I sat down with the captains of National Geographic’s “Wicked Tuna” to talk about their biggest catches, highest prices per pound and their most memorable tuna experiences.
What is the biggest tuna you have caught?
Brad Krasowski: My biggest tuna was 920 pounds dressed. It was an older fish, loaded with white cloud (a type of internal scar tissue from fighting and escaping other fisherman over its life) I only got money for the good meat they could get out of it.
Dave Marciano: 1,200 pounds, 118 inches, caught in 2005.
TJ Ott: 1,250 pounds, 125 inches; it was caught off of Cape Cod in 2009.
Paul Hebert: It was in the skiff with my dad, the fish was 1,287 pounds, and we caught two that day by hand line. The other fish was 1,174 pounds. Both fish were around 126 inches. I was 11 or 12; it was back in 1977, and we caught them off of Provincetown.”
Dave Carraro: 1,200-plus pounds, 128 inches.
Tyler McLaughlin: My biggest tuna caught was 1,269 pounds.
What was your highest price paid per pound?
BK: Highest amount per pound for a tuna was only in the upper $20s. I never got a moon shot!
DM: $35 a pound for a 450-pound fish. That was back in 1998.
TJO: $27 per pound in North Carolina in 2004, but in the mid 1990s my dad got one for $44 pound in Gloucester.
PH: Two years ago I got $47.02 per pound for a July 12 fish. I had brought in one of the only tuna that on the market at that time. To this day, I still have the text from the buyer saved on my phone.
DC: $33 per pound was my highest price payout.
TM: $32 a pound for a 497-pound (dressed) fish.
Tell me about your most memorable tuna experience.
BK: My most memorable tuna battle was with Paul on Wicked Pissah, Season 5 when we had a quad on the show. Off the show it was last October, with my son Brad. He caught his first giant. I will never forget what a natural he was. It was like watching me catching tuna when I was a teenybopper.
DM: My son Joe was fishing with my nephew/mate, Jay, and I. Joe was only 11 at the time and just happened to be fishing with us. We knew it was a big fish, we could see it on the screen, but we couldn’t hook him. Joe was trying to jig up a bait and finally Joe jigged up a live pollock, and we all came in to watch the machine. And we all saw the fish charge up and grab the bait, and three hours later we landed our biggest fish ever — regardless of what we got paid for it, we’ll always remember that moment.
TJO: As far as tuna memories go, the one that sticks out is when we had the bluefin up behind the boat in the chum just eating out of our hands. It’s happened a few times in Gloucester, but the first time I really saw them do this was around Thanksgiving, the tuna had come down from PEI. We wouldn’t even put the lines out, we would just feed them a hooked bait. The fish would just come to the boat boiling; it’s the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen.
PH: It was just before “Wicked Tuna” started. I was fishing with Dave Carraro on Georges Bank in early September. Sandro, Dave and I were fighting one fish, and there were so many fish under the boat, we put another line out and suddenly we were fighting a double. We got the second fish while still fighting the first fish. We tied up the second one, threw out another line and hooked a third fish and caught that one. Five hours later, we had caught two fish while still fighting that first fish, which took 10 or 11 hours to finally land.”
DC: It was 12 hours and paid very well.
TM: Bringing in three fish for a $27,790 payday.”
Next week: The Wicked Tuna captains talk about how the show has affected Gloucester, Mass., and commercial fishermen worldwide.
Wicked Tuna airs Sunday nights at 9 Eastern and 8 Central on National Geographic. All the action leads up to the 100th episode and season finale on June 24.