Colin “Rip” Cunningham, MBA’72, knows his way around the rod and reel. Since 1973, he has hung his fishing hat at the Salt Water Sportsman magazine, serving in a variety of roles, including owner, editor-in-chief, and, currently, conservation editor. The Dover, Massachusetts, resident also is dedicated to fisheries management, serving as a longtime member on state and federal fishing commissions. This fall, The International Game Fish Association inducted him into its Fishing Hall of Fame. “It’s a huge honor,” he says.
You must find fishing relaxing. It’s not relaxing at all. Show me a patient fisherman, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t catch a lot of fish. It takes a lot of thinking about what you’re seeing, and understanding the reactions of fish to what you’re doing. If you’re just sitting there waiting for them to do something, you’ll be less successful.
Did you fish much when you were a kid? I spent a lot of my youth pedaling around on bicycles with a friend. We probably fished every pond within a 15- mile radius. We’d leave in the morning and come home for supper. I was 10 or 11. We would pack our lunch and head on out.
What’s the most memorable place you’ve ever fished? The one that sticks out the most is Russia, fishing for Atlantic salmon in what is called the Northern Rivers. It was an incredibly beautiful place, and it was very wild. We rode an hour-plus into the wilderness in these old, rattling helicopters. The fish coming up those rivers are the best examples of Atlantic salmon.
How did you start working at the Salt Water Sportsman? An acquaintance persuaded me to give it a try. I had no journalistic background at all. I gave it a shot, and I never looked back. He and I eventually bought the company. It was a sleepy, well-respected publication, and we turned it into the largest saltwater fishing magazine in the world. Through that, I got into fisheries management issues.
Why are you so involved with conservation? I was fortunate enough to combine an avocation and a vocation and do pretty darn well at it. I still have a sense that I have an obligation to give back to the resource that gave me this very good living. Another part is I enjoy the fishing experience and want to make sure it’s around for my grandchildren and their children. I want to make sure there’s still fish out there.
What do you do when you’re not fishing? I do what everyone else does. I work on the honey-do list.
How did you get your nickname? It was a family thing. It takes too long to explain.—John Crawford