I grew up in Yarmouthport, in the historic district on 6A. Right when I first got my driver’s license, I came down to Chatham and started commercial fishing when I was 16, around 1986 or ’87. There was a big mussel boat and they were just looking for deckhands. I fell in love with it—I fell in love with Chatham and the water.
Once I set foot on a boat and went out to Monomoy and worked on the water, I thought, This is it. This is what I’m going to do.
I just jumped on different boats down here, guys who I was friends with and so forth. In 1991, I joined the military. When I came back in ’97, I rented a house and started clamming, and I fell right back in love with this town. I did that for two years on my own, then I started jumping on the offshore boats.
When I was working in the small fisheries around here, I was always watching for the next rung on the fishing ladder. Seeing the big offshore boats go over Chatham Bar, I wanted to be on them. But there were a couple of times, when I was on them, that I wish I wasn’t (laughs).
Starting in about ’99 or so, I was fishing for cod, haddock, pollock—all the groundfish. Then I got introduced to tuna fishing . . . I learned from one of the best tuna fishermen out there, Bob St. Pierre. Then I started taking my friend Matt Linnell’s boats, the Sea Dancer and the Lori B., out tuna fishing.
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You’re wiped out, you haven’t slept in 32 hours, you could be sitting there drooling and you think you don’t have anything left. But when a tuna hits that line, you go from zero to 100 in about a tenth of a second. It’s the biggest adrenaline jolt you’ve ever felt in your life.
It’s a constant battle and it could last for four hours. But if you give that fish one inch of slack, he’s won and he’ll snap the line or spit the hook. But if you just stay on it, whether you’re drooling or dehydrated and almost passing out, if you keep going until the end, then you’ve won.