'Deadliest Catch' Star Josh Harris Previews His New Spinoff 'Bloodline'
Deadliest Catch fans will always root for Josh Harris. And now, that good will extends beyond the Bering Sea.
In the new spinoff Deadliest Catch: Bloodline, premiering Tuesday, Josh heads to Hawaii’s Kona Coast with newly discovered fishing charts annotated by his beloved dad, the late Capt. Phil Harris, in the 1980s. Together with business partner Casey McManus, Josh investigates the old man’s scribbled tips on where to reel in ahi tuna—worth roughly $2,000 a pop—and, of course, the best places to grab a drink on the island.
Below, he tells us more.
It was about this time last year when you discovered these charts tucked away in your dad’s stateroom on the Cornelia Marie as you were remodeling the boat. How soon did you think, “I need to figure out what his dream was, and it needs to be a show?”
Josh Harris: There were like 50 or 60 different charts in there. There were three of Hawaii that had a lot of markings on them. We started talking to some of the network people: “It would be kind of crazy to go test this out. Maybe we could do a special or something on this.” As things started unfolding, it was like, “This would be a really good spinoff show.” It was definitely a learning experience, trying to figure out why he went over there. I think I got a pretty good idea of what the old man was up to.
You and Casey team up with local commercial fisherman Jeff Silva, who’s understandably both curious what a legend like Phil found in his waters and skeptical of outsiders. Was it a hard sell to get him involved?
We used our charm. [Laughs] He’s the best of the best over there. He's one of the top dogs. And it was like, "Hey, man. Maybe you'd be interested in helping us out. Teach us the ropes, because it is definitely harder catching fish than it is crab.” He wasn't exactly tickled pink at the beginning, but after we started getting at it and working together every day, he was pretty excited to see what was going to happen too.
You were there for about three months. What were the biggest challenges?
Pretty much everything. Learning about rods and reels, learning about the different types of fishing line. All the different species of fish. I mean, I still can't pronounce the state fish [the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a]. And it's dangerous out there. You got sharks. You got, of course, bad weather. It's not like the weather we see up in Alaska, but we're on a boat that's 19 foot long [in Hawaii]. If you fall overboard, you got a lot of stuff that can eat you in the water.
Did you encounter sharks?
I can't tell you too much, but yeah. We had a situation with a shark. We had a situation with a whale shark. I've never seen fish that big. I mean, at a certain point I looked at Casey [and said], "We need a bigger boat, dude." Because those fish out there are absolutely bonkers.
So there's so much to learn. Learning about the people and respecting the culture was a really big deal. Like, you can't just lob into any place you want to, because there's certain places that are restricted due to sacred ground or stuff like that. Trying to get the other fishermen to be cool with us so they didn’t sink our boat. Because sometimes, if you don't belong fishin’ out there they ain't gonna let you fish.
The only thing I have to compare it to is that surfing movie Blue Crush, where there are spots the locals don’t want the tourists to know about.
Yeah. They get really territorial out there. At least in the Bering Sea it’s like, [if] they don't like you out there, they'll just pot you down [setting gear right next to yours]. This place, they'll sink your boat or pop your tires on your trailer. There's a lot of stuff that they can do to you. They are a band of brothers, and they stick together quite well.
Did you have anything happen to you?
Not yet! So I feel really good about that. Everyone was pretty cool. We were really respectful. We just did what we needed to do, and always [said] "please" and "thank you" and gave back to the community.
I know fellow Catch favorite Johnathan Hillstrand comes to Hawaii. What’s he doing there?
You know what, I was asking the same question! Him and my dad were cut from the same cloth. So it only seems right to have Jonathan pop over, maybe throw his two cents in on what he thought my dad could have been getting into and why. Anywhere you take Johnathan, it's always an adventure.
On the charts, one of your dad's notes says "lots of great bars.” Did you get to meet people who had crossed paths with him? How did they remember him?
We did go out and experience the nightlife. And we ran into a fella who actually had a shirt or something signed on the wall in his office from when my dad was there last. The guy said he was going to give me the shirt, too, and I was like, “No, you can keep it. I've got enough of my dad's memorabilia. This is how I'd like to see it.”
So I got to hear the stories about my dad. I was really overtaken by it. I could see why my dad went there, and how the money can be made there. We're probably going to look into this and keep this going. Between that and the crab seasons, it's going to be a full year.
Let’s talk about the new season of Deadliest Catch (also premiering Tuesday). It’s very much being billed as USA vs. Russia. I felt like the trailer should have been playing the Rocky IV training montage music. Explain the situation.
Our crab has always been of a much superior quality. Russia revamped their whole fishing industry, re-divvied out quota and changed the way that they process their crab so they get a better product that's close to ours. So if we don't get our crab in first, then they would be getting the top dollar. It was really scary on our end, because they have a lot of crab over there that they can catch and put into the market. We have to go not only faster, but just more efficiently. If the weather's crappy, you still got to go out. We found ourselves fishing when probably we shouldn't have been fishing in order to get that top dollar. So it was a big race. It’s something that will continue now, because if we get our crab in late, we’re gonna lose a couple dollars a pound. And that’s definitely not good, because every dollar counts.
Deadliest Catch returns Tuesday, April 14 at 8/7c on Discovery, followed by the premiere of the spinoff series Deadliest Catch: Bloodline at 10/9c