I was saddened to learn of Tred Barta’s passing in August 2019 in an automobile accident. So many memories came flooding back – his desire to do everything the hard way “the Barta way” could certainly bring out the worst and best in people. People either loved him or hated him, but no one could deny his tinasity and love of the outdoors.
Tred’s own personal challenge of overcoming a life-threatening disease at the peak of his TV NBC Sports career left him paralysed but not defeated. He never let anything or anyone hold him back, and I count myself fortunate to have been by his side during a number of his outdoor adventures such as fly fishing for trout in Vale Colorado, to fishing sailfish in Guatemala. It was through our shared passion to fish no matter what our personal challenges might be, (in my case I’m totally blind), led to our engaging in deeply personal and revealing discussions about the many barriers we face as people with disabilities, and how to keep moving forward with determination, integrity, and a good sense of humour. I think what I admired in Tred the most was his sense of humour and creative way of engaging members of the public in his spontaneous real-life public performances that would leave everyone smiling, if not slightly confused.
I first met Tred when a mutual friend invited us to be part of the first-ever all disabled team to compete in the America Cup International Fly fishing Tournament in Colorado. It was after the event had concluded and Tred took out his infamous 150lb-pull long bow that we had a chance to really get to know each other. I think I impressed him with my accuracy that led Tred to invite me on future adventures of his own.
Link to read an account of our America Cup fly fishing results first published in Bob Izumi’s Reel Fishing magazine: http://lawrencegunther.com/blind-fishing-sailfish-using-bait-and-switch/
When I received an invitation from Tred to join him, his passed wife Annie, and his film crew in Guatemala for some light tackle fishing for Sailfish, I jumped at the chance. Tred proposed that he would serve as my eyes as we attempted to hook-up sailfish using the bait-and-switch technique, and I would serve as Tred’s arms and hands as I would connect and then play the fish. Well, it didn’t go quite as we planned, but worked out beyond everyone’s wildest dreams in the end.
Link to read my report on our adventure along with great photos: http://lawrencegunther.com/blind-fishing-sailfish-using-bait-and-switch/
Link for Tred Barta’s report on the sailfish adventure published in Sport Fishing magazine: https://www.sportfishingmag.com/blogs/record/you-won-t-believe/
Link to watch this great video of Tred and I ultimately triumphing over the challenge of learning to catch Sailfish on light tackle using the bait-and-switch technique without the use of sight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqjIotUT2R0