Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise: Fishermen fish to win.
Bruce Hebert, first mate of the fishing boat Lisa & Jake on the “Wicked Tuna” reality TV show, is not happy about lagging on the leaderboard.
“We’re in a competitive field here,” Hebert, who lives in North Waterboro, said by phone Friday. “Every fisherman wants to end his season with the peace of mind that we caught more than they did.”
The standings may change at 9 p.m. Sunday, when the National Geographic Channel’s TV program returns to the air.
“Wicked Tuna” features teams of fishermen competing to catch the prized bluefin tuna on rod and reel. Seven boats compete on the show — six out of Gloucester, Mass., and one out of Rye, N.H.
The current standings show that Hebert and the crew of the Lisa & Jake are in sixth place. Bruce Hebert’s younger brother, Paul, captains the boat. “We know what we’re doing. We work well together,” the elder Hebert said. “This isn’t over.”
Garon Mailman, 30, of Saco knows that’s the truth. Mailman is a deckhand on the first-place boat on the show, the awkwardly named FV-Tuna.com. As a Mainer, he reveres Bruce Hebert and respects the older fisherman’s experience, which is legendary across New England.
“In tuna fishing, nobody gives you anything,” Mailman said, when interviewed by phone Friday. “You have to work for every piece of knowledge you get. I have been fishing for tuna four years, and it takes you four years to know anything. Being around veterans is just awesome. You learn from the guys who know so much.”
The 15-episode series is nearing the end of its second season, which was shot last summer and fall. Tonight’s episode is the 12th of the season.
Both Mainers are new to the show. Mailman didn’t appear until an episode that aired on April 7; Hebert didn’t appear until March 31.
The show features some of the best fishermen in New England. The tuna is a prized fish that’s sought by commercial and sport fishermen. One fish can bring as much as $20,000.
Filming for the third season of “Wicked Tuna” will begin when tuna fishing resumes in June, and both Maine men expect they will be back.
Both said that filming the current episodes was a lot of fun. “It’s just like a dream come true. It’s awesome being on TV,” said Mailman.
Hebert said he barely noticed the TV crew once the fishing heated up, although he admitted that he wasn’t thrilled initially with the idea of doing his job with the world watching.
“It turns out, it doesn’t bother me at all. They don’t get in your way. If they do, you tell them to move,” he said. “We’re doing our job without interruption. Two minutes into a tuna fish, you forget the cameras are even there. What you see is what you get.”
When he’s not fishing with his brother, Hebert runs a charter business out of Kennebunkport. Born in Massachusetts, he has lived in Maine for 20 years.
Mailman warned his friends that Sunday’s episode might catch him in an unflattering moment. For the episode, the crew motored out to Georges Bank. It was a new experience for the novice fisherman.
“We were out in the middle of nowhere. The currents were strong, and we got caught in big waves, to say the least,” he said with a laugh, hinting at what viewers can expect to see. “It should be entertaining. Let’s just say I’m not used to being on big seas like that.”
All of which makes Hebert smirk. He’s been fishing for all of his life. His father and grandfather fished before him, so he believes his love of fishing is part of his DNA.
“I was born into it. It’s in my blood,” he said. “I love the ocean. I’ve been there all my life, and I’m lost when I am not on it.”
Mailman loves the ocean, too — especially when it includes the thrill of hooking a tuna.
“It’s an amazing adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s like hooking up to a tractor-trailer truck and going down the highway.
“It’s a battle. It’s really a battle,” he said. “Those fish are so powerful. It’s crazy.”
Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: