By Gail McCarthy
---- — The captains of the “Wicked Tuna” hit reality television series have started the tuna season with tales to tell — and not all are about fish.
Capt. Dave Marciano of Beverly recently welcomed aboard Allison Wishnov, an ecstatic 8-year-old from Pennsylvania, who wanted to break her piggy bank and send him all the money inside when she learned that his boat, Hard Merchandise, sank last December.
The fishing vessel had sunk while docked at the Gloucester Marine Railways early one morning. Crews found a break in a thru-hull fitting that had caused the 36-foot fiberglass boat to take on water and sink. It took them about seven hours to pull the boat out. “Wicked Tuna” film crews were on hand to record the recovery.
Marciano was insured, and his boat is back on the water.
Allison’s mother, Kim Wishnov, brought the family for a visit on June 30 so that Allison could meet her favorite “Wicked Tuna” captain.
“She was thrilled and got to sit in the captain’s chair and interview him,” she said. “Allison is already planning another trip there so she can ask him more questions.”
Marciano said he was pleased to make the girl’s visit memorable.
“She was adorable and very smart — or smaahhht — and she asked really good solid questions about what happened to the boat and about what she sees on the show in general. I believe she wrote a paper in her last week of school about ‘Wicked Tuna,’” he said. “We are now full-tilt charter fishing. I have been very fortunate that every charter has been another group of amazing people from around the country.”
Earlier in June, Capt. Dave Carraro took Cooper Sowers, a teen from Texas, tuna fishing on his boat, FV-Tuna.com, for his 14th birthday. Cooper landed three bluefin on that nearly 15-hour charter trip.
“It was the most exciting fishing trip of our lives,” said Michelle Sowers, Cooper’s mother. “The quiet times quickly dissolved into the wheelhouse and the deck was blowing up with action. Cooper tried to be in the middle of it all without getting in the way. Sandro [Maniaci] and the deckhand Jordan realized that he was a little skilled and gave him jobs he could handle before handing him the rod. I can’t believe the excitement and fortune we had — expecting to be lucky to catch one, then two, then three ... really.”
FV-Tuna.com also took Red Sox players Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli out on a tuna charter on June 24.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t catch anything. I was dying to get them one, but it wasn’t in the cards,” Maniaci said of the trip. “They caught a few cod, but that was about it. They fish, and they were interested in the show. I believe they may come out later in the season.”
A few days later, Maniaci, Carraro and fellow tuna fisherman Paul Hebert were special guests at a Red Sox game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Carraro was among those who threw the first pitch at the game.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I came up to the plate after a guy bounced the ball three times and he got booed, so I was under some pressure. I was thinking I better throw a better ball.”
Luckily, he did — and the crowd cheered. Maniaci said he threw a strike.
Hebert was on the water on June 24, too, aboard the fishing vessel Karen Lynn with a camera crew from NESN for a segment that will be aired in the future.
In the next season, there will be a new boat on the water when Hebert shows up as captain of his own boat, the 42-foot “Wicked Pissah.”
“This way, I get to start off the beginning of the season with everybody else. It’s a fresh start so everyone is starting the same,” Hebert said.
Tuna season opened last Monday, and Pilgrim Studios crews will begin filming in the coming days for the National Geographic Channel show’s third season.