The competition was fierce last night on the season 3 premiere of Wicked Tuna. Hot Tuna Captain TJ Ott may be new in town, but he’s a familiar face to The Pin Wheel Captain Tyler McLaughlin. Tyler was TJ’s first mate for four years, and worked exclusively on the Hot Tuna before going off to Captain The Pin Wheel. TJ says that Tyler went to school on the Hot Tuna, but then stole his numbers (fishing coordinates) and started his own boat. Now TJ is out to prove that while Tyler may think he’s the teacher, he’s still the student. And while typically fishing off the coast of Miami, when TJ heard Tyler was catching so many fish in the Gloucester area, he decided to make his return to northern waters. These gentlemen better watch out because there’s a new boat in town, and the Hot Tuna is ready to rough up the waters.
**Spoiler Alert** If you haven’t seen last night’s episode, the following contains spoilers:
On the season 3 opener, it’s the first day of the fishing season and the captains have one thing on their mind… the first catch. Because for these captains, the first fish is not just about money, but about bragging rights.
Tyler and The Pin Wheel caught the most fish last season, and FV-Tuna.com Captain Dave Carraro is ready to silence Tyler after spending a winter hearing his bragging.
Sure enough, Dave snags the first fish right in front of Tyler. The FV-Tuna.com guys are hooting and hollering… but with just 100 feet left, the hook pops out. As the fishermen know all too well, “The fish is never yours until you’ve got the tail rope on it, and even then sometimes it’s still not yours,” laments Dave. Tyler heckles Dave over the intercom and calls it karma for fishing in his spot.
Hard Merchandise Captain Dave Marciano is back at dock a few hours behind the other boats. We left off last season watching the Hard Merchandise sink into the water. But after the boat sank, the community rallied and helped Marciano get back in the water. “It was a great feeling to know that when I was down, Gloucester had my back,” says Marciano. Now equipped with a new engine, new wiring, and all new electronics, the Hard Merchandise is like a brand new boat, and Marciano sees the sinking as a blessing.
Meanwhile, new face TJ and veteran Dave are bonding over their mutual rivalry with Tyler, but then TJ throws a curveball… “I’m mostly here for him, but then I’m coming for you.” Right on cue, TJ hooks a Bluefin. And the fight for the first catch begins on the Hot Tuna.
But not long after, Dave hooks one too. And while it’s a close fight, FV-Tuna.com makes the first catch of the season. Dave decides he doesn’t want to stick around to wait for fish #2, he wants to be the first boat back to dock with the first Bluefin of the season to guarantee the most competitive market price. Dave returns to dock to see what type of quality fish he has caught. The price per pound is based on the fat and oil content of the fish, and samples are taken from a tail cut and a core sample. Dave’s fish gets a whopping 23 dollars per pound and at 226 pounds, he brings in over five thousand dollars for the first fish of the season. FV-Tuna.com goes right back out to the same spot hoping to bring in another fish.
Not far behind, Hot Tuna’s battle pays off and the new boat makes the next catch. Hot Tuna is hot on FV-Tuna.com’s heels and is next at the dock ready to get their offer, pulling up right as FV-Tuna.com is heading back out to water.
Meanwhile, back at sea, Tyler’s in the path of a large boat with a tuna on the line. And since Tyler is the lone wolf and star of his 1-man crew, this means he has to man the reel and the wheel. Somehow, Tyler manages to steer out of the way while the boat is coming at him and still keep his tuna on the line. Once the fish is close enough, Tyler goes in for the harpoon- but misses. Tyler can tell he’s up against a wise fish whose been hooked before and knows what he’s doing, making high circles, and fighting for its life… but tyler’s fighting harder. And finally, Tyler catches him… all by himself.
Back over at the Hard Merchandise, Marciano can’t catch what isn’t here, and after a slow day he wraps things up.
Dave’s having a slow day after the big catch and he’s about to call it quits when a fish starts marking on the radar. “That’s the thing about Bluefin fishing. One moment you can be totally bored, wondering why you’re out there, and the next minute two 500 fish are right under your nose,” says Dave. And his patience pays off, but only for a moment. The fish is not hooked in the right spot, and he gets away. The only choice, the only option really, is to roll with the punches and get back out there.
But over on the Hot Tuna, TJ’s luck hasn’t run out, and they hook another fish. And while it’s not the prettiest catch and they nearly lose him, they snag their second fish, and back at dock they learn the quality of the fish is off the charts. The Hot Tuna brings in over 15,000 dollars after what is possibly the biggest first trip in Hot Tuna’s history.
TJ comes on the intercom to tell the other boats the news of his second catch, “I know it’s been a while, but we’re back and there’s more to come on the old HT. It’s going to be a good year.”
But as these fishermen know, it’s a marathon… not a sprint. Will Hot Tuna hold on to the lead? Tune in next Sunday at 9P to find out. Be sure to visit the leaderboard to check in on this week’s earnings, and vote for your favorite boat.