Saco-based fishermen Zack Plante, left, and Charlie Boivin will be featured on the new season of the TV show “Wicked Tuna” starting Sunday. Photo courtesy of PFTV/Eric Goodwin

Two Saco-based fishermen are looking to score a wicked big catch, before a nationwide audience.

Zack Plante and Charlie Boivin will be featured on the ninth season of National Geographic’s reality TV show “Wicked Tuna,” beginning Sunday. Plante and Boivin were filmed last summer competing against seven other boats fishing out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, where the show is based. They’ll be seen fishing out of their 35-foot boat, Wasabi.

The point of the show is to see which crew makes the most money from their season’s catch, while highlighting the competitiveness and drama on the high seas along the way. Boivin and Plante are among three new crews on the show this season, competing against several other boats that have been on the show before. As the only boat from Maine, Boivin and Plante – the latter of whom a news release described as “ready to stir the pot” – went into the show with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders.

“These veterans who’ve been on the show for a while think they’re much better fishermen than everyone else,” said Boivin, 38, who lives in Lebanon. “Fishing for bluefin tuna is not an easy thing, but I know we’re as good as anyone else.”

Saco-based fisherman Charlie Boivin, left and Zack Plante in orange pants, in a scene from the upcoming season of “Wicked Tuna,” which begins Sunday. Photo courtesy of PFTV/Eric Goodwin

The season’s premiere episode will be Sunday at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic cable channel. The season runs for 15 episodes, with new episodes each Sunday at the same time. There is no prize at the end of the show, just bragging rights for the crew with the biggest haul. Though boats that do well might be invited back, and the fame of being on the show presents money-making opportunities.

“I know a lot of these other guys (on the show) are in the chartering business. Once you’re known for being on ‘Wicked Tuna,’ everyone wants to be on your boat,” said Boivin.

Neither Plante nor Boivin are allowed to say what happens on their boat, or on this season of “Wicked Tuna” beforehand. While the show mostly features boats based in Gloucester, other Maine boats have been part of “Wicked Tuna” before. The Portland-based boat Erin & Sarah competed in 2016, captained by Pete Speeches of Scarborough.

Plante and Boivin are co-captains and the only crew on their 35-foot, 39-year-old boat, which is owned by Boivin. Like all the crews on “Wicked Tuna,” they fish for the massive bluefin with rod and reel. Early in the season, they can start catching them three miles out, but later might venture out some 40 miles, Plante said. The fish range in weight from 200 to 700 pounds, and it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to seven or eight hours to land one, the two fishermen said. A big fish can be worth thousands of dollars at the dock.

Boivin, who also works for a company that installs power line poles, grew up fishing in lakes and streams in southern Maine. But he got “bored” with that hobby and looking for more challenges, he started helping a cousin on his lobster boat out of Biddeford. He heard about tuna fishing from other fishermen, tried it and was instantly hooked. He bought his boat – a fixer-upper – and began fishing for tuna commercially about eight years ago.

Plante, 28, grew up in Springvale and lives in Shapleigh. Like Boivin, he grew up fishing in lakes and streams but never really did much ocean fishing. He was working for his father’s excavation company in 2013 when he was in a bad accident on his motorcycle – he said a car hit him after running a stop sign – that left him hospitalized for a couple months. He suffered injuries to his spinal cord, legs, knee, feet and jaw and took about three months to start walking again.

A couple years after the accident, he was helping a friend run charter fishing trips off the Maine coast. Through other fishermen, he met Boivin, who introduced him to bluefin tuna fishing. He too was instantly enamored of it. When not fishing for bluefin tuna, Plante fishes on a boat out of Boston.

So when someone sent Plante an email saying “Wicked Tuna” was casting new boats, he thought it was worth a shot to apply. As bluefin tuna fishermen, he and Boivin always welcome a challenge.

“This is something we care about,” Plante said.


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