I must admit that I write a fishing column because of the encouragement of my beloved editor.
no formal training, I definitely prefer to write summaries of the
area's fishing reports and some of my own fishing adventures. I truly
do not enjoy being the person who goes out to the scene with a pad and
a pen to take notes and talk to people.
It's just not me.
I also have to admit that I was all too willing to accept that type of
assignment when the editor asked me to attend the screening of the new
National Geographic Channel series, "Wicked Tuna: North versus South,"
along with reporter Catherine Kozak, who wrote last week in Island Free Press about the preview party.
wasn't all giddy about this assignment because of the fishing
celebrities I would meet, but I was excited to have the chance to cover
what might be a game changer for the Outer Banks area.
believed for quite some time that the Outer Banks needs national
exposure to promote its fishing. We need something to put our
world-class fleets, marinas, and fishing grounds in the face of the
masses -- and this might just do that.
This program could potentially help drive fishermen to our waters -- anglers who wouldn't necessarily come this way.
states aggressively promote their fishing, and I have to say that I
and many others are disappointed that North Carolina does a poor job in
this realm. Commercial and recreational fishing are a massive industry
for coastal Carolina and they need to be promoted to the fullest.
last Thursday night I could be found wandering around the Pirate's Cove
pavilion with my camera bag over my shoulder and a pad and pen in my
It was truly a first for me.
I just wanted the
opportunity to talk with the cast members, especially the northern
captains. I wanted to know just how the original "Wicked Tuna," which
has aired for three seasons now, has affected their port town of
To my dismay, there was only one cast member
from the North, Paul Hebert. But truthfully that was okay because
anyone who has followed the show the past few years would know that
Paul is an excellent fisherman.
I went over and introduced myself and went straight into firing off my most important question.
"Did Wicked Tuna help Gloucester?"
immediately fired back that it literally saved the town. He explained
that Gloucester was basically almost bankrupt and that the town and its
people were in a terrible economic situation.
changed all of that and Paul says the town's economics have turned
around considerably, with many near-dead businesses bustling again. He
added that plenty of anglers are coming there for their chance to bag a
monster bluefin tuna.
Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner.
the Outer Banks is far from a dying area, there are plenty of captains
that will tell you that their business has fallen off in the past
And it is very possible that the exposure from the new series will help drive some anglers their way.
is true that both the original and the new series revolve around the
commercial harvest of bluefin tuna. But the recreational hunt for these
powerhouse fish has always been popular.
It's been only about
five years since I caught my first bluefin. I had only heard stories of
the bluefin's ferocity and while my first one was only 140 pounds, it
made a believer out of me. These fish are no joke and can easily grow
to well over 500 pounds and larger.
Paul also went on to say
that this series changed his life. He explained that he had fallen down
an elevator shaft and had serious injuries to his legs and back.
was actually living in Vermont with his mother, who was taking care of
him, at the time he interviewed for the show. He told me he arrived at
the interview and walked in with the assistance of a cane.
those that do not know Paul from the show, he is definitely one of the
best fisherman and one of the most likable. He is able to use the New
England slang word, "pissah," as a noun, adjective, verb and adverb in
his own way. He generally can be seen with a big smile and a loud,
Paul has used his newly found celebrity status
by traveling around and helping with nonprofit fishing
organizations and fundraisers. He said that the show had bettered his
life and he hoped to do the same for others.
It wasn't too long before Greg Mayer of the Fishing Frenzy stopped by the table.
and his mate, Nick, joined the series this season representing one of
the southern boats and he definitely believes this show has the
potential to boost the area's fishing charter business.
believes that those that follow the original "Wicked Tuna" will see
just how many bluefin are in our area in season, as opposed to New
One thing Paul Hebert said during a question-and-answer
session after the preview was that he saw more fishing our waters in
two weeks, than he saw out of Gloucester in six months.
huge considering the longest standing argument over these fish is that
the northern fleets have a higher commercial quota than the southern
I would've liked to have had the opportunity to speak
with Britton Shackelford about his role on the show representing the
South with his boat, The Doghouse, but it didn't work out.
certain that Britton's number one goal is to raise awareness about the
bluefin population in our waters and use this show as a platform to
promote change to the regulations. Britton has been an outspoken voice
for the North Carolina Waterman United for some time now.
is a collective of North Carolina commercial fisherman who are trying
to protect their jobs and heritage, as many local commercial fishermen
come from generations of watermen.
I found the show to be quite entertaining, as opposed to the original.
You will see many more fish swimming and busting the surface than you might imagine.
the show is edited, the banter between the boats is coached, the price
the fish bring at the market is false -- but that's Hollywood. It will
still pique the interest of anglers around the county.
I saw some ripping of the show on social media and forums.
Hebert told me most Gloucestermen didn't want anything to do with the
show when it first came about, but that has all changed.
I do not know who wins the North vs. South battle and wouldn't tell if I did.
say watch the show whether for some good, old-fashioned entertainment
with some familiar faces and sights -- or watch it to pick it apart.
Let's give this a chance and see if it can make a difference in the charter business on the Outer Banks.
I doubt it can hurt.
Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 13 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,
Release Reels, Yakattack and is an ambassador for Ugly Stik. You can
follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)