Digest — May 2005
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
More Than Just a Job
|International Game Fish Association’s Mike Leech has turned a passion for angling into a life’s work.|
Mike Leech has come a long way from trolling for weakfish from a rowboat off Kennebunk, Maine.
Over the course of 46 years, Leech has caught all nine billfish species (talk about perseverance). He also nailed a personal-best swordfish of 365 pounds, which was taken on 50-pound tackle from a 20-foot boat in a battle that lasted more than five hours. In addition, he has an estimated 600-pound Guatemalan blue marlin to his credit.
Leech learned about these larger fish after moving from Maine to Florida (those New England winters can be nasty) when he was 19 years old. Several decades later, he is still an avid angler and currently has two fishing boats, one a 17-foot Maverick bonefish skiff for his skinny-water fishing, the other a 25-foot Contender for chasing pelagics.
On the surface Leech looks like your regular everyday adventurer/angler, but fish and fishing are much more than passions for this guy: They’re his life.
Leech is the past-president and current ambassador at large for the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), which monitors world-record catches. But Leech, who has been with the organization for more than two decades and served as president for one of them, has helped the IGFA grow in size and scope, making it more proactive in conservation efforts as well as establishing its Hall of Fame and Museum in Dania Beach, Florida. And, as with most of what happens to Leech, when it comes to all things angling, his involvement with the IGFA was the result of “a series of lucky circumstances,” he says.
He began as an IGFA member who was running several swordfish tournaments during the late 1970’s and came to know IGFA’s then-president Elwood Harry. A fast friendship developed between the two men, which led Leech to eventually apply for a job as Harry’s assistant in 1983. He held that position until Harry’s passing in 1993, and Leech took over the top spot.
This article originally appeared in the April 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.