IFD: It’s a great pleasure to have some time with the great Dave Marciano of hit tv show Wicked Tuna on the Discovery Channel.
Dave has become one of the most recognisable faces in fishing and having spent most of his life at sea has gained a massive insight into fishing for giant bluefin tuna.
What was the first thing you heard about Wicked Tuna and how did your involvement with the show come about?
Well the executive producer of the show had previously done some work on the movie “The Perfect Storm” so he knew of Glouster, it’s maritme history and it’s a scenic location.
So from that they became aware of us guys who go out to catch these tuna that can be worth a lot of money. So that was the origins of how it came about.
The company was Pilgrim productions which specialise in reality shows. Now there are hundreds of guys who go out and fish for these tuna so we were very fortunate to get interviewed to be part of the show.
They came here for ten days, interviewing crews that they might like to work with. I had no idea any of this was going on, and on the ninth day, they contacted me and asked me to come down and interview for the show.
They explained what they were thinking, and one thing that they said to me that while talking to other boats my name came up a few times and in the tv business that meant I might be worth talking to.
So my next question was is there a cheque involved and that was my only incentive originally, but never in a million years did I think it would lead to such interest and I’m glad to be part of it.
What has it been like working with family aboard the Hard Merchandise?
In one sense it’s easier because it’s always enjoyable to work with family but there is another side to that too.
It’s hard to be hard on your family, and sometimes you regret it a little. People have seen me loose my temper and throwing shit around! We’re not actors and some people think these shows are scripted, but if I was faking all that, people would see straight through it cause I’m not an actor!
I see some of those moments on screen and I feel really bad. We know we are being filmed, the cameras are running around the clock. Those are moments you rather the cameras weren’t there but that’s real life, there are times when everybody snaps.
When it comes to the tuna fishing, you have been very successful, is it all in the methods you fish what has worked best for you?
What’s not really shown on the show, is all the other guys fishing for tuna down here. There are guys using other methods like trolling for example who are very good at it.
The methods you see me use on the show is because that’s what I’m good at, to experiment with different methods proves expensive.
It’s an open access fishery, so you could come down here, buy boat, apply for a permit and start fishing for tuna. So guys that can afford to play around do so. some guys might be successful in other areas of their life and just have a boat for sport fishing and to them it’s just a hobby and they dedicate time and money to do it.
For me I fish the way that works for me in my unique little business situation. I’m a commercial fisherman and the only reason I fish is to pay my bills and love my job.
If they are abundant I can make some money cathching them. I always walk the fine line of how to fish for them effectively with spending the least ammount of money.
In a lifetime spent fishing for them, can you tell me about the biggest tuna you have ever had aboard?
Sure, the biggest fish we ever brought aboard the Hard Merchandise was about 1200lb and 129 inches. We never weighed it till it was brought in. Dressed out with the head and tail missing and the guts, it came at 853lb I think it was.
According to the measurements they estimated it was between 1175 to 1200lb. The best thing about it was my son was nine years old when he caught it. Back then he was in school and didn’t get to come out a lot, it was one of those rare occasions he was with me back then.
The neat part of the story was it was a very clever fish. We could see it on the maschine for about three or four hours but we couldn’t hook him but then we finally did hook him.
At the time I knew it was a big fish, I didn’t realise how big. We never even took a picture of it cause back then I was only thinking of the money. So we cleaned it and iced it and when all was said and done we got paid for that fish.
Looking back, It’s nice to say we caught the biggest fish of our lives together.
Ken Fraser’s world record is of 1497lb, do you think this record could ever be broken?
Yes I think it could. If you guys have paid close attention to the show, you hear guys talk about twenty years ago, all the tuna were big jumbo fish. Nowadays we get fish from 30lb right up to some of the 1000lb fish that have been on the show.
I believe that’s a great indicator for the health of the resource. You see the nay sayers out there trying to equate what we are doing to catching the last buffalo. However what we are seeing is a different picture of healthy tuna stocks and new information is being learned all the time.
Can you tell us about the most gruelling of fights?
It wasn’t actually the biggest one, even that big one we caught was caught on heavier leader and bigger hooks.
We now know from the scientists thay these fish see at the magnification of seven times to the human eye. So when they look at your bait presentation, it’s like us looking with binoculars.
So the constant battle for us is walking the fine line between wanting to hook a fish, sometimes you gotta go lighter with smaller hooks but if you go too small you won’t have a chance of landing the bigger fish.
Sometimes those bigger fish have been hooked before so that’s when they won’t fall for the same trick again, they learn something, they get harder to hook.
We have pulled on fish for seven or eight hours and never got a chance to see them because we hooked them on lighter gear. You have to baby those fish and play with them or they are gone.
Season 6 is about to come out in February are you guys finished filming now?
All the filming is done now, we wrapped up filming season 6 a few weeks ago now. I can say had a great season and we finished filming four weeks ahead of schedule becuse we caught enough fish to make the show. When your dealing with a production company time is money.
So then they take off and go do the editing process. The show is filmed as a snap shot of our overall season. The season only officially closed a few weeks ago cause we finally caught our quota for the year.
There is still a bunch of fish around. We could be still catching two or three a day if we wanted but there is no quota left so i don’t go out.
Some guys are still going out on private boats fishing catch and release and some guys are working with some scientists doing some tagging. It’s been a hectic season so I’m glad to get some time off.
Having fished for tuna for so long, can you tell us about population fluctuations over the years?
I think the future looks great. When I was a kid in my early teens and just getting into fishing we were at the lowest point.
Then through my career I’ve see a few low points but over here in the States, the big change came in 1972 when they implemented the Sustainable Fisheries act.
So that meant in all of our fisheries over here, by congressional law, we were mandated that we have to rebulid the stocks to historic levels of abundance.
That became very complicated because they weren’t saying we couldn’t fish but we needed a balancing act.
In the first decade the progress was slow, but over the last few decades we have made a lot of progress and also other countries have got so much better on the same more sustainable ways.
What you are seeing is they are a global stock and when these stocks do well you see increases on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ve heard the reports from Ireland of these fish showing up in some places where they were never seen before historically.
Has there been any other fringe benefits of the show?
Well before me, no one in my family had really fished before. The only person in the family who took me was my uncle Joseph, who would bring me to freshwater ponds for bass.
Joseph passed away very young at 27 years old and I was about eight or nine. So we named my son Joseph after him.
Now because of the show, I get some opportunities open up that I would have killed for when I was a kid. When you grow up you have a wife and kids and you cant just do what you want you gotta pay the bills and I always enjoyed my job.
Now since the show, I’ve been invited to fish different places at home and over seas. We fished a tuna tournament in Rome, Italy last year and in early December I’m going steelhead trout for my birthday which I always dreamt about doing.
What will the future hold Dave Marciano?
Traditionally commercial fishermen like me don’t retire just because of economics. You mostly find they work till they drop dead. Although the show has been successful I’m not a movie star, I’m not Brad Pitt and there won’t be no mansion!
The little dream my wife and I have is to maybe get a little house down in Florida. So I maybe I will be able to retire and get that little house. It’s a lot warmer down there and if I can’t afford a small boat I’m happy to be the old guy fishing on the pier!
Well it was a pleasure to talk to you Dave and we will be looking forward to seeing you in action in series 6.
No problem Paddy anytime…