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Captain Josh Harris is returning to the high seas, and there are plenty of turbulent waters.
The 39-year-old is sailing back to Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” Season 18 explores how the captains are faced with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the Alaskan government’s shutdown of red king crab catching for the first time in 25 years.
For Harris, it’s especially personal as he reconnects with his estranged brother Shane. The pair got back in touch after their father, renowned fisherman Phil Harris, died in 2010 at age 53.
As for Captain “Wild” Bill Wichrowski, he’s determined to reel in viewers and show them the no-nonsense reality of searching the Bering Sea for a new way to make a living before risking financial ruin.
Josh Harris and Wichrowski spoke to Fox News Digital about what audiences can expect from Season 18, putting family first and the one superstition they swear by.
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Fox News: Josh, you reconnected with your brother in the upcoming season. What was that experience like for you?
Captain Josh Harris: I did get to reconnect with my older brother, and that experience was the same as I remembered as a kid. He’s a lot more ripped than I am and he can outrun me, but really a great guy. And he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still a goofball, a hard worker and definitely full of life. And that was a good thing because we needed all that for the season that was coming up.
Fox News: Bill, for the first time in 25 years, the Alaskan government shut down red king crab catching for the season. How worried were you in terms of making a living?
Captain “Wild” Bill Wichrowski: Well, I was around for the one 25 years ago and that was devastating because typically fishermen live check to check. But now that I’m a little older, my partner and I had a little bit of a war chest set up. The hard part is to maintain a crew because it’s really hard to replace these guys.
It takes years to develop a good bunch of guys that work well together and can perform. And if they’re not making any money, they have to find something else to do. The challenge was to try to get some money to these guys to keep their life moving at a normal pace until we got into the next fisheries. And we did everything we could.
Fox News: Josh, what do you believe was the biggest lesson that your father taught you about being a successful fisherman?
Harris: He just never quit. You go until the wheels fall off. That’s how it goes. He’s just got a lot of heart and a lot of drive and there is no quit. A lot of fighting the dog, and we’ll fight until the death. That’s just the way it works.
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Fox News: Some viewers may watch “Deadliest Catch” and think, “I could do that, I can handle that.” What advice would you give to someone who thinks they can handle this job?
Wichrowski: My advice would be if a guy wanted to learn how to crab fish, I’d say, “Go to a meatpacking plant, sit in a freezer for a couple of days and have your friends come by about every 20 minutes and throw a bucket of cold water in your face.” And after a couple of days to that, if you still want to go then give me a call.
Harris: *Laughs* I think he nailed that one.
Fox News: Josh, what was the biggest challenge that you faced after reconnecting with your brother Shane?
Harris: The biggest challenge I faced is taking a 46-year-old man that’s never been crabbing and that you really love a lot and then putting him out on the deck of a crab boat. That was challenging itself. It’s like taking someone out of retirement and putting them on a weird carnival ride of some sort and telling them to stand up. It was interesting and challenging. After dang near 20 years, you don’t want to just be yelling at your brother when you see him. It does happen.
Fox News: So you didn’t take Bill’s advice then?
Harris: *Laughs* My brother likes to jump head first into things and not think about too much. He’s tough. And if you’re going to be dumb, you’ve gotta be tough. But we’re both alive so that’s a good thing.
Fox News: Bill, what’s a misconception you feel the public still has about crab fishing and what’s the reality?
Wichrowski: I think you said something earlier that rings home. Everybody sits on the couch and thinks, “Oh, I can do that,” and the reality is it’s a small percentage of people that come up and try that even get close to succeeding. Everybody sits on the couch in front of the TV with a bag of Cheetos thinking, “Oh, I could do that.” But what they don’t understand is that there are hours and hours and days and days of just a monotonous grind that’ll separate the men from the boys. It’s a lot harder than it looks on TV.
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Fox News: Josh, were you ever tempted in terms of not pursuing fishing so that you can spend more time at home with your family?
Harris: Oh, every day — every day — especially after I lost my dad. I resented fishing for quite some time. And the money’s different. It’s not the same as it used to be. We have to actually work really hard for everything we’ve got, and there’s no room for air. Things were a little grim there for a bit, but the Hillstrands really picked me up, dusted me off and gave me that want and will, and that drive to get back in the industry.
If I work hard right now, we obtain as much money as we can, then I’ll be able to be around my kids in the teenager age, which is really going to need some direction. That’s my goal. Just a couple more years of hard work and then I’ll be able to maybe take some time off and really spend it with the kids. That’s what I’m shooting for.
Fox News: Bill, are there any fishing superstitions you take seriously?
Wichrowski: I’m not an extremely superstitious guy, but the leaving on Friday thing. Some facts back that one up. The vessel Friday left on a Friday and they were lost. And I don’t know if it’s just chance, but it seems like if you push the envelope and you leave on a Friday, you’re just waiting for something to happen. Whether we just look at things and if something is a little awry we blame it on Friday, but that’s about the only one that I ever look at and scratch my head.
“Deadliest Catch” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Discovery.