“Deadliest Catch” is in opilio season, the worst season for crab fishing where ice builds up on the decks and equipment, the sea freezes making navigation harder, and finding gear even worse as the ice cap proceeds south to make fishing nearly impossible.
As the season progresses, it is men against ice, and the ice is winning. Andy does not want to go out but has no choice. As the ice progresses southward, they will lose their gear if they do not race to retrieve it.
On the Time Bandit, Johnathan tells Josh how proud he is of him and how much he hopes that he can make a go of it with the Cornelia Marie, but his backache is too much to allow him to stay on the boat, and he leaves to go home after they offload their catch before going back out.
One pot of crab lost can cost a boat $3,000 and as the Kodiak crew sees some of their gear under the ice. After several attempts to throw the hook in the icy sea, Jason Rainwater finally makes it on the fourth try. The first of forty-five pots is saved, and they have just forty-four to find and then retrieve. But the crew gangs up on Rainwater complaining and giving him grief. Tensions are high enough with the weather, and now a divided crew threatens to make a bad situation worse.
On the Wizard, they have to offload quickly and hopefully make it back to find their soaking pots before they are lost forever. As Keith tries to pull into the harbor, the ice is a foot thick as he tries to turn the boat around as carefully as possible so they do not damage the hull. As his brother Monty drives the boat, Keith is on deck calling orders to shift gears to make it to the dock. It took eight hours to get to the dock, and with a 36-hour offload, they can only pray that they are not frozen and unable to break away from the dock.
The Northwestern is in the harbor offloading, and Sig hopes they are not frozen in. Sig manages to back out of the harbor and turn the boat around in the clear water. Now to find the gear will be another story.
On the Seabrooke, Junior and his crew are still stuck in Dutch Harbor after sixteen days of engine repairs, far behind the rest of the fleet and down $70,000 for repairs. The weather is not in his favor either and three new crew aboard.
The Time Bandit found their pots, and they are filled with crab. On the last offload, they even got a new coiler to make the deckhands smile even more. Andy is happy and the crew is happy with full pots. Josh Harris gets a chance to do every job on the boat; that will make him a good captain. Now he is working the stack that ices up, not a job for the queasy.
Now free from the ice, the Northwestern steams toward the ice in hopes of finding their gear. Jake Harris is the only one who is not ready to go as the rest of the crew wakes him from his slumber. But as the first pot is full of crab, Josh is nowhere to be found, and both Sig, Edgar, and the rest of the crew are more than annoyed with his behavior. Jake admits that he is homesick for his brother and the Cornelia Marie.
On the Seabrooke, they finally reach the crab grounds, and Kyle is new to the hydros. As he is doing well, Mac tells him to keep the pot close to the tire on the crane, but the hook fails and a pot falls off the crane. Fortunately nobody was under the pot.
Now that the Wizard has offloaded a record catch, they have to get out of Dutch Harbor before the ice swallows their gear. Keith has to rock the boat back and forth to break loose from the ice that has the boat captured at the dock, and rocking the boat is not an easy task. As they are close to the dock, a buoy bag popped letting Keith know how close they were to the dock. Tempers are short in the wheelhouse, and Keith snaps off at Lenny, one of his most faithful deckhands. Keith gets an idea to use the crane to bust off some of the chunks of ice that have them trapped, and it worked as they slowly make their path out of the harbor and carefully go through the ice floes and out to their awaiting crab pots, undoubtedly the “Deadliest Catch.”
Photo of the Hillstrand Brothers: Flickr