‘Deadliest Catch’ is an American reality television series that documents fishermen’s daily lives onboard several crab fishing vessels in the Bering Sea. Created by Original Productions – also known for creating ‘Ice Road Truckers’ and ‘America’s Toughest Jobs’ – ‘Deadliest Catch’ premiered on Discovery Channel in April 2005.
From their base of operations in the Aleutian Islands’ port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the fishing vessels’ crews scour the Bering Sea in search of King and Snow crabs. With cameras documenting their every struggle on board the fishing vessels, the captains and their crew overcome the dangers of the Bering Sea, hauling in one of Alaska’s most prized commodities.
True to the series’ name, crab fishing is considered one of the most dangerous occupations globally, even more hazardous than logging. Crab fishing usually takes place during specific seasons dictated by the conditions of the Bering Sea.
Unfortunately, the seasonal changes often make it difficult for the fishing vessels, forcing them to face the coldest weather and harshest storms the unfriendly waters can create. Things become especially dangerous so far out at sea, since the nearest port and aid during an emergency can be over hundred miles or 150kms away.
Other dangers include the operation of heavy equipment, long hours of arduous labour, and the unpredictable nature of the Bering Sea. Regardless of all the difficulties, the crews and vessels featured on ‘Deadliest Catch’ brave the dangerous waters to provide their audience with exciting entertainment, actually during their normal operations.
Of course, their perilous efforts never go unrewarded, as ‘Deadliest Catch’ not only became one of the most-watched shows on Discovery Channel, but also won numerous accolades.
The show’s popular reception saw it through more than fifteen years of filming, with the latest seventeenth season to air in April 2021. The show also inspired the creation of a video game version of ‘Deadliest Catch’, allowing the landlubbers at home to experience the dangers and excitement of the Bering Sea in the comfort of their homes.
Through the many years that ‘Deadliest Catch’ has graced our screens, many faces have come and gone, becoming the stars of the show. Some left the excitement of the show for various reasons, while others tragically gave their lives for the final catch.
Considering how dangerous crab fishing can be, and how stressful the work environment onboard the fishing vessels is, it should come as no surprise that viewers had to bid farewell to so many faces.
However, their dedicated fans and followers simply can’t help but wonder where they are now, and of course what they have been up to since leaving ‘Deadliest Catch’.
Captain Elliot Neese may not be the most missed cast member by the fans, but his fellow fishermen indeed lost a competent co-worker when he decided to leave the show. Born Elliot Nicodemus Neese in 1982, Elliot spent most of his life in the cold environment of Alaska.
Raised by a dedicated fishing family, Neese took up the family business from a young age, becoming an expert angler at the age of twelve. It certainly seemed that Elliot would have a promising career in the local fishing industry as he also proved highly competent in pot fishing, the most commonly used technique for catching Alaskan crabs.
Shortly after matriculating, Neese took up a job in the local fishing industry, quickly making a name for himself. Viewers were first introduced to Elliot during the seventh season when he began working for the owner of the Rambling Rose fishing vessel featured on ‘Deadliest Catch’.
He initially worked as the deck boss, but rapidly worked his way to becoming the ship’s engineer, then the first mate and eventually became the captain of the Rumbling Rose. His exceptional skill and relentless drive saw him become the youngest captain featured on ‘Deadliest Catch’; however, due to his strong beliefs and stubborn disposition, the show often portrayed him as a villainous character.
Neese would regularly argue with the ship’s owner, constantly getting into loud altercations. Unfortunately, during the eighth season, Elliot refused to go out at sea during a storm, which the ship’s owner, of course, didn’t like one bit. Their ensuing argument became the last straw for Elliot, who gave up captaining the Rambling Rose.
During the ninth season, Elliot returned as the captain of his own fishing vessel, The Saga.
Admired by fans and viewers for his ambition, skill, and above all else, his stubborn beliefs, Elliot’s return was celebrated by many who thought they might have seen the last of the young captain.
For the next couple of seasons, Elliot would captain The Saga until his abrupt departure at the end of the eleventh season.
Without giving any explanation or reason, Elliot passed the captaincy of his boat to his first mate, Jake Anderson. Since his departure from ‘Deadliest Catch’, numerous theories made it onto the internet as fans wonder what happened to him.
Unfortunately, Elliot developed a problem with drug addictions. Determined to regain control of his life, Neese booked into a rehab facility in Hawaii. During his absence, fans hoped that one day he might return to the show, and even one of the producers continued supporting him.
Sadly, during that time, his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his two children filed restraining orders against the young captain.
Among her claims, Valerie Gunderson stated that Elliot acted violently towards her in the past, and she feared he might do so again in the future. Elliot never returned to the show, not even after completing his rehab program, but the latest reports about his life suggest that Neese is back in Alaskan waters.
After he left ‘Deadliest Catch’, his previous investor who helped him secure The Saga, retained ownership of the fishing vessel, making it difficult for Neese to return to the show. However, it seems Elliot is the proud owner of a Cog vessel, and according to his social media accounts, he still enjoys recreational fishing.
Despite being portrayed as a villainous antagonist, his many admirers and fans miss Elliot Neese, keeping up their hopes of seeing him return to the show.
Bidding Goodbye To The Dwyers
One of the fan-favourite cast members, Sean Dwyer, who captained the Brenna A fishing vessel, sadly left the show at the end of the fifteenth season. It was perhaps one of the most upsetting changes made to ‘Deadliest Catch’ since the untimely passing of Captain Phil Harris, and many fans of the show have since spoken out about the dismay of the sad news.
