On week 14 of the Bluefin tuna season, with less than two weeks of fishing left, the top four Gloucester crews are locked in a tight race to be New England’s best Bluefin boat. With less than $11,000 – or one good Bluefin -‐ separating the top boat and the vessel in fourth place on the leaderboard, it’s still anyone’s game.
Captain Dave Marciano, of the Hard Merchandise, may have the slowest and most rundown boat in the fleet, but that hasn’t stopped him and his first mate and nephew Jay Muenzner from rising to the top this season. Hard work and determination – and Dave readily admits, a good bit of luck too – have seen the family operation land more tuna than any other boat so far this season. And last week, their impressive three fish haul helped push them from third place on the leaderboard and into the top spot. Determined to keep grinding his way all the way until the fat tuna sings on his Cinderella season, Dave and Jay are back on the spot that paid sweet dividends last week.
But with three other boats just narrowly behind Hard Merchandise in the tuna count and gunning for them, Dave and Jay will need to be on their A‐game for the final two weeks of fishing if they’re going to close out the season as champion.
Gloucester’s two-time top-earning captain Dave Carraro, of FV-Tuna.Com, is in second place on the leaderboard and he’s not happy about it. Last year, Dave lapped the field and more than doubled the nearest boat in earnings. But this year has been a whole different kettle of fish. After getting off to a slow start and falling behind early in the season, Dave, first mate Sandro Maniaci and deckhand Geordie Sousa fished hard and inched their way back to the top of the leaderboard. But with the competition tougher than ever before, over the past few weeks they’ve struggled to hold onto the lead and after Hard Merchandise’s epic $14,000 trip last week, Dave is again playing catch-up–and he’ll have some challenges ahead this week.
TJ Ott, captain of the Hot Tuna, was sitting in third place hoping for a good week to launch them into the top spot. Hot Tuna started out the season strong, then struggled during the middle of the season. But over the past three weeks of fishing, they’ve caught five tunas and earned almost $26,000–considerably more than any other boat during the same period–and TJ is determined to continue their hot streak. Nothing is going to come easy, and this week fishing will be a round-the‐clock battle for the family crew.
Captain Tyler McLaughlin, of the Pin Wheel, was in fourth place at the start of this week- but he cannot be counted out. Two years ago Tyler was Gloucester’s top-earning Bluefin captain and after a nightmare season last year where he caught only three tuna, he is determined to reclaim glory and end the season on top. And after a small dry spell when they were starting to fall behind, Pin Wheel’s highest-grade catch of the season came at the perfect time, propelling them into thrid place on the leaderboard knocking Hot Tuna to 4th place.
Re-live the moment in this week’s Catch of the Week:
Don’t miss the special two-hour season finale of Wicked Tuna this Sunday at 9/8c.