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The Most Dangerous Part Of Fishing In The North On Deadliest Catch - Exclusive

As Discovery Channel's perennial hit Deadliest Catch hits the icy waters of the Bering Strait for its seventeenth season, "Wild" Bill Wichrowski, captain of the F/V Summer Bay, doesn't mince words about crab fishing in the time of COVID

"This is probably the most difficult season I've ever endured, and I've been coming up here since '78," Wichrowski told Looper, in an exclusive interview. With pandemic protocols hampering not only his ability to get underway but timely access to onshore processing facilities, "Wild" Bill and his fellow captains found themselves fighting against new levels of adversity in a line of work that's already difficult and dangerous any day of the week. "COVID made us appreciate when all the plants are operative and everything was status quo," Bill told us, "but we're all fishermen, buddy." 

As Deadliest Catch has always made clear, when it comes down to it, there's nothing to it but to do it. And to that end, "Wild" Bill shared with us a few more observations about the most dangerous parts of fishing in the far north.

Wild Bill on navigating COVID, and trying not to capsize

As its seventeenth season began, the captains of Deadliest Catch were without the advance intelligence from Alaska Fish and Game about where the crabs were hanging out, since the usual surveys weren't performed due to COVID-19 restrictions. This time around, Captain "Wild" Bill Wichrowski and his compatriots were fishing blind. Resourcefulness, alliances, and an ounce or two of luck: whatever it took to find and fish the crab, they were going to use. But they also had to fish ever farther north, where icy conditions and unpredictable seas put even more of a strain on operations. "Yeah, it was the risk," Wichrowski told Looper in an exclusive interview. "From where we were fishing to St. Paul Island was over 300 miles. So you're talking a 500 mile journey to deliver crab." 

And with the logistics of fishing in the north constantly shifting, "Wild" Bill also found himself in a particularly sticky situation.

"My last delivery, we were assessing the entry into St. Paul Harbor, and there was a boat waiting to come out. We had a pretty horrific moment there where we got rolled over on our side." With capsize near-misses and the unprecedented push to find crab — "We're pushing farther north than we ever have. I mean, I've never fished as far north in 40-some years," Bill told Looper — it's clear that the risks and rewards of Deadliest Catch have never been greater.

Deadliest Catch premieres Tuesday, April 20 at 8 PM on Discovery, and is streaming now on Discovery+.