If the Discovery Channel was angling for a hit show, then they hauled it in with the “Deadliest Catch,” which premiered in 2005 and has aired every year since.

The documentary series, narrated by Mike Rowe, follows crab fishermen and crab boats as they ply their dangerous and sometimes deadly trade in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king crab and snow crab fishing seasons. The base for the crab fleet is the Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. 

Through the years of the TV show’s airing, it has proven popular around the globe, making the skippers, their crewman, and their boats, celebrities in their own right.

This year’s season, which kicks off with a two-hour premiere on April 19, finds the crews of nine crab vessels trying to cope with the Alaskan government shutting down red king crab catching for the season. You’ll also find them contending with the usual treacherous seas, intense rivalries, and business setbacks.

Besides the dangers the crabbers face, a large attraction of the series is the interactions of the salty characters with the crew members of other ships. If you want to spend some time in their company — without the wild bucking of a boat — keep reading.

Who are the Main Cast Members of the “Deadliest Catch?”

Since the red king crab season has been canceled and the local fishery has taken a hit, the captains of the crabbing vessels must find new ways to make ends meet and stay afloat. In many cases, this means the “Deadliest Catch” stars must fish for other kinds of crab and fish.

This season, two boats, the F/V Time Bandit (captained by Johnathan Hillstrand) and the F/V Cornelia Marie (captained by Josh Harris and Casey McManus), have won the bid to go after golden king crabs, which live four times deeper than red king crabs.

Johnathan Hillstrand at the helm of F/V Time Bandit

Johnathan Hillstrand at the helm of F/V Time Bandit

Captain Sig Hansen (of the F/V Northwestern) has had quite the journey this season. He tries to convert an old coast guard ship into a fishing vessel, learns where red king crabs live in the Barents Sea, and then fishes them in time to get back before his granddaughter is born. For you avid fans – yes – Sig’s daughter (captain Mandy Hansen Pederson) is having a baby. 

Captain Jake Anderson (of the F/V Saga) wants to try catching black cod but doesn’t have the quota or tools to fish them. Anderson approaches captain Sean Dwyer (of the F/V Elinore J) to secure his black cod quota, but Dwyer will only accept the deal if Anderson provides the pink slip of the F/V Saga as collateral. If Anderson’s crew doesn’t learn how to catch black cod, he may have to give the vessel away.

Deadliest Catch - F/V Saga at Sea

F/V Saga at Sea

Dwyer himself has decided to catch Dungeness crab — they aren’t as profitable as red king crabs, but there’s also no limit on how many you can catch. 

While captain Keith Colburn’s vessel, the F/V Wizard, still requires repairs, he has decided to go after bairdi snow crabs. After F/V Patricia Lee lost a crewmember last fishing season, captain Rip Cartson is determined to protect his crew at all costs, while still making a living fishing.

“Deadliest Catch” Cast Members from Previous Seasons

While the 2022 season of “Deadliest Catch” has many cast favorites returning, there are others who sailed through previous storylines and still have a place in fans’ hearts. 

One of the popular characters who is missed today is Phil Harris, captain, and part-owner of the crab fishing vessel F/V Cornelia Marie. First, his health was impaired when he was thrown out of his bunk during a storm. He suffered a stroke while offloading opilio crab in port at Saint Paul Island, Alaska, in January 2010. Harris died in the hospital on February 9, 2010, at the age of 53. An episode of “Deadliest Catch” featuring Harris’s death aired on July 20, 2010, and was followed by a special tribute episode.

The veterans and greenhorns include:

  • Deckhand and engineer Edgar Hansen (2005–2018)
  • Relief Captain Monty Colburn (2007-2021)
  • Captain Bill Wichrowski (2010-2021)
  • Deckhand Jake Harris (2006-2020)
  • Deckhand and engineer Zach Larson (2010-2019)

How Much do “Deadliest Catch” Crab Fishers Get Paid?

According to some sources, deckhands on the show can make about $150,000 to $170,000 a year. However, this money isn’t guaranteed — it depends on the size of the catch. It’s also seasonal work, so if you don’t make a good amount of money on the boat, you may have a bare cupboard at home. During the season, deckhands can typically make anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 for a couple of months of work handling crab pots and braving the unfriendly sea.

Another source claims that anecdotal evidence shows that while crab vessel captains may make $200,000 a year, their deckhands generally get half that.

All “Deadliest Catch” Fishing Boats to Date

The fishing vessels that have sailed through the Discovery.com series include:

  • F/V Aleutian Ballad
  • F/V Arctic Dawn
  • F/V Billikin
  • F/V Brenna A
  • F/V Cape Caution
  • F/V Cornelia Marie
  • F/V Early Dawn
  • F/V Erla N
  • F/V Farwest Leader
  • F/V Fierce Allegiance
  • F/V Incentive
  • F/V Kiska Sea
  • F/V Kodiak
  • F/V Lady Alaska
  • F/V Lisa Marie
  • F/V Lucky Lady
  • F/V Maverick
  • F/V North American
  • F/V Northwestern
  • F/V Patricia Lee
  • F/V Ramblin’ Rose
  • F/V Retriever
  • F/V Rollo
  • F/V Saga
  • F/V Seabrooke
  • F/V Sea Star
  • F/V Southern Wind
  • F/V Summer Bay
  • F/V Time Bandit
  • F/V Vixen
  • F/V Western Viking
  • F/V Wizard

What Ship Sank from “Deadliest Catch?”

The F/V Summer Bay didn’t actually sink in season 17 of  “Deadliest Catch,” but it came close. At the end of the fishing season, captain Wild Bill decided his crew should catch another 165,000 pounds of wild cod before returning to dock. While anchoring at their fishing destination, an alarm sounded from the forward bilge — warning that the boat had sprung a leak. By a miracle, the ship made it back from port before sinking.

Deadliest Catch - F/V Summer Bay

F/V Summer Bay

This is not to say that crab-fishing vessels don’t sink. On New Year’s Eve of 2019, Alaska fishermen were shocked to learn that F/V Scandies Rose had rolled onto its side, killing captain Gary Cobban and three crew members. Two crew members were rescued in a life raft provided by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.

How Many Seasons and Episodes of “Deadliest Catch” are There?

On April 19, 2022, “Deadliest Catch” began its 18th season with a two-hour premiere on Discovery and Discovery+. Over the first 17 seasons, 287 episodes aired. 

For your viewing pleasure, be sure to check out the following spin-offs: “Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove” and “Deadliest Catch: Bloodline.”

Where Can You Watch “Deadliest Catch?”

You can watch “Deadliest Catch” on FuboTV or Discovery+. You can also stream “Deadliest Catch” by renting or purchasing on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, and Vudu.

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Heather Reinblatt

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV