Captain Tred Barta's Fishing History Born 1952-Today
1956: At age 4, I caught my first fish by myself off the dock at our summer camp in Rangeley, Maine. The mighty fish was put in a bucket and carried up to the porcelain bath tub where it swam around to my amazement. At 3AM in the morning with tears in my eyes, my Dad, Mom and I took the fish back down to the lake, and released it on a full moon. My fishing career had started……
1957-1962; 5-10 yr old: I used to fish from day till night at Rangeley Lake, during the summer. During these formative years from 5-10 years old, my family owned a 31’ Pearson Sportfish powered by a pair of Merc cruisers. We fished for striped bass & blue fish. My Dad loved black fish and it seemed like it was every Saturday and Sunday for five years that we were on the water. At 10 years old, I was running the boat, I knew how to navigate and was keeping a log of where we fished, how we fished, and the conditions, etc. The biggest bass I caught at 10 years old was a 37 lbs 8 ounces monster. The first 10 years of my life, I was addicted to fishing and was learning quickly.
1962-1967; 10-15 years old: Watch out…. We made our first 10 trips to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and by 15 years old, I had released at least 100 billfish and a lot of striped marlin. We fished in Palm Beach, FL during the sailfish run and I was starting to learn how to drop back, set up, and fight the fish on fairly light tackle. I was now defiantly running boats in the 30-35’ class as well as docking them, learning knots, understanding the tide and wind. I was starting to be a decent angler.
1967-1972; 15-20 years old: Incredible Informative Years
I fished extensively in Maine, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island for giant tuna, blue fish, striped bass, swordfish, white marlin and started to dive for lobster during the summers. The fishing in those days was nothing short of unimaginable. I was starting to catch fish on charter boats and on my family’s boat. I had days where I landed multiple giants from 350-650 pounds. I was exposed to my first surface swordfish, to the north drop at St. Thomas, took my first trip to Tropic Star Lodge, Panama and got exposed to Venezuela’s white marlin in late August. I experienced some of the greatest marlin fishing ever off of Nantucket, 15-20 shots a day and I was just starting to develop the technique of casting live baits of eel off the bow. Toward the end of 1972, I took some of my first 5 canyon trips and I now owned my 19 foot Mako. The years between 15 and 20 years old opened my eyes on how much I didn’t know on a worldwide basis.
1972-1977; 20-25 years old: From 20-25 years old, I now owned my Forest Johnson, 32’ Prowler and it was big-time boogie canyon exploration. I was about 60% emerged in canyon fishing and it hadn’t become a disease yet but it was a passion. I berthed at Shinnecock Marina and caught one of the first Big Eye tuna caught on rod and reel. The Nation Marine Fisheries Service came down from Massachusetts to identify the species. My stories from 5-8 fish on at a time while fishing solo on my 19’ Mako were laughed at. I had over 60 hook ups before I landed the first fish by myself. I brought back stories of the Japanese-Russian fleet offshore, and now people started going to the canyon to confirm what I had said. Canyon fishing was coming of age. I fished extensively off Bimini and Cat Cay running Giant bluefin tuna on the flats learning from the best in the world. During this time, I was becoming seasoned captain, running in zero zero fog, I could wire big fish with the best of them, and I was starting to develop my own techniques.
1977-1982; 25-30 years old: The greatest big eye fishing known to man. I developed multiple hookup techniques, the “Barta throttle dance,” a concept of trolling 9 lines at one time, incorporating 7 riggers, the Barta porcupine rig. I literally caught thousands of tuna, yellow fin, albacore, big eye, bluefin and was starting to be recognized as one of the canyon experts of the world. I fished the Cape Horn of Africa, visited the Seychelles, fished the Galapagos, St. Thomas, and extensively explored the Bahamas.
1982-1987; 30-35 years old: Aboard my 47 foot Ridgeway, team Makaira wrote the book on canyon fishing. New techniques, places to fish, I was 100% consumed in canyon fishing. It was a disease, I was sick. I thought and slept nothing but the canyon. I spent a huge part of my energy proving the value of warm core eddies and how they move against the 100 fathom line, where the bait is found in these eddies, how to track them, etc.
I know it sounds like I’m a flaming egotist here, but as far as performance is concerned, team Makaira was almost untouchable. Out of a fleet of over 200 boats on any given weekend, we were consistently high hook, by 1987 we had landed over 400 Big Eye Tuna with many of the fish over 300 lbs dressed. I was literally fishing extensively all over: Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, I was developing a zero defect game.
1987-1992; 35-40 years old: The Best of the Canyon Fishing gone, the fish were showing signs of weakness; pair trolling, hard pressure from long lining, and extreme pressure from recreational fisherman were taking its toll on canyon fishing. It was still very good, but the golden years were waning. Massive commercial purse seining of blue fin schools seemed to be decimating the blue fin stock. The price of big eye tuna and blue fin tuna were soaring. There was a price on every fish's head. As far as maturity as a deep sea fisherman, my skills as a captain, mate and angler were at their height. I saw a conservation movement coming and I saw the need for it.
By this time, I was making the move to light tackle, several world records fell, 215 lb big eye tuna, 20 lb line, 5 hours 17 minutes, IGFA world record still holds today. My 65 lb yellow fin tuna, 6 lb line, IGFA world record, 63 lb blue fin tuna, 12 lb line, IGFA world record, lasted for a couple decades. I also had temporary records for 4 lb striped marlin, black marlin on 12 lb test, rooster fish on fly rod in Panama, and a 38 lb dolphin on 6 lb tippet on fly rod IFGA record still holds today. My outdoor writing in Big Game Fishing Journal was focused extensively on my light tackle techniques and my column in Sportfishing Magazine was well established.
