When it comes to nature, there may be no setting more relaxing than the ocean. It is there that Mattapoiset’s Tyler Macallister is most comfortable. “It is peaceful, in general,” he told X-Wear recently. “When you’re tuna fishing you see a lot of whales and different kinds of life. The other day there was a very friendly harbor seal that decided it wanted to hang around the boat and show off. It literally spent two hours hanging around us.”
Since he “could barely walk,” Macallister said he has had a connection to the water thanks to his grandfather who lived on a pond off Wequaquet Lake in Barnstable. It is there that Macallister would fish for perch and bass. “There isn’t much I don’t like about fishing,” he said. “There’s obviously the thrill of catching my own fish, tying my own flies and building my own rods.”
He has maintained a passion for fishing ever since, though these days he is reeling in much bigger fish. Macallister is an occasional charter boat fishing captain and a full-time commercial fisherman, based out of Sandwich. You can often find him and his crew aboard the F/V Cynthia C, a 35’ Duffy that is used as a harpoon boat to catch bluefin tuna. He also operates the F/V Cynthia C2, a 38’ boat that snags tuna using rod and reel.
This season, the biggest tuna he caught was 115 inches and just under 900 pounds. On a good day, he may bring back as many as five bluefins.
He goes, he said, “where the fish go” which means as close as three miles off the East end of the Cape Cod Canal to as far away as 30 miles out into Georges Bank. “Tuna is a very mobile fishery,” he said. “They’re always moving.”
Macallister’s year typically begins in May, when he will start fishing for black sea bass with his daughter Alexandra and run charters until the second week of June. That’s when his focus shifts to tuna; the season is close to winding down.
Need for Sunglasses
Harpooning, he said, requires the use of a spotter pilot who is responsible for locating the fish that Macallister is chasing. “The number one item you need is sunglasses,” Macallister said. “I started harpooning in 1985 so this is my 31st season fishing for giant bluefin and I’ve used different lenses, different shades.”
He and his crew rely on sunglasses both for comfort – “we get a lot of eye strain over the course of the day,” he said – and for clarity. “You’re trying to see into the water and differentiate colors,” Macallister explained. “Sunglasses are the most important thing, especially when you’re working with an airplane spotter pilot. My pilot Dan will tell you the same thing when he’s in the air.”
You can find X-Wear’s line of fishing and boating sunglasses here. They include such top, outdoor brands as Costa, Maui Jim and Smith, all of which are durable, rugged and employ the best in polarized technology that give fishermen like Macallister a competitive advantage when searching for fish in the open sea.
Benefits of GoPros
With training as a marine biologist – he holds a degree in marine biology and biology from UMass Dartmouth – Macallister is not only trying to catch bluefin tuna, but interested in their health as well. Along the Northeast, he is finding the species has made a rebound after nearly being listed as endangered. “I can tell you that tuna has not only recovered, but is flourishing,” he said. “We have seen more fish, starting about 2009.”
His boats are equipped with a high-end video camera as well as multiple GoPros. He uses them to chronicle his trips that are mix of both work and pleasure. Not only have his cameras captured his bluefin exploits, they have also recorded the many other animals he has encountered over the years, including great white sharks. In 2014 he taped a great white for 14 minutes as it cruised around his boat. The animal was later named by shark researchers after Macallister’s daughter.
“You never know, every day, you just don’t know what kind of experience you’re going to have out there,” he said, summing up the thrill of being on the water.