His blue eyes may be the first thing people notice about him, but that's not the striking thing about Hebert; it's his reputation as a fisherman, to be exact Hebert, who lives in East Waterboro, is so skilled at catching tuna that he caught the eye of the producers of "Wicked Tuna," the number-one-rated reality series airing Sunday nights on National Geographic channel. Hebert walked on during the last minute of the March 24 episode and will begin making regular appearances with his brother, Paul Hebert, who has been a regular on the show. The Heberts aren't just any anglers. The family has fished for tuna for three generations out of Marshfield, Mass.
In its second season, the plot of "Wicked Tuna" revolves around six crews of bluefin tuna fishermen based in Gloucester, Mass. Each crew competes to see who can catch the most tuna with the highest value each season. One fish can be worth up to $20,000, raising the stakes, tempers, and intensity on the show as the competition heats up - or the boat's engine does. It's like a floating soap opera. Attention is something the Hebert brothers are used to. Paul, Bruce, and their brothers Donnie, Danny, Kenny, and Gary grew up near Gloucester in the 1960s. "Tuna fishing without the Hebert's didn't exist back then," said Hebert. "I've been tuna fishing all my life." Fishing is tough; there are a hundred different ways to get hurt. But it wasn't fishing that almost spelled the end to Herbert's career. Ironically, he was forced to give up commercial fishing after a fall while working in heating and cooling, resulting in a severe back injury. "I didn't think I'd ever been able to do tuna fishing again," Hebert said.
After the injury, Hebert decided to switch gears, get his captain's license and start a charter fishing business. "My alternative in my mind is staying on the ocean," he said of the decision to buy and operate Libreti Rose II. Five years later, Hebert's business is doing well on the second boat named after his daughters Brei, Rose, and Tiara. He became affiliated with the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport at the resort's invitation and attracted repeat customers. "I work hard to make sure they catch fish," said Herbert of the key to his success. His work ethic and reputation have paid off in another way. Enter Paul, who called his big brother last summer to help him out on the show. Hebert can't reveal too much, even if he wanted to, as cast members are told little about the plot lines in upcoming episodes. Hebert can say he will be in the remaining five episodes of season 2. Season 3 is looking good for him as well. "It's quite an experience to see how the whole thing works," said Hebert about the making of the series, adding "it's 99 percent ratings and advertising."
If the ratings go up, so do the number of sponsors, he said. Each character also markets his line of merchandise. Waterboro selectman Gordon Littlefield is both a fan of the show and a friend of Hebert's. "It takes on a little more flavor when there's someone you know," said Littlefield. "There's almost like a vicarious connection."
On the next episode, airing Easter Sunday, the brothers get three bites, and Hebert fights all three of them until "color" - what the crew members shout when they see the tuna break the water after it is hooked. "I was pretty excited to figure out if I was able to do it again - actually on the rod and fighting the fish," said Hebert. The episode's plot is described on the show's website: "After an intense week, where Dave fired Paul as the first mate on FV-tuna.com, the two friends - turned - foes are now ferociously competing against each other to see who can catch more fish. Navigating the open seas in hopes of catching the most fish, Paul aims to prove that he is fine on his own without Dave, so he asks his brother Bruce, a bluefin fishing legend, to join him on board and help him; outfish his old employer."
The second oldest in a family of six boys, Hebert remembers fishing as something his whole family did - even his mother, of whom he has a picture with a 1,100-pound tuna. Back then, "if we were paid $1 (a pound), we thought we were going to be millionaires," Hebert recalled with a laugh, "tightened their bond over their mutual obsession with tuna fishing. Paul, out of the six and I are While he is close to all his brothers, he and Paul are the ones who became more addicted to the tuna fishery," said Hebert. "We always teamed up."
"Now the cards have turned - I fish for him." Cast members don't know how they will be portrayed on the show, but Hebert said the actor's personalities are true to life. With one or two exceptions, most of them are the Hebert brothers, also seasoned fishermen. The art of fishing for tuna is also authentically portrayed, said Hebert, who added, "When we are fishing, we're fishing." The show is already spilling over into other parts of the Heberts' lives. Bruce and his wife, Lisa, drove down to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. Saturday for a promotional charity even sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. Held to promote Wicked Tuna and Bass Pro Shops, part of the proceeds will help raise money to fight cystic fibrosis, a cause that's close to the Hebert family.
"I think it's fascinating," said Lisa Hebert about her husband's involvement in the show. "Like wow, how often does this happen to anybody?"
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event," Hebert agreed. "Whatever comes of it, we'll take the ride."
Mainers take to the Water in "Wicked Tuna "
"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.”
-Portland Press Herald
The thrill of the fight
“Now that’s a wicked big tuna, caught by the stars of Wicked Tuna, a reality show about fishing for bluefin tuna that airs Sundays on the National Geographic Channel. The tuna weighed more than 700 pounds.”