Captain Josh Harris has a tiger by the tail as he returns to the Big Island in season two of Deadliest Catch: Bloodline. And along with his co-captain Casey McManus, the two reunite with island fishing guru Jeff Silva, currently seen as a greenhorn on the Time Bandit in Deadliest Catch season 17.
Silva is not the only Deadliest crossover, as the “Zelig” of the crabbers, Johnathan Hillstrand, is in this spinoff series too.
And rightly so as Harris loves Hillstrand like a dad, and on the season two premiere, the happy reunion, and the business deal is struck that will allow Johnathan an excuse to “go check on the boat,” as Harris joked with us in an exclusive interview with TV Shows Ace.
Harris Has Returned to the Big Island
In the new season, further analysis of his late father’s fishing charts reveals another clue and a possible workaround from the COVID shutdown the fisheries are experiencing at the height of the pandemic.
People stayed home, and the buyers of the expensive fish dried up. The premiere revealed Silva in a state of worry and Josh and Casey looking to strike a deal with a Las Vegas player to buy their fresh fish. The tenacity and the luck panned out, and Josh and Casey McManus hit an agreement for their first initial sample order, and the show was on.
The men returned to Hawaii to grow their fishing business. Finding an industry in ruin, they know it won’t last forever, and the deal is sealed with Binion’s Casino in Vegas.
The new season not only features Hillstrand coming to the rescue for a boat swap, but brother Jake Harris is also shown in the premiere, and we learned in the interview that there’s a good chance the younger Harris will be part of the next Bloodline season.
The chances for success are in their favor as exponential growth and millions in fish sales are dangling just off the end of the hook as vaccination rollouts and with Vegas fully open for business.
Josh and Casey, alongside Jeff Silva, one of the island’s top commercial fishermen, enlist a fourth partner with the irrepressible Johnathan Hillstrand. With this wildcard in their ranks, the captains look to expand their fleet, crew and even sail their famed crab boat, the F/V Cornelia Marie, to Hawaii.
And the spirit of the series remains Captain Phil Harris, who inspired this entire spinoff. Josh Harris’ efforts to build the family business and continue to solve the mystery of his dad Phil Harris’ secret past is a righteous send-up and tribute to his father.
Exclusive interview with Josh Harris of Deadliest Catch: Bloodline
You are back in big style!
Josh Harris: What do you think? Do you like it?
The biggest reason why I love the first episode was that we get to see your brother Jake Harris back in the fold. Your brother actually made it through the ride, as they say…
Josh Harris: Yes, and I have boats in Seattle right now, and we’re retrofitting them, and he was just working right next to me a second ago. He’s been doing really well and just taking baby steps with him, and he’s still working through this stuff. If he’s comfortable and feels good enough and strong enough to come back to work, then we’re here with open arms for him.
There’s a little talk that maybe for season three, he might be there for a bit of Bloodline. We’ll see.
And talk about maybe having him come back to the boat. So we got a lot of stuff that’s entirely up to him and what the network thinks and everything. This is the first time we’ve actually hung out on a daily basis in over 12 years. I’m really proud of him, and he was always funnier than I was by a long shot and is definitely back full force.
What do you think saved him?
Josh Harris: You know what? I guess when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, you know?
There was a lot of pressure on him throughout his life, and he kind of just didn’t deal with things for a long time… and he’s getting older now. He’s been doing a lot of stuff with my family that’s really helped him a lot because he’d probably have a lot of feelings of just confusion about what really happened. I mean, that’s what he used as a coping mechanism, and now he’s really dealt with a lot of stuff, and he’s just been finding healthier things to do.
He is in a new relationship. His girl has a couple of kids, and he loves being a dad, and he’s really good at it. He’s really good with kids. That keeps him really busy. He’s been hanging out with my kid a lot too. He’s the awesome uncle, and whenever he’s over at my house, my daughter doesn’t even talk to me. It’s like, ‘okay, dad…’
So I am like, okay… I’m chopped liver now! That’s how we’re doing that. [laughs] But seeing that he’s loved and that he is accepted and stuff…I think for a long period of time, he held a lot of shame and a lot of guilt over things.
