Wicked Tuna: North vs. South is a spin off show from which was commissioned due to the popularity of the original series of Wicked Tuna. The set up for the show is as follows: the start of Autumn brigs an end to the tuna fishing season in the northern waters of the Grand Banks where the first few seasons of Wicked Tuna takes place. Many of the fishermen there choose to head 550 miles south to the Outer Banks off the Coast of North Carolina, where the tuna season is only beginning to continue their fishing. However, local fishermen are also aiming to catch tuna in these waters, leading to the North vs. South aspect of the show’s title. Boats which have travelled south to take part in this series include Hard Merchandise, Pinwheel and Hot Tuna from previous Wicked Tuna series, and they are joined by local boats Wahoo, Fishin’ Frenzy and Doghouse.
The format for Wicked Tuna: North vs. South is much the same as the original Wicked Tuna show, although there are some differences. As a conservation measure there is an overall quota of 23 metric tons of tuna – approximately 200 individual fish. Once this is caught the fishery closes, meaning that the season can last only a matter of weeks if all of the tuna are caught quickly. The fishermen are therefore under pressure to catch as many tuna as they can and take as much of this quota for themselves as every tuna they catch is one less that another boat can catch. The 73 inch minimum size limit which was in place in the original series of Wicked Tuna is also enforced. Despite these conservation measures there is no getting away from the fact that this is a show which is about an endangered species being caught.
Techniques to catch tuna in southern Outer Banks waters are also different. Instead of live baiting small fish for the tuna many of the boats use a greenstick, which is effectively an extremely tall pole mounted on the boat. This is used to tow artificial squid across the surface of the water behind the boat. Tuna attack these squid and become hooked and reeled onto the boat. In some episodes we see northern fishermen struggling to adapt to the new methods and techniques. The scenes of fish being caught are just as tense as they are in pervious series of Wicked Tuna, and the process of the flesh of the tuna being graded back at shore to see how much the crew will make from each individual tuna is identical to previous episodes.
While Wicked Tuna: North vs. South is not massively different from other Wicked Tuna series it is interesting to see new techniques and methods used to catch the tuna and the introduction of new boats and crews is welcome. The tension between the Northern ‘Yankee’ crews and the local Southern ones is played on by the producers and there is certainly some tension – in one episode a crew member from a southern boat uses a pump-action shotgun to destroy some of the fishing equipment of Pinwheel’s boat because they have gotten in the way of their fishing. Despite this the overall format of the show is much the same and viewers who have enjoyed previous series of Wicked Tuna are sure to enjoy North vs. South as well.