Hooked on a feeling
With Anthony Hsieh
By Sarah Flavell
When it comes to modern sports fishing, Anthony Hsieh – Owner of the Bad Company fleet and YS 5301 – isn’t just the authority on the subject, he is the benchmark. As the holder of multiple world records and with an 11-strong fleet dedicated to his unique private fishing programme, his passion for the sport runs deeper than the fish he tracks. But as I discovered, that’s only the half of it.
“I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. With my latest company I created over 10,000 jobs in 12 years but the human to human impact we have with WHOW is unexplainable.”
The Human Touch
Behind all the adrenalin-pumped adventure and tournament winnings is a sense of responsibility to promote and create a positive environment for the sport, for the fishing industry and for yachting. And above all, with a human touch. In 2018, Anthony started up WHOW (War Heroes On Water). A non-profit organisation focussed on supporting wounded American war veterans.
WHOW combines Anthony’s love of fishing with his admiration for the men and women who have fought for America – the country which he credits with creating such tremendous opportunity for him and his family. He has since taken over 200 wounded American war veterans out on his boats and his WHOW family continues to grow every year.
“The annual suicide rate amongst wounded war veterans is 7%. The profound impact we have had in protecting and saving lives, to let these men and women know that we care. It’s not just a fishing tournament that lasts for 5 days, we also maintain a relationship with them thereafter. Every other trip of my planned world tour, due to start next year, I am going to be bringing a group of these veterans with me so they can enjoy the travel, the exotic locations and know that the WHOW family is very strong.”
When I heard the phrase ‘World Tour’ I couldn’t help but make a connection to music. And I wasn’t far off the mark. Afterall, Anthony’s entire fleet and programme take a form of inspiration from what was at the time his favourite band and song.
“My first twin diesel boat was a 32ft Blackfin and I named it Young Guns but once I turned 30, I figured I wasn’t that young anymore so I had to come up with a new name. Back then, in 1996, I really liked the band and song Bad Company and in that spirit I decided to name my next boat after them. At the time I was 31 years old and there has since been 50 Bad Companies!”
The Bad Company fleet includes the 92ft located in Cabo San Lucas that covers Magdalena Bay, a 75 footer that covers the Southern California region, a Viking 60 which covers the Australian coast and a Spencer 57 that covers most areas surrounding the European Coast such as Portugal and the Azores all the way down to Cape Verde.
As fate (or luck and fortune) would have it, Anthony’s Bad Company fleet has since come full circle. In 2023 he will take delivery of the very first YS 5301. And whilst this 53-metre (175 ft) Yacht Support built by Damen Yachting has a very specific goal within his unique and extensive fishing programme, it is the nod to the past that makes her all the more special.
“The YS 53 will carry the 43ft Release game boat and a 32 Blackfin. That 32 Blackfin is my original Young Guns. I bought it back after 32 years and I’m refurbishing it to be like new. So my first boat is going to be carried by my latest boat!”
Anthony’s love of fishing dates much further back than 1991. He was 8 years old when his parents emigrated to the United States from China, but fishing was a constant that remained a father and son hobby across both continents.
“My Dad used to take me fishing in ponds and lakes and through my teenage years I was hooked. It kept me out of trouble growing up in California. I got myself a job working on a fishing boat for 15 dollars a day and did that until I went to college. I’ve been fortunate enough to find success in my own professional journey and along the way I have never stopped fishing.”
And of course the commercial-grade cultivation With approximately 60-80 fishing days a year being the average tally and having owned more than 60 boats in his life, Anthony knows what he wants when it comes to boats and fishing.
“Boats are just a passion, I understand all facets of it and now, at this point in my life, I wanted to do something spectacular. What we are planning to do with the YS 5301 no-one has ever done before and I think this will set a whole new tier of adventure for future sportsmen to explore. Our programme will hopefully inspire a new generation of sportsmen who I hope will in turn create their own programmes. It will be good for the sport, yachting and the fishing industries.”
“The programme has 2 Damen Yachting support vessels splitting the Atlantic via the Pacific/Indian oceans. That’s a pretty major feat to design that type of coverage.”
The extent of Anthony’s ambitious programme is evident in every aspect of his plans – from the size of the fleet to the enormity of the logistics that come with fishing multiple oceans simultaneously.
The programme’s operations base on the Atlantic side, with a 33ft Game boat on board, is the 46-metre Yacht Support BAD COMPANY SUPPORT which joined his fleet towards the end of 2021. The home and hub of all operations in the Indian and Pacific Oceans will be the responsibility of the brand new YS53 – a 53-metre Yacht Support – which Anthony will take delivery of next year.
The YS53’s programme will incorporate fishing for Pelagic fish in relatively unchartered waters in fishing terms supporting a number of marine conservation projects.
“The Pacific current versus the Atlantic Gulf Stream versus the Indian Ocean currents are all very different. The Indian Ocean is more horizontal, the Atlantic Ocean is all vertical and the Pacific is circular. The Ocean currents, tides and moon phases, these are all things that make up how the ocean takes care of itself and affects how these wonderful Pelagics swim.
These Pelagics have giant tails and they move around thousands of miles so to have a programme such as we do, which is try to be a little bit smarter than the fish, has been very interesting. No one has ever done it before in sport fishing, actually really in the human race. That is trying to find where they live, where they reproduce and where they feed.
The YS 53 will allow us to cover areas of the Earth that haven’t really been explored with contemporary fishing. It will be really interesting to see what happens when we deploy the latest in contemporary fishing techniques together with the best equipment available. We will be releasing the vast majority, so catch and release, and we will also be helping out the scientific community with deploying some satellite tagging systems.”
Catch of the Day
And whilst the programme works towards conservation and positively positioning recreational fishing, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Anthony’s fishing adventure began and still is driven very much by personal passion.
“The primary objective of this world tour is to target blue and black marlins in excess of 700 lbs, so trophy-size also called Granders, but we are hoping to catch some over 1000 lbs. We’ll also be targeting surface swimming swordfish. Swordfish are generally a bottom dweller but sometimes they come up to the surface. When they do come up to sun and we are able to entice them to eat, that sport of catching a surface swordfish is spectacular. I’ve hooked over 40 in my career but only ever caught 9.”