I’ve traveled all over the world to fish, but I call the Northeast home. And what I’ve learned in all those years on the road is that I don’t think I could ever stop calling the Northeast home. Yeah, it’s crowded and noisy, the taxes are insane and the highways are clogged, but it’s tough to beat the variety of species available within a few hours in any direction. Showcasing this variety was one of the big reasons I was so pumped for Das Boat to come to my neck of the woods.
Aside from a plethora of species, the Northeast is also rich in boat building history. We insisted that this season’s project boat had to connect to that history and the deeply-rooted regional fishing culture. We settled on a 1973 center console Mako, which we found serving as a lawn ornament in Delaware. These old Makos have beautiful lines and good bones. They were the “everyman’s boat” that carried generations of anglers through the slop of striper season and to the inshore giant tuna grounds from Massachusetts to Virginia. Thing is, a boat this old comes with massive headaches; the deck was rotten, the stringers were soft, the engine was toast, and it didn’t even have a functional compass let alone a GPS.
To say this Mako was the biggest undertaking in Das Boat history would be an understatement, and on a tight budget with a short deadline, not getting her into shape in time to catch the best bites in the Northeast was a very real possibility. We sweated. We struggled. We begged friends for help and worked late into the night, but dammit we got her seaworthy.
As a proud representative of New Jersey, I’m honored to be taking over as host this season from my boss, Steven Rinella. I’m also proud that after all our hard work, I got to splash the boat first and use it to put my friend Ryan Callaghan on my beloved striped bass in the shadow of New York City. But that was only the beginning. Das Boat 3 travels nearly 2,000 miles, chasing everything from Northeast all-stars like cobia, weakfish, and walleyes, to the underdogs of the region like bowfins, snakeheads, and invasive blue catfish.
Along her journey to iconic bays, lakes, and rivers, Das Boat 3 was captained by everyone from top chefs, to fly legends, to bass phenoms, to YouTube sensations, to walleye ringers, all of whom took on the task of modifying the Mako to suit the task at hand. They each brought their own perspectives on angling, conservation issues, culinary tastes, and local customs—because let’s face it, if you’re not from the Northeast, you can be in for a bit of culture shock. Yellow lights are green lights here, turn signals are optional, and if you cut the wrong boat off on the striper grounds, you could end up dodging lead sinkers flying at your head.
Oh, and this year’s crew—myself included—certainly weren’t spared from the misery and mishaps that make up Das Boat’s signature bullshit. We’ve got flooded decks, janky casting platforms, more trailer issues than you can shake a cannoli at, scrapes, bruises, and crushed egos, but hey, this is the Northeast, so just toughen up and deal with it. Capeesh?