Michael Leech, probably the most knowledgeable fisherman alive today and a frequent visitor to Virgin Islands waters, was the 2005 recipient of the Big Game Room “Hall of Fame” Award. The award was presented in the Big Game Room (BGR), a sports fishing expo that was created for the purpose of bringing fishermen together on an annual basis, by famed marine artist Guy Harvey and Australian sports fishing pioneer, Laurie Wright.
Virgin Islands sports fishing pioneer and one of the key organizers of the BGR, Jimmy Loveland, said about Leech, “If IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) is the bible organization of big game fishing – Mike Leech wrote the Ten Commandments. Mike represents everything good about the sport.”
Leech, who currently serves as Ambassador at Large to the IGFA, is a Rhode Island native who has lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1955. Prior to joining IGFA in 1983, Leech served in the U.S. Coast Guard, held the position of executive director of the Florida Council of 100, and later worked as financial advisor for a major brokerage firm. He assumed the lead position of IGFA president in 1992.
Under Leech’s leadership, the IGFA experienced many accomplishments. These include construction of the organization’s world headquarters in Dania Beach and opening of the 60,000 square foot IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum. Some of Leech’s other credits include serving as president of the first-ever night swordfish tournament, winning the Gold Coast Triple Crown of fishing in 1993, and serving on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Leech currently serves on the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Other significant programs that have been initiated under his leadership include the IGFA Junior Angler World Record Program and IGFA Certified Observer Program. Both of these initiatives, along with tournaments such as the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, have brought Leech to the Virgin Islands several times.