BlacktipH’s Josh Jorgensen discusses what it means to be a fishing influencer, his battle with cancer, and how responsibility plays into his work.
There have been so many epic fishing trips that it’s impossible for BlacktipH’s Josh Jorgensen to pick a favorite, but that nearly 400-mile round trip to Pulley Ridge in the Gulf of Mexico and back ranks pretty high.
The legendary spot off Florida’s coast is where one of the internet’s favorite fishermen finally landed a 294-pound Warsaw grouper after two previous dry runs. The fish was so big and heavy, it took everyone on the boat except the cameraman to hoist it aboard.
So there’s video, of course, and you can find it with the title “We Caught a SEA MONSTER!!” on Jorgensen’s amazingly popular BlacktipH Fishing channel on YouTube. It’s a typical BlacktipH video in the sense that it’s so exciting and realistic that you almost feel like you’re right there on the boat with him and a small, close-knit crew.
The Grouper that Broke the Internet
Jorgensen has hauled in much bigger fish, but this gargantuan grouper was so memorable, because it didn’t come easy. “It took us three years to catch that fish,” Jorgensen says. “It was 160 miles out, and we made three separate trips before we got him.”
For the most part, Jorgensen is one of those sunny and optimistic fishermen who is happy catching whatever’s biting. Marlins, both blacks and blues (a few of them have even weighed in at over a thousand pounds), are always a blast, he says. He’s also brought in hundreds of sharks of various species, sometimes from the shore but often from his charter company’s Tideline 365 catamaran.
“On the right tackle, catching a big shark can be quite exhilarating,” Jorgensen says. “It’s like hooking a submarine or some unstoppable force, and you’ve got to really earn it.”
A New Battle Is At Hand for Josh Jorgensen
Jorgensen is on a break from fishing these days—hopefully for just a short while—as he fights an even bigger battle against a major health crisis. After being diagnosed with testicular cancer last fall, he underwent chemotherapy as well as surgery to remove lymph nodes from his abdomen.
He expects to return to his usual routine by this fall and with a deeper perspective. In a video message to fans just before going in for surgery, he reiterated his positive outlook:
“Nothing can steal my joy, and we’re gonna beat this with a smile,” he said. “It’ll just be part of my story.”
Crushing It On Youtube
The tightly edited footage of Jorgensen and fellow fisherman Jason Boyll sealing the deal with the elusive grouper condenses a marathon excursion into a less than 12-minute stream. At last count, 3,367,801 people had clicked or tapped on it. However, these numbers are a drop in the bucket to Jorgensen’s other staggering statistics.
“We have more than a billion views across the YouTube platform alone, with 3 videos that have over a hundred million views,” says Jorgensen. And that’s just YouTube alone, he notes, where his channel has nearly 4.2 million subscribers. In addition, BlacktipH has another 3.5 million followers on TikTok plus around 834,000 on Instagram.
He started posting videos as a teenager to prove to friends back home in Ontario, Canada, that you could catch sharks from the beach on a Florida vacation. (That’s where the quickly chosen name comes from—it’s short for “blacktip hunter.”)
For the past decade or so, his lifelong passion has been his full-time vocation. It’s a bit simplifying to say the 33-year-old husband and father of three young daughters makes his living fishing, though. He and his team, which includes his brother, Jake, consistently create compelling internet content while running a busy charter business that lures the rich and famous, including pro athletes and other celebrities.
Keeping Things in Perspective
Along the way, Jorgensen has become increasingly outspoken on conservation issues since seeing the results of overfishing by both commercial and recreational fishermen. He readily admits he played a part, too, though unwittingly.
“Unfortunately it’s a double-edged sword,” Jorgensen says. “I wanted to inspire people to go fishing. I never anticipated that there would be tens of thousands of YouTubers spawning from what I’ve done. But that’s what’s happened.”
Jorgensen is quick to say he’s been blessed. But he offers some cautionary thoughts to armchair anglers who believe they would trade places with him in an instant.
“There’s a big difference between going fishing for fun and doing it as a business,” he says. For instance, it can cost thousands of dollars in fuel and other expenses. And there’s always pressure to get captivating photos and video rather than simply having a pleasant day on the water.”
“Everybody wants to be famous, everybody is trying to go viral, but the problem is that in the pursuit of that you fail to enjoy the moment,” Jorgensen says. “I think people need to really ask themselves what they are trying to achieve. Are you wanting to build a social media audience, or are you doing it because you enjoy fishing?”
Note: This article was originally published in April 2023.