It’s like asking a miner who’s found the most gold or a chef who has the most Michelin stars for their restaurant. The largest haul of crabs on Deadliest Catch might not determine who truly is the best Bering Sea fisherman, but it certainly paints a picture of his or her talents.
Plenty of the stars on Deadliest Catch have had their reigning moment on the icy waters off the coast of Alaska. Once they pull in cage after cage full of opilio or snow crabs, they get to hop on the radio and share their victory with other envious anglers. The game isn’t just about the number of crustaceans, though. It’s also about size. On the shore, buyers pay fishermen $10 per pound for each crab. So, if they manage to get lots of meaty crabs on their vessels, the payout is pretty ridiculous.
If anyone knows this, it’s legendary Captain Johnathan Hillstrand and his crew aboard the Time Bandit. Fellow Deadliest Catch stars recognize Hillstrand as a formidable force on the Bering Sea. Nearly every season, Hillstrand has demonstrated his impressive skills at the head of his crew, fighting fierce conditions and unlikely odds to bring home a big paycheck for him and his men.
In fact, in season 13, Hillstrand broke Deadliest Catch history with the biggest haul the show had ever seen. Just over 600 miles from the Dutch Harbor, the Time Bandit captain might as well have pulled up gold from the depths of the salty water.
Of course, the reward doesn’t come without a bit of risk. After all, it isn’t called the Daintiest Catch.
‘Deadliest’ Catch Crew Alludes Huge Storm After Record Haul
When Hillstrand navigated the Time Bandit towards the Russian coast, he knew it was a big risk. Roughly 620 miles from Alaska, the journey needed to end with a worthy haul so that the Deadliest Catch star could sufficiently pay his bills and his crew for such a long voyage. Besides the matter of wages, a trip that far out onto the sea leaves the vessel dangerously exposed to perilous weather conditions. Nervous yet determined, Hillstrand went forward with his ambitious plan.
As soon as the deckhands lifted up the first cage, the Deadliest Catch captain knew his efforts were worth the risk. The first cage brought in 440 opilio crabs. With an average weight of three pounds, this cage alone would bring the crew $13,000. Hillstrand’s crew continued to pull cages brimming with massive crustaceans, the largest holding 670 opilio.
However, once Hillstrand got on the radio to brag to fellow angler and brother, Andy, he was told that a huge storm was headed in his direction. Not wanting to push his luck, Hillstrand decided against laying another round of cages and turned tail for the coast. Knowing the kind of damage and chaos a winter storm can bring, the Deadliest Catch star wanted to make it back to shore with his record catch in one piece.