Annie, a resident of Palm Beach was an avid participant in bill fishing and tuna fishing tournaments throughout south Florida and the Bahamas for over thirty years.
I personally had the opportunity to fish Annie in several IWFA sailfish tournaments out of Palm Beach, and many of my bosses (mostly men) fished against her in many Blue Marlin and Tuna Tournaments throughout the Bahamas. Annie always fished with great crews (Captain Jackie Lance and Capt. Kenny Lyman with Annie – above) and was always in the hunt.
Annie was one of the few female anglers at that time, that would don the bucket harness, and snap to the 130lb. stick, to take on the mini submarines we called giant blue fin tuna, as they pushed through the Bimini chain, during the last two weeks in May and the first two weeks of June each year. Annie out fished many of the men every year.
I think it was either 1970 or 1971, Annie and Jojo Delguerio had an unofficial contest on going, at Tuna Time in Bimini and Cat Cay, to see which angler could catch the most giant blue fins. At the time, Jojo was considered one of the most experienced and productive anglers alive. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but they both caught upwards of 200+ tunas each. If my memory is correct, Jojo only beat Annie by a couple of fish. She was the talk of the water front. It was an amazing feat for anyone to catch five or six giants per day on 130lb. tackle. Annie was the talk for the tuna circuit.
I can honestly say- it was fun to fish Annie, and many of the early members of the IWFA, and all of them were classy ladies.