IGFA California Representative Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak is an IGFA Representative based in Alamo, California, and to get this out of the way immediately, he is not the Apple co-founder. They aren’t even related, but we can guarantee that the IGFA Steve has caught a lot more fish than the Apple guy.
Steve’s journey to being an IGFA World Record angler and an IGFA Representative followed a rather unconventional course. He began fishing in the 1960s with his father, hunting sunfish in New England ponds, and he knew even then this would be a lifelong passion. As he grew up, his family moved throughout the Midwest and then to California. In each new location, he would get away whenever he could to chase local targets – trout, bass, or whatever would bite in nearby creeks. As he graduated from UC Davis in 1985 and entered the professional world, his angling opportunities expanded. His first big game fishing trip was to Mexico in 1994, where he added marlin, sailfish, and tuna to his angling resume.
At the same time, as he ended up settling in Northern California, he started pursuing local gamefish like striped bass, albacore, steelhead, and sturgeon.
In and of itself, this represented a lot of fishing, great fun but not anything many anglers were already doing. That all changed over a dinner conversation in 1998. After a day on the water, Steve and a buddy somehow started comparing how many different species they had captured. They borrowed a legal pad and two pens from the restaurant and made lists. (Steve tells us his was bigger, but still well under 100). The idea appealed to Steve, and with a few more lists and an Excel class later, an obsession was born.
Always one for big goals, Steve decided that 1,000 species seemed like a target that would keep him busy for life, and he set out attempting to catch and identify every possible fish, large or small, gamefish or not, that he could find. As a senior executive in a series of software companies, he began traveling internationally on a frequent basis, and this helped add to “the list.” Fish that might escape notice from most sportsmen became subjects of endless research and ever-wider-ranging trips that went well outside established the typical gamefishing infrastructure.
After a few years of this quest, Steve discovered that there was a community of species-hunting anglers, many of whom have become lifelong friends of his, but that no one had ever gotten close to 1,000 different species. Rather than reconsider his goal, he kept fishing. In 2007, when he logged his 660th catch, he discovered, to his great surprise, that this was the leading total globally. Still, even with constant travel and pursuit of targets well outside the norm, he recognized that 1,000 was going to be a lot more difficult than he could have imagined.
In the midst of all this, Steve was introduced to the IGFA and its world record program. He set his first record, a line-class record for barramundi, on May 26, 2005. What began as “checking the box” to get a world record soon became another obsession, as many of the unusual fish he was targeting did not have an established IGFA All-Tackle World Record. In fact, Steve’s angling pursuits and record submissions have benefited science as his catches oftentimes exceed the maximum reported weight of these lesser known species.
On July 21, 2010, Steve caught his 1,000th species – a coalfish in central Norway. He caught his 1,001st species just a few hours later, but before the news had traveled too far in the fishing community, he had reset to a new goal of 2,000 species. (He told us “I should have thought that one through a bit more.”)
As he continued his relentless pursuit of the different and unusual, IGFA World Records began to stack up. Starting in 2011, he won several IGFA titles for most conventional world records in a year and two overall titles. By 2015, he had set over 100 records, mostly on newly-submitted species.
Throughout his journey as what he likes to call “the ultimate in generalist fishing,” Steve has tried to advocate for IGFA principles on ethical angling and conservation. He is a frequent speaker for both youth and community groups. Steve also lends his time to a number of conservation research projects, largely focused on local fish stocks but ranging as far afield as Mexico and Brazil. He chronicles his adventures, which often involve extreme efforts after increasingly obscure fish, on his blog 1000Fish.Wordpress.com.
Steve has continued in his pursuits unabated, and if anything, seems to be speeding up. On May 13, 2021, he captured his 2,000th species – a leopard searobin in Tampa, Florida.
As of this publication date, his current species count of 2044 is the world leader by a wide margin. (There are now three other anglers who have passed 1000, so watch out!) His IGFA World Record count has increased to 217, one of five anglers who has exceeded 200, and he has now visited 94 countries to accomplish all this.
The IGFA wishes Steve the best in his future pursuits, although we must note he refused to comment on whether he is now going for 3,000 species.