1992-1997; 40-45 years old: From the early days to today, I am dedicated almost exclusive to canyon fishing & light tackle bill fishing, light tackle fly fishing, light tackle everything. I believe I was contributing greatly to certain aspects of the sport. I was doing extensive line testing, and was enjoying every aspect of the sport as captain, mate and angler. My depth of field from heavy to light tackle to fishing all over the world was starting to pay off in my writing and knowledge.
1997-2002; 45-50 years old: From 1997 to 1998, I lived in Jupiter, FL for a couple of years, and extensively re-explored the Bahamas, and enjoyed some of the greatest blue marlin fishing in the world. I am now exclusively a light tackle junkie. Modern day canyon fishing is falling apart, is sketchy at best, and is declining rapidly. In Florida I’ve learned an incredible amount about inshore fishing and boat design, maintenance, painting, fishing and mechanical work.
The great years of the Barta Blue Marlin Classic at Walkers Cay, Bahamas, we established an honor system scoring, no Calcutta’s, no lie detectors, no observers, 30 lb test line tournament, where your word was your bond. People said it would never work but we raised over $1,000,000 cash for the Junior Anglers IGFA Program. My distaste for Calcutta kill tournaments, the dishonesty that they fostered and the lawsuits that pursued made me sick. I was vehemently against Calcutta kill billfish tournaments. Tremendous pressure came from the industry to discredit my beliefs, I took a lot of heat and I bowed to no man. Some of the best blue marlin fisherman in the world fished the Blue Marlin Classic. In its first years it was sold out at 132 boats. It was standing room only. Simply put, your word is your bond and without trust there is nothing.
2002-2007; 50-55 years old: During my career I’ve run several boats from New York to Florida, fishing extensively the entire east coast I’ve taken several trips from California to Cabo, then ran boats from North Carolina to Bermuda. I’ve taken some wild trips from Maine to Nova Scotia navigated the Oregon, Washington coast, and navigated the Mediterranean off the strait of Gibraltar. I’ve ran boats and fished extensively off the Puerto Rico , Dominican republic, and I’ve run the inland waterway from Miami to the Great lakes. 55 years is a long time to be on the water, isn’t it? During this time I got to fish exclusively off the Oregon coast for blue fin and albacore, what an undiscovered gem it is. There has been a lot of salt water under my heel, I’ve learned a lot.
2007-2011; 55-59 Years Old: The last four years of my life I found me completely addicted to ultra light tackle fishing. My love for the sport as well as my paralysis being confined to a wheel chair for the rest of my life without any core muscles limits me to ultra light tackle 2 lb through 12 pound. I’m fishing only bamboo fly rods and collectable antique fly rods and have accomplished some amazing feats with both. My wife Anni loves light tackle sail fishing and I’ve taken great pride in watching her develop as an angler, she absolutely loves it.
During the period of time celebrating my TV show, I have been to Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Belize, and the New York Canyons. I’m now fishing ultra light for everything. This is where I find the greatest satisfaction. It’s just amazing how big of a fish you can catch with a 2 through 4 lbs tippet. I’ve been to Casa Vieja lodge several times during this period and now enjoy the title of captain of the fleet and promoting more and more light tackle participation. I caught a 500 lb class black marlin at Tropic Star Lodge on heavy tackle strapped to the fighting chair. To be honest, it was very painful and it was not as enjoyable as I would of liked it to be. I also caught several yellowfin tuna and that was extremely arduous too.
Anni and I have spent tremendous emphasis on charity with Wounded Warriors, Healing Waters, Disabled Bowhunters as well as The Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament. We have raised 700,000 dollars on our way to one million. I have been spending substantial amount of time working on getting kids in the great outdoors through hunting and fishing. My writing career has blossomed to the point that I can write for anybody at anytime, a privilege which I do cherish. I’m spending a lot of time doing inspirational speeches and working in hospitals for those who need help. I’m in the growth years where I’m trying to inspire other people, not blowing my own horn. I believe that my feel for ultra light tackle for fishing is actually better today than it has ever been, especially the art of 2 lb for billfish.
My Children: I have not mentioned my children, Lauren and Hunter. Laruen is now 25, Hunter is 20. Some of my greatest times were fishing with Hunter as he was growing up. Today he is a commercial fisherman in Beaufort, NC and has just blessed me with our first grandson. Hunter has over 78 canyon trips under his belt and has absolute salt running though his veins. He has developed excellent technique and patience.
Lauren never enjoyed fishing as much as Hunter. But we spent some great time on the water together as a family and Lauren always loved to eat the fish that we caught. She also lives in NC and is a massage therapist. I’m extremely proud of both of my children and love them very much. I think they are 2 of the greatest kids in the world.
Going through some history on boats I’ve owned.
31’ Bertram, partnering with Jim Hummel
38’ Delta, partnering again with Jim Hummel
33 ’ Rampage, Anni and I spent 3 years designing “The Barta Canyon Edition” and consulting on other models
Current boat: 36’ Rybovich docked at Casa Vieja Lodge ,Guatemala, partner Jim Turner.