Fishermen from the Forties pose alongside huge catches

By Scott B 0

Quite a catch: This 1,200lb manta ray was caught by a local fishing guide called Forrest Walker in 1938

Long famed for sunshine and Disneyland, Florida's original pastime was to take advantage of the seas surrounding it filled with some of the largest creatures in our oceans.

This series of amazing pictures from Florida's state archive reveal how early 20th century anglers hauled in huge catches including a 1,200lb manta ray and a 45-foot long whale shark.

The collection of images, entitled Hooked: Florida’s Big Fish, documents the state’s long history as a centre of commercial and recreational fishing.

Tipping the scales: Anglers with a 30,000lb whale shark they caught in 1912 which was 45 feet long

Tipping the scales: Anglers with a 30,000lb whale shark they caught in 1912 which was 45 feet long

Hooked: A crew of anglers show off a grouper caught in the Halifax river in the 1920s

Hooked: A crew of anglers show off a grouper caught in the Halifax river in the 1920s

Impressive: A couple stand proudly with their haul of sailfish sporting matching knickerbockers in 1935

Impressive: A couple stand proudly with their haul of sailfish sporting matching knickerbockers in 1935

Threatened: Some species such as the hammerhead shark, pictured left on Palm Beach in 1893, and the Bonito shark, pictured right, are now running low on numbers

The photos give a fascinating insight into the exploits of fisherman in the first half of the 20th century who would still have been discovering some of these creatures for the first time.

Despite their gentle nature, giant manta rays were much-feared when they were first seen. 

Two films in the 1930s, The Sea Bat and The Sea Fiend, portrayed them as 'devil killers of the sea' which helped garnish their reputation as a danger to humans.

One picture also demonstrates how Florida's fishing reputation has attracted some famous angling fans over the years, including author Ernest Hemingway who is snapped with a huge sailfish he caught in the 1940s.

Florida has the longest coastline in the lower 48 states and thousands of lakes, rivers, springs, and swamps. 

Some of the famous local species include the tarpon, marlin, giant manta ray and sawfish.

While years of harvesting have taken their toll on sensitive fisheries and ecosystems, Florida’s marine environment remains one of the state's main economic strengths. 

Making a splash: Florida's waters attracted famous fishing fans including author Ernest Hemingway, pictured right in the 1940s

Fresh: Anglers standing with a day's catch at Palm Beach around 1900

Fresh: Anglers standing with a day's catch at Palm Beach around 1900

Unique: Florida is home to some of the world's most unusual species such as the giant manta ray, pictured here in the 1940s

Unique: Florida is home to some of the world's most unusual species such as the giant manta ray, pictured here in the 1940s

Hook, line and sinker: Bomber crews relax with a spot of fishing at West Palm Beach during World War Two

Hook, line and sinker: Bomber crews relax with a spot of fishing at West Palm Beach during World War Two

Acrobatics: A tarpon fish flips out the water in this photo taken in the 1920s

Acrobatics: A tarpon fish flips out the water in this photo taken in the 1920s

Tags: Florida, Fishing, Hooked: Florida’s Big Fish

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