Long hours. Treacherous seas. Frigid weather conditions. Fishing is a hard-knock life, but for "Wicked Tuna" star Dave Marciano, "it's a passion." He’'s been doing it since he was a kid and will continue doing it until he dies.
Aside from his love of fishing, Marciano tells Yahoo! TV that it's his sole source of income. If he doesn't catch those tuna, he can't support his family.
We chatted with the captain of the FV Hard Merchandise about the new season of the National Geographic hit (airing Sundays at 9 PM). Will he come out on top of the fishing ranks this year? Check out what he had to say about that and more.
In the premiere, we met a new captain, Tyler McLaughlin, who taunts you and the others when he scores a big tuna. Is he the villain of the season?
You can call him a villain. The bottom line is he's a young kid, he's hungry, he wants to be the best. I think I can say he's got some talent to go along with it. In one aspect, he kind of reminds me of me when I was 20 years old, and I actually had hair down to my shoulders when I was that age. But I did wear my hat straight.
Tyler comes from a more privileged background, so even though he's only 24, he's already got his own boat. Does that make the other captains think less of him?
I don't know where he got his boat or whatever, and that's not my business. My business is what's he going to be like on the fishing grounds? And the bottom line is, on the fishing grounds, I'm fishing for a paycheck. … It does get competitive. But he's got every right to be there, like anybody else. He is a little bit abrasive; I guess I’ll leave it at that.
But there needs to be some cockiness to do what you do, right?
There definitely does. If you want to do well and you want to catch fish, you kind of take what's yours. Nobody’s gonna hand you nothing out there, that's for sure. I'm not gonna run over and give Tyler any fish. If he wants some, he's gonna have to come get 'em.
Captain Dave Carraro of the FV-Tuna.com won the fishing battle last season. How will you beat him this time?
We're going to do it, hopefully, by just hard work because that's the only thing I know. I don't have nothing fancy, I just kind of get by with what I got.
The only thing I can do is try and work hard, and work smart, and hope I have a little bit go my way. No matter how good you are out there, there is a certain amount of luck you need.
Aside from luck, have you developed strategies to find the fish?
I have 20 years experience, which guides me to where I believe I'm going to find fish. That’s really basic stuff, it's not really an industry secret.
All of us are somewhat marine biologists in a fashion, because we have to be in tune with the environment out there. That's how we're going to home in on these fish. And that's where I believe I have an edge, because I fish year-round. … Maybe not always for tuna, but I'm out there, I'm interacting with that environment. In shore person's terms, I'm out there doing my homework long before tuna season starts.
Do you feel that "Wicked Tuna” has captured your industry accurately?
It was definitely a learning experience for me. There's literally hundreds of boats that participate in the bluefin tuna fishery. And it is pretty cutthroat, because these fish are worth a lot of money. I have a small, very tight circle of friends that I work very closely with, and most of them are guys like me -- full-time, strictly working commercial fisherman. Prior to "Wicked Tuna," I knew all these guys existed, but I didn't talk to them much or work with them much at all.
It's definitely been an interesting process, learning to get along with these guys. Mostly it's portrayed me, fairly accurately, that I like to do my own thing and stay out of the messes. To be honest with you, I never really knew how things worked on other people's boats. I only know how I conduct myself and how I do business. I stay clear. It was quite interesting to see how some of these guys behave when they get in tight quarters.
For all the drama that we viewers get to see, there must be down time, right?
There's a lot of days where we don't see much action. That’s where they really create the entertainment -- if you saw how it really was, the fishery itself would be as exciting as watching grass grow. … With the editing, you’re seeing the consolidating of the epic highs and the epic lows.
It takes a lot of time, that's the major investment that we put in. That's where the playing field is equal. You have to spend time out there in the fishing grounds to put these fish on the boat. At the same time, that's where I feel I have a disadvantage with the other skippers. Tyler is young, he's a go-getter, he's hungry, he's literally got no reason to come home at all. The phrase we use in the business is "turn and burn"--he literally puts more fuel, ice on the boat, literally doesn't step off the boat.
It's something I have to be cognizant about. Life ain't all about the money. It's nice that I can be home for birthday parties once in awhile, or my son’s football games. But I do have to take the day off from fishing, so in a competitive sense, that's a disadvantage.
So what keeps you going, what keeps you stepping back on the boat?
For me, fishing is a passion. I've always had a passion, I just took to the water as a kid.
Some of the stuff that's really cool to share on the show is stuff I take for granted. I've probably seen 10,000 pretty epic sunrises and sunsets. That's part of my working day.
Your boat, the Hard Merchandise, actually sank in December. What happened? Will we see it on "Wicked Tuna"?
No, they were basically done filming "Wicked Tuna." Whether they touch on it or not, I'm still not sure. We have pictures and a bit of video, mostly for insurance purposes.
The boat basically sank tied to the dock. … Now we're working to rebuild her. Fortunately, I did have insurance. It's a nightmare from my perspective -- I gotta repower the boat, put a new engine in it, rip out all the wiring, all the electronics, all the stuff is junk -- but the boat itself is fine.
I've still got another two months worth of work to get her up and running again. In the middle of it, I still have to go to work to make a paycheck, whether it's working on decks of other boats or whatever I can get.
But in the big picture, it sank two days after the school shooting. And that same weekend, another boat went down with all hands -- the Foxy Lady II -- and they just found the boat two days ago. They never found the crew. Although I have my own little nightmare, in the big picture, my problems are minimal.
Yeah, I've got a lot of work ahead of me, but I'll get through it. And we'll be fishing for next season, you can count on that.