Sean, and the remaining members of the Dwyer family first appeared on ‘Deadliest Catch’ shortly following Elliot Neese’s departure at the beginning of the twelfth season. However, they quickly became a fan-beloved part of the regular cast, stealing viewers’ affection with their larger-than-life family dynamics.
Praised for his kindness and the intelligent manner in which Sean captained the Brenna A fishing vessel, he replaced Elliot as the youngest captain in the ‘Deadliest Catch’ fleet.
For some, Sean was a welcome change, as he replaced Elliot as a far friendlier version, but no doubt remained about the efficiency with which he operated his fishing vessel.
Likewise, his fishing skills, knowledge, and experience provided him with a keen edge over the remaining competition, earning the respect of the audience, as well as the other captains. Taught by his father, Pat Dwyer, Sean took over the captaincy of his father’s boat, the Brenna A, after the old skipper contracted ALS disease.
Sadly, Pat succumbed to the disease in 2013, a year following the family’s appearance on ‘Deadliest Catch’. Despite the dismay the Dwyers’ departure caused among fans, it seemed that they left the show without any altercations or disputes.
In April, during the premiere of the sixteenth season, Jenny Dwryer, Sean’s mother, notified the family’s supporters that they left the show because Original Productions never renewed their contract.
Despite this, Jenny expressed how grateful their family was for the opportunity to appear on ‘Deadliest Catch’, adding that they had a lot of fun while it lasted.
Since their departure from the show, however, it seems the Brenna A and her crew continue to have an interest in the fishing business.
In 2020, during the early stages of the global pandemic, Sean posted social media support messages, informing his fans and followers about the precautionary changes made to fishing protocols during the struggle against COVID-19. He also mentioned that the Brenna A would be out fishing for wild salmon in Alaskan waters.
While both Elliot and the Dwyer family parted ways with ‘Deadliest Catch’ under lesser suspicions, a few darker cases can be brought to light. One such case is Jake Harris, the youngest son of the late fisherman Captain Phil Harris.
Jake currently serves time in prison following his arrest under serious allegations; in January of 2019, police arrested Jake for driving under the influence.
He has since pleaded guilty, but what was most shocking was the discovery police made while searching his vehicle. In his motorhome, police discovered large quantities of heroin, as well as paraphernalia associated with the distribution of the narcotic substance.
Additional charges brought against the former deckhand now include suspicions of being in possession of an illegal narcotic, with the intent to produce and/or distribute. Jake has since admitted that his father’s untimely passing sent him on a path of self-destruction, as he spiralled out of control.
Jake initially became addicted to opiates such as heroin, after suffering a skating injury in high school, and has ever since struggled with the addiction. His situation became public after confessing his problem to Phil during an episode of ‘Deadliest Catch’. Sadly, since his father passed away, Jake’s problems only became worse. Despite Jake’s sentencing, his older brother, Josh, continues to support him, hoping that he can turn his life around.
On a darker note, Captain Sig Hansen’s younger brother, Edgar Hansen, who also featured regularly on ‘Deadliest Catch’, disappeared from the show and social media in 2018.
Unfortunately, the world and the viewers of ‘Deadliest Catch’ would be in for quite a shock, as in July that year, Edgar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a teenage girl. After accepting a plea deal under the advice of his lawyers, the court sentenced Edgar to two years of probation, forced him to pay several fines, and register as a sex offender.
Since the case against him came to light, both Original Productions and Discovery Channel completely cut ties with him. In all likely hood, Edgar would never return to show, and since his sentencing, has removed himself from social media.
Suspects On Camera
Aside from the two above mentioned darker cases, ‘Deadliest Catch’ also played host to other criminals. Unfortunately for them, that is, the exposure they gained on the series ultimately led to their arrest.
Do you think the young captains Jake, Sean and Casey will keep up with the veterans this season? Drop your questions in the comments and look out for answers on The Bait, April 10 @ 8/7c.
The first suspect on the list was Jerod Sechrist, who some viewers might remember despite his short-lived time on the show. Sechrist claimed that he was an experienced angler and crab fisher, but his lies were eventually exposed. Despite his claims, Jerod could not tell the difference between male and female crabs.
To prevent overfishing, crab fishing vessels are prohibited from catching female crabs, and need to throw them back iton the sea. However, this was not Jerod’s undoing. Sometime shortly after his first appearance on ‘Deadliest Catch’, police pulled Jerod over for reckless driving, and upon searching him and his vehicle, police discovered illegal narcotics.
Subsequently, the court charged Jerod under suspicion of distribution, and he wound up doing time. Since then, Jerod hasn’t returned for another season of crab fishing.
The second suspect, Joshua Tel Warner, landed behind bars after police recognised him from his newfound fame on ‘Deadliest Catch’. In 2007 and 2009, Joshua performed a series of bank robberies in Oregon, fleeing to Alaska to escape potential conviction.
Unfortunately, a friend invited him onto the show to work on one of the fishing vessels, which became his undoing. In 2010, police arrested Joshua on two counts of armed robbery, and according to most reports, he is still serving out his time behind bars.
Throughout the many years that ‘Deadliest Catch’ entertained its viewers, many faces have come and gone. This list doesn’t contain all of them, but mentions the most prominent cases, and perhaps the people viewers would miss the most.
The list also excluded every sailor and fisherman who gave their lives for the job. Their memory lives on forever in all the fond memories their loved ones and followers have of them and their appearance on ‘Deadliest Catch’.