Bri Andrassy has always dreamed big when it comes to fishing, but she wasn’t prepared for the excitement and satisfaction of the biggest catch of her life.
Andrassy, of Jupiter, was fishing 30 miles off the Pacific coast of Mexico recently when she caught and released a 200-pound striped marlin after a 4½-hour fight. From a kayak.
“It was the wildest ride of my life,” said Andrassy, who went to Mexico specifically to catch a marlin.
The marlin towed her 14-foot Hobie kayak for the first hour of the fight, then it sounded and stayed down.
“There was no budging it,” she said. “The harder I fought, the harder the fish would fight. So I reeled very discreetly to try to get it up.”
Using her kayak to create drag and tire the marlin, she eventually got the fish to the surface, but as soon as it jumped, it would go right back down. The marlin nearly spooled Andrassy’s fishing reel three different times.
Four hours into the fight the marlin was close enough to the kayak for Andrassy to grab the leader for an official catch. Before pulling in the leader to bring the fish closer, Andrassy wisely loosened the drag of her reel and put down the rod. As soon as the marlin felt the pressure on the leader, it took off, and it would have taken the rod and reel with it if not for Andrassy’s foresight.
She finally got the fish back up after fighting it for 30 more minutes. This time she grabbed the marlin’s bill and pedaled her foot-powered Hobie while she held the fish alongside the kayak to revive it, and the marlin swam away strongly as an exhausted Andrassy looked on.
“Prettiest fish I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said.
That covers a lot of fish for Andrassy, who grew up near Philadelphia and caught her first fish when she was 3 years old.
Andrassy is a doctor of nursing practice who teaches undergraduate nursing at a local university. Since moving to South Florida nine years ago, she has fished locally from all types of vessels.
They include her Hobie Outback kayak, which she fishes from in Jupiter as well as offshore out of Palm Beach and Boynton Beach. She also fishes from her Sea Doo personal watercraft off Jupiter, and she even fishes and dives from her stand-up paddleboard. Many of her adventures, including this latest one, are documented on her YouTube channel “BA Fishing” and her Facebook page of the same name.
Her first big dream was to catch a sailfish from a kayak.
“That goes way back to when I was a kid,” Andrassy said. “My mom actually taught my dad how to fish and on their honeymoon they went to Cancun, Mexico. My mom caught a 10- or 11-foot Pacific sailfish and my dad caught a 7-footer but you never hear about his, you only hear about hers. They got hers mounted, so my whole life I grew up looking at a sailfish on the wall. I thought it was the prettiest fish.”
Soon after arriving in Jupiter, Andrassy started fishing inshore from a paddleboard. Then she was invited to fish offshore from a kayak.
“I’m like, ‘You’re kidding me. You catch tuna from a kayak?’ ” she said. “It was very common for these kayak fishermen to catch sailfish and that blew my mind. I’ve wanted to catch a sailfish my whole life. My mom caught one on a charter, somebody baited her hook for her. So my thing was, ‘All right, my first sailfish, I want to catch off the kayak and that’s the story I’m going to tell my kids,’ because I always had my mom’s.
“It finally happened a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago off Palm Beach, and it was wild, watching the fish breech and just how beautiful it was.”
After that achievement, Andrassy went to a kayak fishing resort in Panama to catch roosterfish, among other species. While she was fishing, another angler unintentionally hooked a huge black marlin that headed for Andrassy’s kayak and jumped before breaking the line.
“I never forgot that image of this marlin breeching out of the water and being so close to it,” Andrassy said. “The rest of the trip, every single minute I was fishing for a marlin. I just trolled for a marlin and didn’t get a hit, nothing, but I did get a really nice mahi.”
After a second trip to Panama with no marlin despite trolling for eight or nine hours every day in her kayak, Andrassy decided to fish in Magdalena Bay in December, where boats called pangas could take kayakers 30 miles off San Carlos, Mexico.
When she told the panga captains that she wanted to catch a marlin, they said, “Wait, what do you want to do?” But they were up for the challenge.
They knew what they were doing. On her first day of fishing, moments after Andrassy had pushed her kayak away from the panga, her striped marlin ate the live mackerel on the end of her 80-pound monofilament line on a Shimano Talica conventional reel.
“I didn’t believe it. I was shocked,” she said. “The captain thought it was hilarious.”
Four and a half hours later, no one had a bigger smile than Bri Andrassy.