Angler Michael Barry’s line came tight as he sat on a kayak just a few inches above the bathwater-warm Pacific Ocean. He literally came eye-to-eye with his foe: a Costa Rican sailfish. The road to get to this ultimate fishing moment was long, but for Barry it’s been worth the wait.
He’s always been at one with the water, having grown up on Singer Island in Palm Beach, Florida. “As a kid, I would always go over to Bill’s Marina [a.k.a. Sailfish Marina] to help all the fishing boats tie up and see their catches,” he recalls, adding, “I was fascinated with it from day one.” When he was old enough, Barry purchased a small Boston Whaler and taught himself how to fish. As often happens when one embraces the beautiful addiction that is life on the water, the boats he pursued his prey from grew ever larger. As did the dreams of what he wanted to catch. Eventually Barry became a Bahamas regular, and his persistent pursuit of pelagics—and the expertise he acquired along the way—soon took his fishing dreams farther than he could’ve ever imagined.
Ten years ago, he was returning from one of his angling excursions when he received a call from a friend who said he’d seen an advertisement for a production company in search of host for a TV fishing show. Barry investigated and was soon chosen as one of three emcees for the series called Hook, Line, and Sinker. Within the first year, he became the sole host and the name of the show changed to Reel Adventures.
For a decade, Barry’s show has traveled the world in pursuit of exciting angling opportunities, which brings us back to him chasing sailfish from a plastic boat.
“We were hired to go down to and promote several fishing lodges in Costa Rica. One of the lodges, Osa Resort, is an adventure destination that offers kayak fishing,” he explains.
The way you fish from this boat is in a word, different: Barry actually started trolling his baits from a diesel-powered sportfisherman. Once he had hooked his fish from the big boat, he got into an ocean kayak, which had been secured to the vessel’s swim platform.
“It was a blast, especially when I hooked a double-header of a sailfish and a dolphin,” he tells me, adding, “With a kayak you are at water level with the fish, and when he jumps you’re actually looking up at him.”
When fighting fish in a kayak, your quarry also has a tendency to tow you along at will, plus Barry says the action is completely different because of the shift in your center of gravity. Suffice to say, it’s a mano-a-mano moment that requires a fair amount of skill on the rod while maneuvering the kayak.
But the most interesting part of this type of fishing, he says, is trying to retrieve a hook without meeting the business end of your opponent.
Barry safely released all his fish, and with that check mark made on his must-catch list, this adventurer says he wants to try offshore-kayak fishing again, only this time he has his sights set on a bagging a behemoth blue marlin. I can hear it now: “Michael, I think we’re gonna need a bigger kayak.”
This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.