Reba, TJ’s beloved dog and a fan-favorite presence on Wicked Tuna, passed away last year. And in “Dog Days,” the March 20 episode of the National Geographic reality series, TJ’s Hot Tuna crewmates — Tim Ott Sr., Mike “Bubby” Ott, and Jarrett Przybyszewski — went fishing in Reba’s honor.
Reba died of cancer, but her spirit will “always be on the Hot Tuna,” TJ says.
According to Channel Guide Magazine, Reba died of cancer during filming. Viewers had seen her on Wicked Tuna ever since TJ joined the show in Season 3, so her absence is conspicuous.
in a clip from the March 20 episode, a grieving TJ says that he got Reba when she was eight weeks old. “So I would say that this is, you know, hands down, the hardest day of my life,” TJ added in the episode.
But he also appreciated that crew was fishing aboard Hot Tuna in a tribute to their fallen canine companion.
“There’s no better feeling knowing that the guys went out and actually caught a fish in Reba’s honor,” he said. “It was like she was out there with them, helping them catch this fish. It was a very tough day for me, but this definitely helps me get through it. Moving forward, it’s gonna be hard. Fishing without her is gonna be very difficult. Regardless of whether or not Reba’s on board or not, her spirit will always be on the Hot Tuna.”
TJ’s Hot Tuna crewmates landed a massive fish in Reba’s honor.
In another clip from the episode, we see the Hot Tuna guys find their catch.
“We just had ten whales going ballistic next to the boat, feeding. There’s shearwater everywhere. So something’s going to happen here,” Bubby tells viewers. “It’s a weird feeling right now, not seeing Reba running around, barking. She would have gone ballistic with those whales.”
Eventually, the guys hook something, and they struggle to bring their catch up to the surface. “We need this one for Reba, man,” Tim Sr. says, as Jarrett reels in the fish. “This is for Reba.”
After a tug of war, the Hot Tuna crew manage to bring the massive tuna aboard. “First one for me in two years,” Bubby says. “This one means a lot. you know? Great dog.”
Wicked Tuna costar Bob Cook, captain of the Fat Tuna, also celebrates the Hot Tuna’s win in that clip. “So they got one on deck for Reba,” Bob says. “Hopefully she gets one last lick. We love you, girl. God bless you. God bless her soul.”
Viewers are also mourning the dog’s death.
On Wicked Tuna’s Facebook page, viewers are expressing their condolences over Reba’s passing.
“I’m so very sorry for your family’s loss,” one fan wrote. “May all of your wonderful memories of Reba help you get through this.”
Another commented, “Sending big hugs and prayers to you and your family. My husband and I watch this show all the time, and I cried. She was a very cool dog. She will be missed.”