Three fish doesn’t sound like a whole lot when you’re catching mackerel or bass. However, when you find a bluefin tuna in your net, it’s a totally different story. For the captains of Wicked Tuna, three is the magic number when they load up their vessels each day.
The Atlantic bluefin tuna is the largest of the species. On average, the ginormous fish can reach up to 13 feet in length and 2,000 pounds. As of 2020, bluefin tuna can cost between $20 to $40 per pound, racking up to a big paycheck for the fishermen depending on the market demand and quality of the fish.
According to Captain Dave Carraro of the FV-Tuna.com, back when he fished off the coast of Gloucester, Mass., he could get as little as $1,500 to $20,000 for a 500-pound fish.
So, for the stars of Wicked Tuna, they’ll always try to max out their haul as best as they can. And though three might sound like a pretty easy number for professional fishermen, the harsh Atlantic waters and elusive behavior of the fish prove otherwise.
“We’re allowed to catch about three fish per day, so after we catch one fish, we really don’t come in until we’ve exhausted all of our fuel, all of the provisions, you know,” Carraro said in a past interview with Boston Magazine. “We try and catch three per trip, but that doesn’t always happen. Most of the time we come back with just one.”
‘Wicked Tuna’ Captains Often Don’t Max Out Their Catches
Perhaps the most challenging, frustrating and rewarding part of Wicked Tuna is the fact that the catch ultimately has the advantage. Weather, water patterns and other indicators that we can’t control affect the behaviors of fish. All the captains can do is hope that their preparations and knowledge of the species and area are enough to bring in the bluefin. However, as Captain Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise shared, sometimes a big haul–or even one at all–isn’t in the cards.
“A lot of times on the show it shows us doing things a day at a time, but in real life we’re out there without coming home for three days or even five days, and on occasion, even after that much time, we come home empty,” Marciano explained. “We just hope that the next time we go out, we can make up for it. It’s one of the hard things about being a fisherman. Sometimes it gets very stressful on the home front when we don’t know where the next check is coming for groceries.”
Despite the hardships of the job, Marciano claimed he wouldn’t change anything about his career at sea.
“Yeah, people say it’s hard because you fish all winter, and it’s cold and rough and windy, but the bottom line is that I love my job,” the Wicked Tuna captain said. “This day and age, if you can make a living and enjoy your job, life isn’t all that bad.”