About Dade Thornton

Bill Haast
Dade Thornton and Bill Haast

The most recognizable color photographs ever taken of Bill and the King Cobra was done by his good friend, Dade Thornton, seen here with Bill and a south american Bushmaster, the largest pit viper in the world. Dade Thornton was a person of very notable accomplishment in his own right, as the biographical information below presented in the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame attests, and I wish to express my sincere thanks to his son Whit Thornton, for permission to use both of these wonderful photographs.

Dade W. Thornton
2001 Inductee to the I.G.F.A. Hall of Fame

Dade Whitney Thornton was a noted naturalist, conservationist, fishing journalist, tournament coordinator, I.G.F.A . Representative, and one of the big game fishing’s best known ambassadors. Born in New York City, Thornton was a resident of Miami, Florida for 50 years. Always active in the community, he was deeply involved in the Boy Scouts of America throughout his life, was a founder of both the Miami Museum of Science and Natural History and Everglades National Park, and served as President and Chairman of the Board for the Florida Audubon Society for 15 years.

A portrait photographer by profession, Thornton put together his first photo album, a Bimini tuna tournament in 1957. That was the beginning of the almost 40 years he devoted to organizing, writing about, photographing, and documenting big game fishing tournaments in the world’s finest fishing destinations. Dade Thornton was multi-talented and flamboyant, an accomplished musician and cook who could be found at various times wrestling alligators, organizing wheelbarrow races, catching poisonous snakes, or chanting to the “fish gods” when the fishing action was slow.

During his career he wrote more than 1,000 articles for outdoor publications and served as sportfishing editor for Southern Boating magazine. In January, 1998, Thornton was awarded the prestigious I.G.F.A. Elwood K. Harry Fellowship Award for his lifetime achievements in the sport of fishing and conservation, and in April 1998 he was recognized by the Chub Cay Club for his 25 years of service there. That same year, thousands of photographs, negatives, personal notes, articles, and tournament newsletters became part of I.G.F.A.’s archives, ensuring that the Dade Thornton Collection will continue to educate and entertain many future generations.