Discovery Channel's New Series FIGHTING TUNA Depicts Cape Cod Fishing
Discovery Channel's new show FIGHTING TUNA has successfully portrayed Cape Cod tuna fishing and fishermen in an accurate manner that is informative, educational and entertaining.
The show features 4 captains who are all dead set on hooking and landing fish that can fetch as much as $20,000 per fish. Of course the one thing Cape Cod fishing is notorious about-the weather-is keeping everyone stuck on the docks during a late October bite.
Cape Cod tuna fishermen fish from relatively small boats, especially considering how angerous, windy and rough fishing hot spots like Stellwagen Bank, Cape Cod Bay and George’s Bank can become. If it is windy on land you can rest assured the wind is howling at George’s Bank-some 150 miles east of Cape Cod.
Waves in these areas reached heights of greater than 25 feet during Hurricane Sandy, which hit Cape Cod this past weekend.
The show begins with Paulie Stern, who has a reputation for catching big tunas and lots of them. He’s heading to Stellwagen Bank, one of the richest fishing gounds on the East Coast of the United States. Paulie is known as a “fish killing machine” who would “much rather be on ocean than on land.”
Anthony is the youngest captain in the fleet and is running the 35 foot Ocean Raider. He fishes a little differently than the other tuna fishermen and prefers to troll and remain on the move instead of anchoring and chumming. Anthony is in a constant search for the “ecosystem” of bait, birds, whales and tuna. Tuna often times can be found feeding amongst various forms of marine life.
Captain Donnie Brag had the most epic quote of the entire show. Brag is quoted as saying “I’m Elvis, I’m back and I’m pissed.” Donnie is off to Stellwagen Bank with Paulie. The day time bite at Stellwagen is slow but things turn hot once the sun sets. Paulie hooks up during the night on the Bank but has trouble close to the boat and snaps the line. First mate Richie Lucas takes the blame for the lost tuna and things get a little tense for a moment.
However unlike National Geographic's tuna fishing show WICKED TUNA, Discovery does not focus in on the tension and disgruntled attitudes. Instead Discovery allows the moment to pass and continues on with new content.
The next morning Donnie runs into one issue that just about everyone fishing Cape Cod can relate with-the dreaded dogfish. Despite being at times considered near endangered, dogfish (small sharks) are a major and persistent problem for Cape Cod tuna fishermen. Dogfish eat baits meant for tuna and wreak havoc on expensive gear.
According to many Cape Cod fishermen, dogfish numbers are out of control as the small sharks literally pave the ocean floor in some areas.
Back at George’s Bank, a long ways from the rest of the fleet is Anthony and his crew. He’s teamed up with sportfishermen Carmine Z. Carmine is a custom home builder on Long Island, NY and tuna fishes for sport. The commerciAl Fishermen don’t seem all that crazy about Carmine, which is expected. Tension between commercial and recreationAl Fishermen off Cape Cod is often quite common.
Carmine calls Anthony in on some life in the form of whales, birds, bait and tuna. Almost immediately upon placing baits in the water Anthony hooks up with a tuna that dumps line from his 130 class fishing reel. Everyone on Anthony's boat is excited while Carmine and crew look on enviously.
While Donnie continues to be molested by dogfish back at Stellwagen Bank, Anthony and crew fight their fish for 30 minutes and successfully land a 95 inch plus giant weighing more than 500 pounds.
This was the first giant that mate Alex had ever caught, so in true Cape Cod tradition Alex takes a bite from the tuna's heart. Eating the heart of a giant bluefin tuna is a Cape Cod tradition that has been handed down for generations.
News of Anthony’s catch spreads quickly throughout the Cape Cod tuna fishing fleet and it isn’t long until Donnie is scratching his head, wondering if making the long run to George’s Bank is worth the gas, time, risk and effort.
Captain Donnie is famous for catching a 3,000 pound great white shark in 1986 off Long Island with Frank Mundus. Mundus is regarded as the inspiration behind Jaws according to Discovery. Donnie admits that despite his fame early on, he just likes to go fishing and sell tuna.
100 plus miles north of Anthony is Paulie, who is still hammering away at Stellwagen Bank. Paulie finally gets a take from a fish that starts things off with a drag peeling run. Tricky part is that with 5 rods out, the fish has entangled itself with the other lines. In true Cape Cod tuna fisherman fashion Paulie keeps his cool, clears the tangle and allows mate Richie to go to work. 15 minutes later Paulie fires the harpoon deep underneath the boat and sticks the tuna with pin-point accuracy.
It was an impressive shot to say the least. The fish is no monster tapping out at 250 pounds. Still a sell-able bluefin but according to Paulie, “the one I caught last week could of ate that one.” According to the show he caught a 975 pound giant bluefin tuna the week before.
The first episode of the show ends with Paulie and Anthony unloading their catch. Paulie sells his catch to Bob Kliss from North Atlantic Traders. The fish is sent to the domestic market and fetches $18 a pound for Paulie.
Anthony’s fish is headed to Japan. Once the fish sells in Japan, middlemen take a cut and whatever is left over goes to Anthony. The tuna fetched $21 a pound which makes his fish a 10K tuna.
Next week it looks like the crews are heading to George’s Bank. The preview of next week's episode shows clips of large tuna hooked, landed and lost. Overall the first episode of Fighting Tuna does an accurate job of displaying real life Cape Cod tuna fishermen.