couple of months ago, rumors that the popular National Geographic (Nat
Geo) reality show, “Wicked Tuna,” was coming to the Outer Banks to film
began to swirl.
Even in this small community, confirming this rumor was a difficult task.
was a Craigslist posting in late November asking for area boat captains
and crews who may be interested in participating to contact producers.
even when it was confirmed that the producers were in town and
interviewing captains and crews, the info was still hard to come by.
In this small beach community, lack of information is a rarity.
knows someone in every major industry in every little corner of the
Outer Banks and getting information is never the problem -- weeding out
fact versus fiction is usually the only issue.
One can be
assured that every person involved or interviewed was forced to sign a
non-disclosure agreement, so few are willing to speak.
I have contacted Nat Geo a couple of times trying to get more information on this topic, but to no avail.
Geographic is a huge corporation that every last one of us can remember
from our childhood. It is big business and the company is going to
control the flow of information and keep everyone coming directly to
them for the latest news.
Finally, we have a confirmation. Just
last week Nat Geo made it clear that they were starting a new spinoff
of the popular series and that it was being filmed in the waters off
the Outer Banks.
"Wicked Tuna: North vs. South" had been born.
Most avid saltwater or freshwater anglers have seen the show or at least know the premise of it.
for the rest of you, “Wicked Tuna” follows several boats that
commercially fish for bluefin tuna in the waters off Gloucester, Mass.
the Outer Banks, Gloucester is rich in commercial fishing history and
bluefin are one of the area's premier, commercial fish.
reality show highlights the chase for these fish and the cut-throat
business that it involves. Bluefin tuna are a prized fish, especially
in the world of sushi.
Some bluefin tuna can bring as much as
$10,000 to $30,000 per fish in the U.S., based on size and meat
quality. The same fish then could be sold at auction in Asian markets
for hundreds of thousands of dollars. One recently sold for over a
The highest quality bluefin that are brought to U.S.
fish markets are rapidly beheaded, gutted, packed on ice, and put on
the first direct flight to Asia within several hours of being caught.
Yeah, this is serious business.
On the flip side, commercial and recreational bluefin tuna fishing is currently the most controversial fishery in the U.S.
and environmental groups have been arguing for years that the bluefin
tuna is on the verge of extinction. Most opponents of this fishery want
a full ban on the commercial and recreational harvest of these fish and
want bluefin tuna deemed an endangered species.
species listing would make targeting these fish, even for catch and
release, illegal. The U.S. already has size and bag limits in place,
along with national quotas.
Proponents of the bluefin tuna
fishery argue that it's the rest of the world who blast the stock the
hardest, places where there is little to no regulation on catching the
Bluefin are like all their tuna brethren in the sense they
are built for speed and power, so they are a highly sought after
recreational fish also.
However, bluefin are consistently the
largest of the tuna family with some fish hitting close to a 1,000
pounds regularly in the waters off New England.
anglers come to the Outer Banks in droves to fight the toughest fish
known to man. One cannot begin to understand the power of these fish if
you have never caught one. It's a game changer for an avid angler.
Gloucester and the Outer Banks are popular destinations for
recreational and commercial fishing for bluefin -- simply because there
is big money involved in it.
A full-blown ban on this fishery would have serious economic impacts all along their migratory trail in the U.S.
But those arguments are best left for another day or better yet another columnist-- I support the fishery.
Tuna” first premiered on Nat Geo on April 1, 2012 with a million
viewers tuned in. That's a big deal. It's rare to see a new reality
show bring those types of numbers on its opening night, especially on a
I am sure there were interested proponents and opponents glued to their TVs for that show.
Tuna” has a fair following on Facebook and other social media sites,
although, “Wicked Tuna's” 120,000 followers on Facebook is just a
dusting compared to the 2.7 million followers for Discovery Channel's,
Having aired two full seasons and awaiting
the start of the third in February of this year, “Wicked Tuna” has
definitely generated a decent fan base.
After most episodes air, you can find chatter on social media and other web forums pertaining to the episode.
are quick to pick apart any inconsistency they can find. It's not hard
to generally key in on the fact that one reel is shown screaming with a
bite, but moments later you might notice the rod and reel the angler is
fighting on is completely different.
