OCEAN CITY — While most of the Ocean City fishing fleet is settling in for the siege with the arrival of frigid temperatures and rough seas, at least one popular resort-based charter fishing boat is quietly preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Captain Dale Lisi of the “Foolish Pleasures” based at the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City has been chosen as one of a handful to participate in and appear on the latest season of “Wicked Tuna.” The National Geographic Channel’s wildly popular show follows groups of salty fishermen as they make a living battling monster bluefin tuna the old school way with a rod and reel. Lisi and his crew, including mates Will Hathaway and Ed Gross, certainly fit the bill.
For the first few seasons, “Wicked Tuna” followed bluefin tuna captains and crews out of historic Gloucester, Mass. where big bluefin tuna fishing has been around as long as the centuries-old town itself. The next season, which will feature the Lisi and the “Foolish Pleasures” crew, among others, will pit teams of anglers from the north against teams from the south, fishing out of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The “Foolish Pleasures” will represent the south team.
The “Foolish Pleasures” and its surly but good-natured Lisi and crew are well known and well-liked in Ocean City’s recreational and commercial fishing community and have earned their stripes locally as well as up and down the east coast over the years. The “Foolish Pleasures” makes regular appearances on the leaderboards of most of the resort area’s summer sportfishing tournaments and has taken its share of money from the White Marlin Open and the Ocean City Tuna Tournament, for example. However, when they head to the Outer Banks later this month to begin preparing for “Wicked Tuna” and the Atlantic bluefin season, it will be all business.
“We’re going to win it or we’re going to die trying,” he said this week.
Lisi said he learned of the latest “Wicked Tuna” auditions from a friend through a text message this fall and decided to give it a shot for the south team out of the Outer Banks. With no shortage of talented, veteran captains and crews, it seemed like a longshot, but Lisi and the “Foolish Pleasures” crew got the good news right around Christmas.
“I think 20-some boats and captains interviewed for the Outer Banks segment,” he said. “We drove the boat down to Virginia Beach and interviewed extensively and about six weeks later, we got the call that we had been chosen.”
The “Foolish Pleasures” is no stranger to big game fishing and typically spends the winter and early spring in the Outer Banks in search of the elusive, but highly lucrative bluefin tuna. This year, however, Lisi and the crew’s efforts will be recorded and aired when the latest “Wicked Tuna” season opens this summer, likely in mid-July. Lisi said he doesn’t expect the cameras and extra attention to distract his veteran crew.
“We’ll have one film guy on our boat,” he said. “They outfit your boat with a bunch of cameras and try to capture every possible angle.”
The Atlantic bluefin tuna season runs through much of the month of March, and Lisi said the “Foolish Pleasures” will maximize every available day in search of giant bluefins, and more importantly, fame and fortune.
“We’re going to be fishing a lot more than we normally would,” he said. “We really want to win. We’ll be at the ready on the first official day and we’ll fish every day we can in March if the weather allows it. We’re hoping to get 12 days in at least.”
While the “Foolish Pleasures” will be representing the south, and there will be some level of camaraderie among the teams, Lisi expects it to be highly competitive with so much on the line, so to speak.
“This season is going to be north versus south and we’ll be fishing for the south team,” he said. “It is a team competition, but it’s going to be more like every man for himself.”
The highly successful “Foolish Pleasures” routinely keeps its charter booking calendar relatively full during the summer season out of the Ocean City Fishing Center, but Lisi expects the “Wicked Tuna” appearance to really put the popular vessel on the map.
“This year, we have enough trips already booked to roll through the summer pretty good,” he said. “I’m hoping the ‘Wicked Tuna’ appearance will start paying dividends in the summer of 2017. We really believe the exposure would jumpstart our summer charter business and we’re honestly looking to exploit it in any way we can.”