In the Wicked Tuna second season debut on Nat Geo Channel, the race to catch the first tuna of the season had dollar signs tantalizing the captains.
And they're off --- the men and women of Wicked Tuna got their rods and reels whirring in the season premiere entitled "Back in the Hunt".
National Geographic Channel's reality show is at its heart a program about competition within a small and dedicated community in and around Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The first catch of the season brings in big bucks because the market is starved for bluefin tuna, with the best of the bunch netting fishermen up to $20 a pound. You can see what all the fuss is about for fish that weigh in at hundreds of pounds, some close to 1,000.
The second season has introduced us to new captain Tyler McLaughlin, 24 and the men of The Pin Wheel .
A bunch of upstart young men who hail from neighboring New Hampshire, they are looking to make a name for themselves. The Pin Wheel isn't courting trouble, but is ready if it comes.
The Wicked Tuna Nat Geo website indicates that Tyler's "...privileged background has afforded him his own boat at a young age." That alone is enough to make the others wanna beat him to the punch.
When we picked up the action on Captain Bill Monte's ship, The Bounty Hunter, we rode along with him and his wife of more than 35 years, Donna and their First Mate Scott Ferreiro.
Out of the box, The Bounty Hunter hooked a huge fish, which according to Ferreiro is the biggest one he's tried to reel in.
After more than an hour and a half and miles from where the boat was anchored when the chase began, the fish that felt like 1,000 lbs. if not more was lost.
Bill Monte's got to make up for a poor season in 2011, especially when he believes he was hurt by bad instructions from another captain.
That would be Dave Carraro, last season's big winner and a man who understands the nature of competition. Read: Can Dave Carraro do it again?
The owner and operator of the F-V-Tuna.com, Carraro is blunt.
"I feel differently than most other fishermen. I'm systematic. I' don't go there for no reason. I definitely think that helps us catch more fish . We had a very good year last year and we've got the bulls eye on our back. That's my driving force."
Captain Dave Marciano believes he knows how to locate his prey, but when he gets there, he isn't happy when the fish that takes his bait is a shark, rather than a tuna.
It costs him and the crew of The Hard Merchandise time and money. "When we hook a shark, it's a nuisance. Because it costs money. The hook gets destroyed. Every time I have to cut it off, it's $30.00."
It can also cut off a fingertip or two. Marciano fishes without gloves and when a huge fish is bending the line, woe to the man or woman whose digits get ensnared.
What's the Leaderboard say?
Dave Carraro's first catch brought him $18 a pound for a 323 lb. blue fin tuna and a total of $5,814.00. Nice start to his season.
Dave Marciano's first tuna weighed in at 504 pounds and he got $14/lb. for it, to bring in a tasty $7,056.00. He's getting off to a good start as well.
Tyler's first catch was a 600+ lb. monster for which he got a cool $14.50 per pound. That is a total of $8,845.00. He gloated via radio to the others. No one gave him the pleasure of a reply.
It's easy to see the game is on!
Catch that action next week on Nat Geo's Wicked Tuna, airing Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. CT. Image: Nat Geo/Wicked Tuna
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