It is hard at times to find "real" in reality TV.
do not think things are scripted, but I do know that certain things and
situations are coached by the producers, directors or cameramen.
and producers are in business only if the ratings for their programs
are there, so adding a little drama to the scene is almost a must.
most reality TV shows are full of melodramatic events. Fights among
families, co-workers, or the competition is almost a must in all
“Wicked Tuna” has its own drama among its competing captains.
show not only follows the exploits of the boats and their crews, but
also highlights which ones are pulling down the most money each season.
boat may catch three bluefin tuna and add up some serious coin very
quickly, only to have another boat deck a monster tuna that is worth
more than all three of the other boat's fish.
This always leads to endless smack talking and competition amongst the boats and crews featured in the show.
At times, some of the captains seem to be very aggressive with one another.
so much money at stake, I am sure this is true to a degree and at times
just flamed up by producers and good ol’ fashioned editing.
These boats and crews fish very differently for their bluefin than most in our area are accustomed to.
generally anchor up and live bait for them, while chunking bait and
sending out chum slicks. At times, an episode may consist of the boats
sitting stationary all day for one bite or no bite at all.
It's rare that you see one of these boats get multiple bites.
then, if the boat does get a bite, the melodrama quickly starts right
up! There is an epic battle of give and take between the angler and the
fish, but that is true rod-and-reel fishing for bluefin.
Fish are regularly lost to break-offs or several missed attempts with a harpoon once the fish is beside the boat.
are things I find mighty interesting given the fact that all of the
featured captains are supposedly highly experienced. This is something
you would not expect to see with seasoned fishermen.
But, hey, it's reality TV.
some of these Gloucester men will be calling the Outer Banks home for
the next few months to see how they fair against some of our captains
Our waters are just as rough and unpredictable as
what these guys are used to, but they will have to adapt to an
ever-changing inlet to go back and forth into the blue and face a
variety of different techniques our captains are used to.
Gloucester men are accustomed to seeing fish in the 700 pounds or
greater category. That is a major rarity around here, but the smaller
fish can come by in big numbers.
You probably can expect to see
some of our captains just trolling outright for them or green-sticking
these fish, but sitting still anchored up is something I don’t expect.
I'd expect to see a lot more standing and fighting, as opposed to
fighting from the gunnel.
But what do I know? I am just taking a
stab at how I believe our local boys will do battle. Each boat in this
area has its own method.
Ultimately, this spinoff is to see if
the Yanks can out fish the southern boys and who can earn more money --
one of them or one of us.
I know who I am pulling for.
I am very excited to see this show come here. The Outer Banks has
always lagged in the national broadcasting scene of our fishing.
The Outer Banks helped to shape and mold offshore fishing as the world knows it.
Outer Banks is currently the place where anglers caught the only two
confirmed blue marlin over a 1,000 pounds in the last two decades on
the Eastern Seaboard.
And yet, the area does not have any true,
regular fishing representation on the national broadcasting scene, as
do other areas of the U.S.
I believe this “Wicked Tuna” show will be a positive thing for the Outer Banks, no matter the show's outcome.
Our area commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen and boat builders can use a little exposure on this level.
While this new show is highlighting only one species of fish, I believe any highlight is better than none.
now, I know that some of the Gloucester captains have already made
their appearance on the Banks and are settling in for their scheduled
I am sure Facebook pages and twitter accounts will soon be riddled with sightings and pictures of the famous captains.
Now, it's time to make a few famous captains of our own.
Tuna: North vs. South” is scheduled to film here through March and will
begin airing on the National Geographic Channel in June 2014.
I will continue to collect information and follow this as it unfolds.
Good luck to our boys--show them how it's done!
Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 12 years and has
worked in the recreational fishing industry the entire time. A former
variety fishing TV show host, beach fishing guide, tackle shop and pier
employee, Rob currently owns and operates Outer Banks Kayak Fishing. He
is on the Pro-Staff of Bending Branches LLC, Wilderness Systems Kayaks
and Release Reels. You can follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com