PBS Series Chronicles the Growth of Sportfishing in The Palm Beaches

October 23, 2018

Two-Part Series Celebrates the Iconic Rybovich & Sons Sportfishing Boat Company
and the Evolution of Big Game Sportfishing Boats

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (October 23, 2018) – International travel journalist Burt Wolf, known for infusing historical facts and little-known details into his profiles, takes an in-depth look at the history of John Rybovich & Sons, the company that revolutionized the sportfishing boat industry.  The two-part series is currently airings on select Public Broadcasting stations (check local listings) and on The Palm Beaches.TV.

“Sportfishing is one of many activities that makes The Palm Beaches such an exciting vacation destination.  Outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs and even the generally curious are sure to enjoy this historical journey at one of the crown jewels of this destination,” says Glenn Jergensen, Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council.

In Gone Fishing Part One, Burt traces John Rybovich, Sr.’s turn-of-the-century migration from Yugoslavia (then called Austro-Hungary) to the United States.  A carpenter by trade, he arrived in Palm Beach, Florida in 1910 to participate in the booming construction industry.  The compelling series traces how John Sr. not only began his boat repair business, but over the next few decades, grew and perfected his craft; and with the participation of sons, John Jr., Thomas and Emil; improving upon the sport fishing cruisers and setting the standard for the future of sport fishing vessels.  Burt also explains how the success of Rybovich boat manufacturing helped Palm Beach become the epicenter for big game sport fishing - attracting the elite, the famous, like novelist Ernest Hemingway and even a few of the infamous. 

“The 1947 Rybovich Hull #1 is acknowledged as the world's first boat built specifically for the sport of bill fishing.  As the boat was designed, built and launched in West Palm Beach, West Palm Beach can truly claim the enviable status of "The Birthplace of Sportfishing," says Pat Rybovich, the founder’s granddaughter and author of the first and only book about the Rybovich story.

In Gone Fishing Part Two, Burt continues the odyssey of Rybovich & Sons and its evolution as a company.  In addition to highlighting the innovative advances that made the company the industry leader, he weaves into the story, the origins of popular nautical phrases, the importance of “catch and release sport fishing,” profiles female stars of the deep-sea sport fishing community and introduces viewers to a boat mechanic who flies his plane to deliver parts and do boat repairs around the world. 

In the century since the founding of Rybovich & Sons, the company experienced many peaks and valleys.  Today, the story continues as a new incarnation of Rybovich & Sons thrives with the fourth generation of family members joining the business.    

“It is an honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to own Rybovich for the time we did. We not only kept the tradition alive in boat building, but also in refit and repair and I would like to think we also increased the awareness of Rybovich to a larger market. Now today, Mike Rybovich is taking boat building to the next level, while the Huizenga family is taking the mega yacht market to the next level,”  says Jim Bronstien, owner of Marine Business Advisors.

Michael Rybovich added, “Burt has done a remarkable job of making the history of our family business entertaining while maintaining a rare journalistic accuracy. A very special thanks to Burt, his crew, the Palm Beach County Film and Television commission, and PBS for all their effort in the telling of this great American story of hard work and perseverance.”

The series was produced by locally-based Apex Productions. To learn more about this fascinating legacy, visit: http://michaelrybovichandsons.com/history.html and watch Travel & Traditions with Burt Wolf: Gone Fishing, Parts One and Two on your local Public Broadcasting station or on The Palm Beaches.TV.


About Burt Wolf

Manhattan native Burt Wolf is best known for his ability to seamlessly blend humor and history into his travel profiles, making him perhaps one of the most unique and creative storytellers of our time.  He has traveled the world, producing and hosting more than 5,000 segments of television for CNN, ABC, The Discovery Channel.  His eponymous Travels & Traditions series is currently in its 17th season on PBS.

About The Palm Beaches TV

The Palm Beaches TV is a tourism channel offering high-quality, family programming, showcasing the best destinations and activities, with an in-depth look at local entertainment, including beautiful beaches, delicious dining, exciting sports, recreation, art, culture and more in Palm Beach County, Florida. Available online, via Roku and as a designated channel in partner hotel rooms, the channel is formed in partnership with The Tourist Development Council and The Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission and is managed by global production company, Olympusat, Inc.

Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission Contacts:

Phyllis Man
Director of Development & Marketing


Lauren Tobin
Public Relations & New Media Strategist



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