It’s an early Saturday morning and 17-year-old Ryder DeVoe is getting ready to leave Catalina Island. But instead of wrapping up a beach getaway or surf trek, the Encinitas native was on a spearfishing trip.
“I never thought this was going to turn into what it did,” explains DeVoe who has a passion for the sport, his notoriety in which has been boosted by his popular Instagram account on which he chronicles his fishing exploits. “It’s been incredible.”
DeVoe has spent much of his life in or near the water. Growing up in Encinitas, the North County native started hitting the waves when he was just a year old, tandem surfing with his father. Becoming an avid surfer, it was on a surf excursion when DeVoe’s deep dive into the world of spearfishing first took shape.
“One time I went on a trip to Fiji and the waves were totally flat,” he remembers. “We had nothing to do, so I borrowed my buddy Eddie’s full spear and tried it out. It wound up being insanely fun and I got into it.”
From there, once DeVoe arrived back in the U.S., he traded his surfboard for spearfishing gear and began spearing halibut and got “more and more hooked.”
“With fishing you have the comfort of the boat. But with spearfishing, you’re in the water with all of the action and can actually see the fish,” DeVoe says of the difference between spearfishing and regular fishing. “You get to understand how fish react to predators and it’s just a lot more exciting. You never know what’s going to swim up to you from behind.”
Whether DeVoe is in Fiji or Southern California, he’s made it a habit of photographing his journey with the best shots finding their way to his Instagram (@MidHandle), which has collected thousands of followers and fans from around the world:
“The biggest thing was that I was posting constant pictures of good waves and fish. People just started liking it,” he says.
What began as something to simply share his experiences, has turned into a business for DeVoe as spearfishing brands caught on and started reaching out to him for sponsorship opportunities.
“I’ll post photos which gear companies send to me,” he explains, with his sponsored companies going so far as to send him on entire trips with the understanding he’ll later promote their product. DeVoe has worked with a variety of top brands, from sunglasses company Smith Optics to clothing company DaKine.
DeVoe’s Instagram followers have been along for all of his aquatic adventures, including a recent trip to Ascension Island.
“While I was there, I got a 165-pound yellowfin tuna, but my most memorable fish in my life was a fish I lost,” DeVoe says. “I shot a 250-pound yellowfin tuna and it wound up swimming away and taking all of my gear with it.”
These days, DeVoe likes to spearfish anywhere he can, whether it’s closer to home — “there’s great diving for yellowtail and sea bass all up and down the California coast, starting at Point Loma all the way up to Santa Barbara” — or the aforementioned Ascension Island, which DeVoe says there’s “nowhere like it because there’s giant tuna everywhere. It’s kind of like going back in time because it’s not fished out.”
After taking online courses, DeVoe graduated high school earlier this year (a full year ahead of schedule) and plans on attending Palomar in the fall. As for what’s next in his spearfishing career?
“I’m going to continue for as long as I can,” DeVore says.