‘Deadliest Catch’: How Much Do Deckhands Make?

by Joe Rutland

“Deadliest Catch” seems to put deckhands in the way of danger when it comes to crab fishing. How much do these people make?

Well, former stars Gary and Kenny Ripka said in a 2016 article from Distractify that deckhands can make between $150,000 and $170,000 a year. Yet they point out something very important. Crab fishing is a seasonal business, meaning a deckhand works about three months per year for that type of cash.

The weather conditions also play a factor for “Deadliest Catch” deckhands. Getting out there on the high seas in the middle of harsh, cold weather is dangerous work.

‘Deadliest Catch’ Stars Give Their Input On Those Salary Numbers

In the Distractify article, Kenny Ripka says, “For crab seasons, deckhands can typically make anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 for a couple [of] months of work.” Gary Ripka says, “My guys this year [in 2016[, I think for 6 weeks…they made $30,000.”

A spokesperson for the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a trade association, offered additional insight.

“The information we have on crabbers’ income is anecdotal, but crewmen we surveyed said they’re making about $100,000 a year and captains twice that,” the spokesperson said. “That’s a lot more than a few years ago.”

“Deadliest Catch” has been on the Discovery Channel since April 12, 2005. It follows crab fishermen who are doing their work in the Bering Sea. The show lets viewers into real-life situations that face these people throughout their seasons out on the water.

Discovery Channel Show Still Reeling From McGlashan’s Death

As we noted earlier, “Deadliest Catch” gives viewers real-life insights into what these people go through in their lives.

The difficulties, though, don’t always involve being out in the Bering Sea. Show star Nick McGlashan died from a drug overdose on Dec. 27, 2020, in a Nashville, Tenn., hotel room.

According to the autopsy report, McGlashan, 33, died from a “toxic mix of methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl.” The report also indicates McGlashan was found unresponsive with drug paraphernalia “nearby” in the bathroom.

McGlashan was a deck boss on the “Summer Bay” after becoming a key member for Bill Wichrowski.

In mid-June 2021, “Deadliest Catch” cast members talked about McGlashan.

One-Time Show Star Was Seventh-Generation Fisherman

One crew member said they had “got the weirdest text” telling them McGlashan was dead.

“Wow,” Captain Johnathan Hillstrand said. “[Just] like that, Nick’s gone.”

“I’ve got text messages and words going around that Nick McGlashan passed away,” Captain Sig Hansen said. “Nick was a part of ‘Summer Bay’ and pretty much every boat Bill [Wichrowski]’s been running lately. Bill, you know, treated him as family.”

McGlashan grew up in Akutan, Alaska as a seventh-generation fisherman. He was named for his great uncle Nick McGlashan, according to his Discovery Channel biography.

McGlashan’s great uncle was a fisherman who worked on the boat that supposedly pioneered the U.S. crab industry. Further, McGlashan began crabbing at age 13 with his father Bruce, who is good friends with Wichrowski.

McGlashan became known for rigging quick fixes to boats. Wichrowski called him a true crabber.

The show’s 17th season premiered on April 20, 2021, with the cast obviously talking about McGlashan.

“Deadliest Catch” captains and crews are on the Bering Sea. They’re not only facing the harsh weather but issues around the COVID-19 and not only have to deal with the weather but also the pandemic. Returning captains include Jake Anderson, Keith Colburn, Hansen, Josh Harris, and Wichrowski.

Also, Hansen remarks about the conditions his team faced in one of the new season’s episodes.

“What do you think guys, looking kind of empty isn’t it?” Hansen asked. “You know I’ve been coming up here for 42 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. People are scared. Fisheries are on the brink. And half the fleet is tied up in Seattle. But we still have to catch all our crab.”

Expect to see more daring feats between deckhands and captains as “Deadliest Catch” rolls along the high seas looking for crabs to catch. The show’s reality can take viewers’ breath away at times on their TVs when they watch the action on the Bering Sea.