Deadliest Catch Captain Josh Harris never expected that routine maintenance of the Cornelia Marie would send him on an "emotional" quest to follow in the footsteps of his late father, legendary fisherman Phil Harris, in the treacherous waters off Hawaii. Ahead of the premiere of Deadliest Catch: Bloodline on Tuesday, the young captain opened up to PopCulture about how his trip of a lifetime came to be and why it was anything but a tropical vacation.
Josh thought he had found all of his dad's on-board belongings after his tragic death in 2010, but discovered a never-before-seen stash of fishing charts from all over the world during a recent renovation of the captain's quarters. Poring over the maps, covered in his father's handwriting and notes, the Josh was quickly drawn to the heavily-marked chart of Hawaii, which included one of the most premiere fishing spots in the world — the Kona coast.
What started as a crazy pitch to fellow Captain Casey McManus to follow his dad's notes in search of the island’s most lucrative bounty — ahi tuna — and dive deeper into his travels there turned into a real life adventure in less than a week as the pair hopped on a plane to the big island and bought one of the tiniest boats either of them had ever captained on a fishing expedition.
Turns out fishing on the Bering Sea had not prepared Josh and Casey for what they were about to face in the crystal clear waters of Hawaii: "There's sunburn and everything out there wants to kill you, we come to find out," Josh joked to PopCulture. "It's such a different kind of extreme. ... These fish have teeth and they kill everything in the water. It's intense."
Enlisting the help of Jeff Silva, one of the island's top commercial fishermen, Josh admitted he was really struggling with the learning curve right off the bat. "I look like a total derelict, it was something to see," he said. "It's as real as real can get, and I don’t know what the hell I'm doing."
The days might have been grueling, but getting to follow his dad's trail, visit the places he had fished and meet the people he had worked with decades ago was "a real emotional experience" for Josh.
"I was scared. But at the same time, I gotta be able to beat [my dad] at something," he said, admitting that even his most "epic" seasons on the Bering Sea haven't managed to crack Captain Phil's records. "It was something I had to do for myself."
For more of Josh's adventures out on the Bering Sea as well as down in Hawaii, don't miss Deadliest Catch, returning Tuesday, April 14 at 8 PM ET on Discovery, followed by the spinoff series Deadliest Catch: Bloodline at 10 PM ET. Deadliest Catch: Bloodline is produced for Discovery Channel by Fremantle’s Original Productions. For Original Productions Brian Lovett, Jeff Hasler, Ernie Avila, Peta Peterson and Arom Starr-Paul are executive producers. For Discovery Channel, Bill Howard is executive producer and Cameron Doyle is coordinating producer.