Story by Lehia Apana | Photo by Jason Moore | Video by Corey Tanaka
TITLE: kiteboard fisherman
LINE OF WORK: What Sam Reynolds does is so fringe, he’s not even sure what to call it.
“It’s basically kiteboarding combined with a trolling style of fishing,” he says, explaining that, by modifying the harness he wears around his midsection, he’s attached simultaneously to the sail in front, and a fishing line in back.
Whereas fishing from a boat typically involves reeling in the catch, kiteboarders often opt to drag the fish ashore. That’s the hard part, says Sam, who estimates that he loses about half of the fish he hooks.
“It’s stressful when you hook the fish, because it wants to go out to sea and you’re trying to take him to the beach while making sure you don’t lose your board or drop your kite.”
GETTING ONBOARD: French brothers Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux invented kiteboarding in the mid-1980s. As had happened with other adrenaline-pumping watersports before it — and thanks to Maui’s reliable trade winds and watersport culture — the island soon became the mecca for kiteboarding.
“Ten or fifteen years ago, if you were going to be serious about kiteboarding you moved to Maui. That’s why I came here,” says the Texas native.
The kiteboard-fishing community gathers each July 4 for a tournament at Kanahā Beach Park. Last year’s event drew around thirty competitors, with Sam earning the top prize for biggest catch with a five-pound ʻōmilu.
BALANCING ACT: As a longtime kiteboarder, Sam says maneuvering over the currents and waves is now second nature — but he still expresses a healthy respect for the ocean.
“As soon as you’re out there on the water, you’re in the wilderness. It’s far enough offshore where things could go really wrong. There’s also a freedom that balances things, so you’re able to let everything go and just have fun.”
On the day of this interview, Sam nabbed his biggest fish yet — a fifteen-pound ulua caught near Baldwin Beach in Pāʻia.