SOLID CORE: Fishermen don’t get much more hardcore than Ben Barrie, who kayaks out to sea for fish.
SOLID CORE: Fishermen don’t get much more hardcore than Ben Barrie, who kayaks out to sea for fish.

Keen fisher takes sport to extreme

BEN Barrie is the Tweed's most extreme fisherman.

He paddles kilometres out to sea under his own power in a 15ft kayak in pursuit of only the biggest, baddest fish.

Cobia, mackerel, king fish, marlin and golden trevally are just a few large species he has landed over the years.

With more than 20 years experience under his belt, he has some wild stories from the deep blue yonder.

"I saw some older guys paddling out to Cook Island of Fingal when I was in my late teens. They were talking it up so within a month I had got a job and bought myself my first kayak," Mr Barrie said.

"I used to fish in the river but got bored of that pretty quickly."

Armed with only a rod, gaff, hat, sunscreen and an apple, he paddles off the beach at Snapper Rocks, Palm Beach or Fingal to get himself a feed.

"Sometimes I have had to lie sideways across the kayak to stop it rolling over while line goes out the back at a hundred miles an hour."

It was where it all started, at Fingal's Cook Island, that Mr Barrie and a friend had their scariest experience.

"I had caught a load of king fish and was about to head in when I saw a little shark and thought, isn't he cute.

"Another and another shark appeared and a feeding frenzy began all around us.

"I just sat still and tried to paddle very slowly away from it - that's when it appeared."

"It" refers to the largest of apex ocean predators, a great white shark.

"It came up beside the kayak and turned on its side, staring me in the face with its eye that was the size of the bottom of a tallie beer bottle," Mr Barrie said, with the image still clearly vivid in his memory bank.

"At that point you just know you are helpless and this huge creature, that must have been near 20ft long, could crack you and the kayak in half like a peanut."

Despite this, Mr Barrie is dead against shark nets.

"I rescue marine life from the nets all the time - turtles, manta ray, large fish and even sharks."


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