Ode to the Harpoon Fishermen

Words by Aaron Wood

Tyler Macallister

“I got him first on my throw,” Tyler Macallister says, “…and at that point, knew I was completely screwed.”

As a teenage mate, Tyler was waiting for his big chance. When it came, he strode out onto the boat’s pulpit, a twenty-five-foot, narrow walkway extending from the bow. The captain steered him in before he singled out the nearest bluefin, stationed himself with harpoon in hand, and let it sing.

Harpooning tuna is a venture of craft and grit, leveling the playing field between hunter and prey. It requires patience, expert boating skills, fishing prowess, and a healthy dose of hand-eye coordination.

Once harpooned, the fish rapidly emptied a basket with 600’ of line and a buoy. Today, when a fish is hit, a 1000 Watts of electricity travels through a wire-core line, instantaneously immobilizing the tuna. The result is a premium-grade product free of lactic acid buildup and zero bycatch. Once a booming industry, the craft is declining to more conventional and easier means.

But for Tyler, the thrill of the hunt keeps him coming after decades of experience—when favorable conditions usher him oceanward, a keen eye on the horizon, the slightest sight of a cresting fin igniting his primitive drive.

He takes up the harpoon and strides up the pulpit.

Harpoon Fishermen

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