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May 09, 2011

Tred Barta

I have difficulty describing to someone how breathtaking the sound of a bull elk bugling on a crisp autumn morning is on the Uncompadre Plateau in Colorado. Or how good a simple can of beans and a piece of hardtack can taste, eaten by the fire while camping on the side of an Alaskan mountain. It's equally hard to adequately convey my feelings about my son Hunter and I sharing a major milestone this month. Hunter, myself and Danny Ford, a professional mate and a Madeira veteran, left Jupiter Inlet aboard my new Makaira at 6:30 a.m.
It's been a tough year getting the newly launched 70-foot Jack of Diamonds out of the yard. Finishing warranty work and helping to assemble the right full-time crew has taken a lot of time and effort. So we all were looking forward to fishing the boat's first competition - The Buccaneer Sailfish Tournament in Palm Beach. At the helm, Capt. Doug Hughes of Jensen Beach, Florida, mate on the previous Jack of Diamonds for the past six years. Doug was my canyon-fishing mate out of Long Island and we think alike.
It's an undeniable fact that if you take great crews and put them on small boats, you get world-class results. Conversely, all the money in the world will not make a large, expensive sport-fishing boat with an average or mediocre crew competitive.
The enemy of pelagic migratory species (and sport fishermen) is not commercial fishermen and it's not ICCAT. It's The National Marine Fisheries Service, seemingly the biggest bunch of (at best) inept and (at worst) dishonest government agency people I've ever seen. NMFS' Richard Stone, who has just retired as head of Highly Migratory Species, was a puppet manipulated by politicians and commercial interests. I say he and other cowardly, misguided bureaucrats have consistently given our rights and quotas to commercial interests and grossly mismanaged our resources.
The IGFA/Barta Blue Marlin Classic, April 23-27 at Walker's Cay, Bahamas, fired a shot heard round the world. Seventy top boats and crews from Central and South America, the Caribbean, several Gulf states, Florida and all over the Eastern Seaboard arrived ready to do battle according to the tournament's unusual rules: nothing but clean, dead baits, 100 percent release, no calcutta, honor-system scoring and only 30- and 50-pound test single-hook rigs.
I came to Florida from Southampton on Long Island five years ago for several reasons. Besides the benefit to my corporate aircraft sales and leasing business, I also wanted answers to some deep-seated inadequacies I felt about how good a fisherman I was. Throughout my 25 years of fishing for giant and bigeye tuna up north, it irked me every time a gorgeous, fast sport-fishing yacht visiting from Dixieland would blow by me on its way to the canyons. These top-flight southern crews stayed a month or two, then hustled back to Palm Beach.
The temperature is 56 degrees, and a 25-knot southeasterly is blowing - my weather prayer for hunting this particular cornfield has been answered. I'm lying on my back in the corn stubble with my yellow lab, Hoss, at my side and my Remington 870 pump-action leaning against me in the mud. Four dozen decoys have done their job well. My friends and I have enjoyed great bird-calling and spectacular shooting, and the dogs have earned their places by the fire this evening.
Tred switches to jet heads for tuna? Read it for yourself.
"Experienced anglers who fish with me for the first time usually get blown away by how short I fish my tuna sreads."
"If you're used to fishing down South, you'd better learn how to adjust your throttles and make turns during a tuna strike."