And finally, I believe he just came to terms of accepting the fact that bad things happen, but we get to put one foot in front of the other, and you’ve got a family here. Let’s do it. It’s not like you’ve been shunned out of this industry.
Everybody has bad days, and it’s just time to get back on the horse. I think he’s really doing well.
Speaking of second acts, Johnathan Hillstrand, not only on your show but on the core show…
Josh Harris: [laughs] Yeah. You gotta love John. I mean, it is amazing. We made a joke when he came over to check out Bloodline and give us some insight, and it was like, I was laughing when I said it. I wasn’t really fully serious that I would come and help him on his boat.
And, then it happened …and he had me come over three days before, and he’s like, ‘Hey dude… Like you said, you’d come over. And as before this, your dad would have loved it.’
It’s like, all right. All right. Give me a little more of a heads up, instead of just three days because we had everything mapped out here. It’s like, come on! He was like, ‘You said you’d do it.’ It’s like. F*** All right! Well, you know, there’s only one other boat I would fish on. And that’s the Time Bandit. Yes. But I absolutely love those guys and stuff. That’s about to happen. It’s great.
Has your daughter expressed an interest in fishing or Crewing a boat, or learning how to navigate waters?
Josh Harris: Oh my God. Yeah, whenever we go on the little boat, she has to drive, and we go crabbing sometimes it’s for fun with Dungeness crab, and she grabs them out of the pot, and me being the dad, I’m like, ‘Whoa, you know, you can’t just be grabbing them!’
‘It’s fine, dad.’ It’s fun. I tell her they’ll snap your fingers in half, and there is no fear in that kid of mine. No fear.
I told her, you have got to go to school. It is really important. She goes, ‘it’s just overrated, dad!’
No, it’s not overrated. And you’re going to go to school, and you’re going to do well as this [fishing] industry is up and down. You never know.
So, I’m hoping that she goes to school and is focused on that. She knows I didn’t graduate school, so she was like, look how you turned out. I tell her that it’s a little bit different. It’s a lot harder life, and that she is smart and good with people. She has a lot more advantage of that than when I was younger.
I thought was interesting was you and Casey were catching an entirely different fish, and nearby was Jeff, and he was catching Ahi. How did, how did that happen?
Josh Harris: You got to think about this. Those fish swim anywhere from 40 to 65 miles an hour. So, where we fish, you’re going to find all different species of fish.
Now, the Mahi Mahi are typically are more on the surface. Others do come up to the surface, but the surface water is so warm. So they only come up for a second. And then they go back down to the deep.
And when there’s bait around, it kind of just cooled down on the cooler water, and then they come up from one big rush, and then they go back down. The Mahi Mahi will stay on top. So when you get into a school of Mahi Mahi, you start fishing, but they all go after the bait. Once they find a really big school, then you’re going to have all different species there.
We get paid more for the Ahi, but while we’re over there slaying them, Jeff has already on the point of catching the Ahi and get those in line because they’ll mob together in a school of fish. So it’s like somebody gets out one school, and we need to get X type of fish, might as well stick with it, and roll with it.
And so we’re still learning how to catch the Ahi; it’s a little bit more of a difficult fish to catch. Mahi Mahi? Man, I will tell you what, And I’ll say what they’re fun to catch. And they mob deep in [their] schools. And it’s one of those deals where it doesn’t matter where you are or if you’re far apart or close together if you’re around the Bay, you can get all different species sharks, Ahi, Big Eyed Tuna, and of course, get Mahi Mahi, a fish, so nice they had to name it twice.
Will you establish a home in Hawaii in the off-season. Is that in the future?
Josh Harris: Well, we’re looking at it because our model for the fishing business is “from the hook to the plate in 48.’
