Did you know the man who’s often considered to be the best fisherman on Earth lives right here in Florida? He was also an emergency room doctor with a long career in the business of saving lives. Although he’s retired now, he’s still out on the water, adding to his collection of more than 440 fishing world records and showing us all how to be best with age.
Dr. Martin Arostegui was born in Cuba in 1946, and he started fishing as a very small child in Havana. In 1960, the Cuban Revolution forced his family to emigrate and settle in Miami. He quickly fell in love with all the world-class fishing opportunities available to him in South Florida.
For his career outside of his passion for fishing, Dr. Arostegui followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps to become a medical doctor, receiving his medical degree from the University of Miami. He actually credits his medical and surgical training and experience with helping him become a great angler.
“My medical training and experience did help a lot,” he admits during a recent interview. “I did a lot of microsurgery that help with manual dexterity—very important in fly and tippet tying. My goal-oriented personality was key for both my medical career and my fishing goals.”
Now in his 70s, Dr. Arostegui is showing no signs of slowing down. He became the first person ever to achieve over 100 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records in 2004, and just over a dozen years later, he’s now up to over 440 and counting. That’s pretty amazing when you consider that he didn’t get his first IGFA world record until 1994, at the age of 48! Plus, for Dr. Arostegui, fishing is a family affair—both his wife and his son have more than 100 world records each to their names.
Dr. Arostegui is probably best known for his achievements with fly-fishing, which is a technique that’s somewhat uncommon in salt water fishing. He’s the first person in history to accomplish the IGFA Billfish Royal Slam using fly tackle. That means he caught an Atlantic Blue Marlin, a Pacific Blue Marlin, a Black Marlin, a White Marlin, a Striped Marlin, an Atlantic Sailfish, a Pacific Sailfish, a Swordfish, and a Spearfish—all using gear and techniques most commonly associated with catching small river trout! Many people consider that his biggest fishing achievement.
For a retiree, many of his catches are truly gigantic. For example, he caught at 385-pound lemon shark using fly tackle near Key West. After more than an hour of fighting this mammoth shark, he was able to land it, measure, weigh, and record it, and then release it safely back into its home waters.
It’s all the more impressive when you consider that he earned the honor of the IGFA Lifetime Achievement award way back in 2005. Instead of slowing down and resting on his laurels, he went on to set hundreds more world records! He’s been an IGFA trustee since 2012, and he loves giving back to the angling community. His outreach also includes giving presentations for ecological conservation for students across South Florida.
This year, in 2018, Dr. Arostegui was officially inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame. For many people, this would be the “cherry on top” of an illustrious fishing career, but for Dr. Arostegui, it’s just another stepping stone on his fishing journey. He now resides in Coral Gables, Florida, and he’s still fishing as much as ever.
Dr. Arostegui is an inspiring example of how all of our best years can be ahead of us. He took a beloved lifetime hobby and poured all his energy into it after retiring from a long and fulfilling career. His incredible achievements in fishing show us all how there’s always something bigger and better on the horizon—or just under the waves.