Five PEI fisherman launch tuna charter boat business aimed at locals that all but guarantees a world famous catch
© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
North Lake tuna fisherman Gerard Holland has teamed up with his cousin Ernie MacPhee and three other Island fishermen to offer a tuna charter business that caters to Islanders for rates lower than traditional private charters. The business operates out of North Lake, Rustico and Tignish until mid-October.
Five fishermen from one end of P.E.I. to the other are trying to reel Islanders in for a fun time.
Gerard Holland, who fishes tuna out of North Lake, has launched Wicked Tuna Charters, a service which offers Islanders the experience of catching a Bluefin tuna for $100.
He’s teamed up with four other fishermen to make sure that Islanders from across the province get the chance. Charters also leave from Tignish and Rustico.
His partners are Joey Gauthier, Neil Perry, Kenny MacRae and Ernie MacPhee, each of them an experienced and licensed Bluefin tuna captain.
“The percentage of people on P.E.I. who have actually caught a tuna is probably pretty low,’’ Holland said. “The only way to do it is to know someone quite well and go with them.’’
Private charters are available for $650 for a half day and $1,250 for a full day.
And Holland all but guarantees those who get in on the excitement will catch a tuna. It should be noted that people don’t get to keep the tuna since it’s a catch-and-release activity.
“The tuna the last number of years are so thick you can get them basically day and night.’’
Perry backs him up.
“I’ve been fishing tune since 1978 and in the last six years there’s hardly a time that a person can go out, leave Tignish harbour after August without seeing or getting hooked up,’’ Perry said.
They also offer crab fishing demonstrations, lobster fishing demonstrations and a tour of the herring boats off North Lake, Rustico and Tignish. You can feed bluefin tuna,’’ Holland says.
Perry contends that while North Lake is known as the tuna capital of the world, Tignish is the world’s best kept secret. To be more specific, MacLeod’s Ledge is where the tuna are caught off Tignish and it’s said to be fertile ground.
“It’s a fisherman’s daydream to be out there. We’re hoping to get Islanders involved and then they can pass the word around. There’s people that come from all over the world to fish tuna and I would definitely say, from what I’ve seen in other places, we’re the premiere spot. We can almost guarantee it for two or three months a year,’’ said Perry.
“There is so much potential up west for the industry to grow,’’ Holland adds.
Those who sign up might even see some seals and whales.
“There’s nobody really doing that on the Island. They’re all catering to the off-Island market with private charters,’’ said Holland. “We’re doing both public and private but we’re trying to emphasize the public part.’’
Holland credits Gauthier for coming up with the idea to offer public charters.
“Only for Joey saying something to me I don’t know if I would have got into this. He said we need more charter fishing on the Island.’’
Perry got to know Holland when both were getting certified in a marine course at Holland College.
While it’s new ground for Holland, he does have previous business experience, having run Kings County EMS for 10 years before the province took it over.
Charters are offered until the middle of October.
“I see a demand out there that nobody is meeting . . . letting Islanders get on these boats and take them for a tuna. This is a real neat thing to do.’’
For more information on Wicked Tune Charters go to www.wickedtunacharters.ca.