‘Deadliest Catch’: Bill Wichrowski Opens Up About Difficulty of Putting Together a Great Crew

by Craig Garrett

Deadliest Catch‘s Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski recently revealed the toughest part of keeping his business afloat during lean years. Commercial crab fishing in the Bering Sea is more difficult than you might think. It involves braving harsh winter conditions, keeping and repairing boat equipment, and working long hours. All in the quest to get your hands on the prized red king crab.

Most of the Deadliest Catch skippers and crews are seasoned enough to know what to anticipate when the task is at its toughest. Season 18, however, throws the cast a big surprise that might have easily ruined any hopes for future fishing. According to Seafood Source, Alaska canceled the winter 2021-22 fishing season because of a decrease in red king crab numbers in the Bering Sea. This sort of thing hadn’t happened in nearly 30 years. With their main source discontinued, the crew of the hit show has had to get inventive in order to fish.

The Deadliest Catch crews shifted from the banned red king crabs to golden king crabs. It might seem like a simple switch to landlubbers. However, the golden variety of crabs presented new problems. For one thing, golden king crabs live in much deeper waters than their red cousins. Captain Josh Harris said as much in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “It is deep down there, and you catch a lot of weird things,” Harris told EW. “You’re going miles deep into the ocean. It’s really creepy.”

The past couple of years have been hard on the Deadliest Catch crews

However, shifting focus on what the crews of The Deadliest Catch fish for weren’t their only problem. The skippers struggled to keep their crews together during the dry spell.

A competent crew is critical for any Deadliest Catch shipping boat to succeed in a catch. After all, commercial crab fishing is a physically demanding and hazardous task that is constantly exacerbated by Mother Nature on the open ocean. So, in reality, a successful hunt is based on how well a team performs and if they do something well enough to keep them around. However, according to Wild Bill Wichrowski, the winter hunting closure has made it more difficult for him and other captains to keep their crew together.

Captain Wichrowski said that he and other skippers have tried to retain their best crewmembers by financially propping them between excursions, even if it means losing money. “It takes years to develop a good bunch of guys that work well together and can perform,” Wichrowski told Fox News. “And if they’re not making any money, they have to find something else to do.” He explained that he’d witnessed friends in the sector go bankrupt in between the never-ending squeeze of the shutdown and COVID-19.