GLOUCESTER — As the fifth season of the hit National Geographic Channel series “Wicked Tuna” comes to a climax Monday, May 16, with the finale, NatGeo announced that the show will continue with a sixth season.
The Gloucester-based reality television series, which has fans all over the world, will begin filming this summer for another season of tension on the high seas as the captains compete to bring in the most lucrative hauls of the gigantic bluefin tuna.
This has been the most competitive season yet with four of the five boats in close contention to make the win with a “monstah” catch, and the fish are biting in the final episode as they fish within sight of each other.
This season the captains have encountered everything from record-breaking catches to a series’ first with a quadruple hook-up, when four of the fishing vessels hooked a massive bluefin at the same time.
After a poor showing his first two seasons in the show, Capt. T.J. Ott of the Hot Tuna has the lead.
Popular Gloucester captains Paul Hebert of the Wicked Pissah and Dave Carraro of the FV-Tuna.com, have been strong contenders. Despite some rocky moments, Hebert went from being this season’s underdog to a true contender. After years of serving as crew, Hebert finally owns his own boat. Last season’s champion, Hard Merchandise Capt. Dave Marciano of Beverly, is close behind.
Rounding out the vessels is Capt. Tyler McLaughlin aboard the Pinwheel, who has faced many setbacks, from broken gear to a near-mutiny, and he remains behind the rest of the fleet.
The NatGeo series has followed the group of fishermen from Gloucester, the nation’s oldest seaport, as they hunt for bluefin tuna. One mammoth fish can bring in as much as $20,000. But the fishermen also face a limited fishing season, expenses and unexpected setbacks.
In a phone interview from Key West, Florida, this week, Ott, who is in his third season, said he has become more comfortable with the filming.
“The first year I was much more a deer in the headlights,” he said. “When you get used to it and drop your inhibitions, I think that’s when they get the best content and people get to know you a bit better.”
Although Ott said he is not “indigenous” to Gloucester, this is the place he loves. He seems to dwell on islands whether it was Broad Channel in Queens where he grew up, or Gloucester on the island of Cape Ann, or Key West. He has spent every summer here since 1989.
“I tell everyone how amazing Gloucester is,” he said. “Since I was a little kid of about 10 or 11, I was a dock rat here, where we kept the old Hot Tuna at the Cape Ann Marina. I would go fishing with whoever would take me. I can rattle probably over 30 boats that would take me.”
Ott, now 36, still fishes every day, whether from Florida’s most southern key or back in New England or somewhere in between.
“Gloucester is hands down one of my favorite places. I have a major connection to the ocean and there is something special about Gloucester Harbor. Every time I return, when I come through the jetty and past Ten Pound Island, it has this really special feeling that other places can’t replicate,” he said.
Like the other captains who have been on board from the start, Ott is spotted by fans wherever he goes.
“I can’t walk down the streets of Key West without getting stopped about 25 times a day. It’s way more than I ever imagined in a million years. Or I sit in my hammock at night and people walk by, and they come back and look at me, and say something like ‘big tuna’ or ‘hey are you that guy from the tuna show?’ Key West is a huge fishing destination and I’m not exactly inconspicuous,” said a corpulent Ott who sports a bushy beard and untamed hair.
He too has a global fan base. A friend of his who travels to Bali to purchase goods for a gift shop asked him to sign some T-shirts for children in Bali who did not believe she knew Ott even when she showed them photographs.
“If that doesn’t speak to the popularity of ‘Wicked Tuna’ that children in Bali are enamored with it. Or I could be in an airport in Philadelphia and people will stop me,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing that a show about catching tuna fish from a little place like Gloucester has so many people drawn into it around the world. It’s really pretty special and we are fortunate to be a part of it.”
After the final episode of Season 5, there will be a post-finale show, “Reel Talk Live,” hosted by Mike Catherwood (”Loveline”) that will air at 10 p.m., when the cast will answer questions from a live audience and reveal behind-the-scenes drama.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at email@example.com.
If you watch
What: “The Final Fishdown,” the season finale of the hit National Geographic Channel series “Wicked Tuna.”
When: Monday, May 16, at 9 p.m.
Synopsis: With one week left, who will earn the title of Gloucester’s top-earning fisherman? Four boats are one catch away from the lead.
Live with the crews: After the finale, at 10 p.m., Mike Catherwood hosts the Reel Talk Live Post-Finale Show when the cast answers fan questions and reveals behind-the-scenes details. For more information, visitwww.natgeotv.com/wickedtuna and follow on Facebook, Twitter (@NGC_PR and @wickedtuna) and Instagram (@natgeochannel). Fans can participate in Reel Talk Live by submitting questions for the captains and mates on Facebook (Facebook.com/WickedTunaTV) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/WickedTuna) using the hashtag #ReelTalkLive.