There are many places that we can’t get the fish to in that timeframe without freezing it; you don’t want to freeze it. It is all about the flavor. So, as they set up in Hawaii and they’re getting pretty established there, Jeff—mainly because he’s been there his whole life— there are other places too that we wouldn’t mind checking out that had the same type of fish.
But for the most part, though, yes… I mean, I could definitely see myself getting a place in Hawaii and fishing that out for months at a time because there’s a lot of money to be made.
It is a lot less overhead when you’re in Hawaii. I mean, come on, I can use my cell phone on the boat. I think my expenses during the day are probably $300 a day for fuel and food and a couple of brews, and you’re home every night too. So that’s great.
Okay. I have a logistics question for you. Now, you were given a thousand pounds sample order. Do you have to deliver it in one fell swoop or portions?
Josh Harris: No one fell swoop; you got to do it all in one shot.
You were really under the gun time-wise then; you got a third of the weight of what you need, and how do you keep that fish fresh without freezing it?
Josh Harris: So what happens is we catch fish, and generally, they ask to be in a brine for a day to two days so that the meat is hardened and stays cool. And it’s got to be in this salty brine, and it just kind of sets the meat just perfectly.
And then you can butcher it, but we have a three-day window of catching these fish. And you get all this stuff in sometimes; if it’s a big order, we can stretch out to maybe six, seven days. Butcher it up. And then the meat is only good once they’re butchered for a couple of days, where it’s going to be prime.
That’s what we’re shooting for is having the best product on the planet when it comes to Ahi because we can catch it by a pole. You’re not stressing the fish out.
You do not want it to have a lot of adrenaline going through their body; it’s kind of like when you butcher cows or pigs; it’s gotta be a quick, fast death. When fish are all together, they start stressing out, which can change the flavor of the meat altogether.
So I like catching them with the pole. You get a better product just for the fact that they don’t stress out as bad. The meat is always a lot tastier.
Is there a special airline for getting your fish to Vegas?
Josh Harris: [laughs] There is, and that is something that you’ll just have to see. Letting you know that there is, and we’ve got to figure that one out. Uh-huh.
So the first boat you took out to the tsunami buoy in the open ocean and was beyond choppy. The swells were beating the crap out of your boat. And then you had a fire.
Josh Harris: That was not our finest moment. I am not going to lie to you. We’re so used to a bigger boat that it seemed like it was a good idea, and then it went from bad to terrible in a blink of an eye.
So that was embarrassing, but because we’re pretty experienced Mariners. I didn’t really think that that was gonna happen, and it did. So it took the wind out of our sails right out of the gate.
Hillstrand said something interesting on the video call, he said, I don’t lend money, but I’ll buy a boat with you. Elaborate on that.
Josh Harris: (Laughs) I think he just wanted to be part of the gang and kind of check it out and see if he’s still got it, you know? And he’s just such a quirky creature—that guy.
And when he came up, and he realized that, yeah, I got it. And it kind of slipped the bug in his ear to just set him up for everything. God, he’s just such a great guy that he’s just so animated. How could you not love Johnathan Hillstrand?
Right? So he’s not really your partner, or loaning you the money either?
Josh Harris: You know right now, he’s a partner in the boat, but not the company. So it’s just one of those deals like I ended up having to pay him back, but right now, we’re just letting it fly because it gives them an excuse to come to Hawaii and check things out. [He’ll say] ‘I gotta check on my boat.’ It is an instant thing for him to say to his wife, ‘Man, I gotta go check on the boat.’ It’s just cool.
How did Jeff Silva do in his greenhorn year on Deadliest Catch?
Josh Harris: I heard he did really well. I remember the day that he was flying home; he was very excited. They don’t like the cold, and he was wearing two sweatshirts and three pairs of pants on deck.
It was not his forte, but he did it. And that was pretty cool.
When you are done with all this fishing, take over Mike Rowe’s voiceover gig and run with it.
Josh Harris: Well, I’ve been in discussions a little bit about doing some voiceovers, and I would like to pursue it.
So hopefully, in the future, at some point time.
Deadliest Catch: Bloodline new episodes drop every Tuesday on discovery+.