Digest — March 2005
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
|Part 2: But even Barta admits that he regrets all the fish carcasses in his wake.|
Barta discovered a link between bigeyes and the location of warm-core eddies feeding off the Gulf Stream. An accomplished pilot (he owns a company that buys and sells corporate jets), Barta would fly over offshore canyons and search for these eddies. That’s right, no fancy sea-surface temperature charts, just his eyes. He’d then fly home, get his crew, load up his boat, and go for it. To date, Barta has caught 386 bigeye tuna. But who’s counting? Actually, he is, and always will. Perhaps it’s the competitive spirit he developed while a junior Olympian. In fact, in addition to his exploits with the bigeyes, Barta has held more than 20 IGFA records.
But even Barta admits that he regrets all the fish carcasses in his wake. Sports Illustrated once called him “The Butcher of Shinnecock.” “I was proud of that title at the time,” he says. “I’ve killed a lot of fish, and I’ve also got the guts to say it was wrong.” Make no mistake, he’s still going to keep tuna for the table. But he’s also against calcuttas and kill tournaments and supports children’s causes through a series of tournaments he runs. Barta’s tourneys have raised more than $1 million for the IGFA junior angling program. He recently turned his attention towards underprivileged children in North Carolina. Last year he launched the Barta Boys & Girls Club Billfish Tournament (www.bartaboysandgirlsclubbillfish.com), in Beaufort, North Carolina, which works on honor-system scoring and is, he says, all about “handshakes and backslaps. It’s called sportfishing, not money fishing.” The 2004 event raised more than $40,000 for the Boys & Girls Club, and with increased sponsorship and participants, this worthy cause is sure to reap even bigger benefits in 2005.
While Barta’s an angler who’s caught most all of the fish on his to-do list and is spending a lot of energy in his philanthropic efforts, there’s always a new adventure looming on the horizon and another goal to achieve. His latest, and one he’s thinking of filming for his TV show, is a trip to Madeira with his famed bigeye-catching crew of the 1980’s to chase down some of the largest-reported bigeye tuna around. I hear this trip may soon come to fruition, so keep an eye out.
So, yeah, he’s loud, and humility is not his forte. But Barta makes sportfishing interesting, and his knowledge is based on decades of experience. Barta succeeds and fails (he once dropped 40 striped marlin before hooking up and catching his four-pound-class world record). He’ll loudly celebrate his successes and readily admit his failures. And his reputation around these parts is that if he finds fish, he has no problem calling you over to them. Sounds pretty genuine to me.
This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.