HomeEntertainment‘Deadliest Catch’: Captain Sig Hansen Reveals How Tough It Was Pulling Longtime Crew Member Out of Retirement

‘Deadliest Catch’: Captain Sig Hansen Reveals How Tough It Was Pulling Longtime Crew Member Out of Retirement

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Captain Sig Hansen returns to “Deadliest Catch” for another season. And the sea captain is getting his crew back together again. Hansen pulled tooth and nail to get his longtime friend and partner John Hillstrand to come out of retirement.

“You’re talking about John Hillstrand now. I’ll tell you what, trying to convince a guy like that is pretty tough because he’s got a one-track mind,” Hansen told Fox News.

Hillstrand helmed the Time Bandit opposite Hansen’s Northwestern. The two had been the face of “Deadliest Catch” for years. But Hillstrand insisted on retiring away from the fishing industry.

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“He’s like, ‘I’m retiring. I’m going to be on my motorcycle or my racecar and I’m going to go do me,’” Hansen recalled. “That’s how John is and that’s why we love John. But that being said, he understood and between him and me, it was like, ‘Look, because now we have a quota system, we can now lease, buy and sell our crab that we have for each vessel. So if he’s leasing his crab, well, that’s great. That means that he has no overhead, he’s not putting his boat to work and he can lease his numbers and then share in that wealth.”

But Captain Sig Hansen managed to draw Hillstrand out of retirement by pointing out the entire industry was in danger. They had to make a certain quota, and they needed Hillstrand’s expertise on the open water.

“If you don’t set that precedent for this year and if they do close it, we’re looking at a disaster and now you’ve got nothing to lease because there’s nothing to catch,” Hansen continued.

Ultimately, Hillstrand came out of retirement to fuel his own self-interest. He realized that he couldn’t make money off leasing if the industry went under. So, he decided to once more brave the Bering Strait to do his part in keeping the crab industry thriving.

“So once he understood that, it was an easy one,” Hansen continued. “You know, it was like, ‘OK, now that makes sense. I better get off my bum and go do something here and play ball. And that’s exactly what he did. And trying to get a guy off the bench and back out in it – once it comes down to the numbers and his own sustainability, he started singing a different tune pretty quick and so did a lot of guys because, I mean, we didn’t know if you were going to have an industry.”