‘Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks’: Before Tuna Fishing, Captain Bobby Earl Spent Years Working on Wall Street

by Amy Myers

Most fans of Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks won’t be able to picture Captain Bobby Earl of Reel E’ Bugging in a suit and tie. But actually, before the ocean called his name, the only ebbs and flows Earl saw were the ones in stocks. For thirty years, the future tuna captain worked in the financial sector of Wall Street at the mercy of the market. It wasn’t until the fateful crash in 2008 when Earl finally made a career change.

On Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks, Captain Bobby Earl and his vessel troll the Atlantic Ocean for the elusive bluefin tuna. He and three other ships fight for the title of most tuna caught each winter. Previously, in Season 6, Earl and his crew snatched the victory and brought in more money than any other ship on the show in the process. Since then, the Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks star has adopted a new vessel, Bed Bugs 2.0 after a devastating fire on board.

Even with the loss of his first boat, Captain Earl never regrets the drastic change in careers. Believing you’re never too old to chase your dreams, he looks back on his journey to the ocean with pride.

‘Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks’ Captain Switches From Wall Street to Bed Sheets

After the stock market crash of 2008, future Captain Bobby Earl found himself out of a job. Three years beforehand, Earl switched from the financial sector to management, so even if he wanted to continue his job in another location, he would have to start from scratch. That’s when a friend approached him with a job opportunity. At first, Earl was hesitant, but like a bad bug bite, his friend kept nagging him.

“At that time, I had a friend in the bed bug business. He said, ‘I know you like your suit and tie, but I have an idea,'” Earl recalled. “And I’m like, ‘Bed bugs? Are you out of your frikkin’ mind?’ And that’s how it started.”

Earl ran with the bed bug industry, creating a company of his own with his oldest son. But soon, Earl would give in to a different passion. He named his vessel after the job that allowed him to pursue his passion.

“I would sneak away for three months every year to go tuna fishing in the Outer Banks. That was the progression,” the Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks star shared. “That’s how the name of the boat came about. My thought was, bed bugs paid for the boat! Reel E’ Bugging.”

Finally, Captain Earl jumped ship from the bed bug industry, leaving the company with his son. And though he dedicated both his boats’ names to his former profession, he doesn’t regret the transition for a second.

“My escape was always the ocean,” Earl said.