I’ve watched the television series “Deadliest Catch” for several seasons and more or less secretly wished I could go with them at least long enough to bring home a freezer load or two of Alaskan king crab.
The event was to last from 4 until 6 p.m. I got there at around 3:30 p.m. and found myself at the end of a queue of about 100 fans. At the end of my wait, the line snaked all around the Silver Legacy, appearing to be endless as I was leaving at 7 p.m.
As I did my part holding up the railing that circles the mezzanine gallery until it was my time to meet the two sailors, I noticed that the majority of the people in line were women. I thought crab fishing was a guy thing. I asked some of the women why they were there and they told me they thought the crew members were hot.
I’ve watched many episodes of the “Deadliest Catch” series and when it comes to the guys, all I see are tired, sweaty, cold, hard-working, ill-mannered men desperately in need of a scalding bath or two or maybe even three. Hot? I don’t think so.
As the captain, Keith made a foray around the assembled throng, you could hear the women swoon as they realized he was moving rapidly through their midst.
The women all had their cameras at the ready when it was their turn to get a quick hug and squeeze from the two Wizard men. The crewmen anxiously obliged the ladies with all the hugs and squeezes a 30-second encounter can muster.
Young boys were blessed with a lay-down arm wrestling match with Captain Keith as well. The crowd loved it. The two rookie fishermen turned celebrities were a real crowd pleaser in their first public appearance of this kind since they started filming their exploits in the winter Bering Sea.
Amongst all the cameras flashing I did manage to gain some information on crab fishing I hadn’t learned from the series. There are two crab seasons: the apelio crab (snow crab) season and the Alaskan king crab season. The 1,100-pound crab pots are lowered to about 300 feet for the king crab and more than 1,000 for the apelio crab.
The reason they fish in the depths of winter is that at this time of year, late summer and early fall, the crabs are mating and molting. Once the molting is done, their shell is almost devoid of meat. From molting until the fishing season, the meat fills in the exoskeleton.
I asked if the Japanese or Russians are their competitors and they said no. The Canadians are more competition than anyone else. I also was able to ask if the crab are diminishing in population or not and the Wizard men told me that when they first started fishing they were taking 50 percent male crabs and now they take in around 16 percent male crabs and still haul in more than a quarter million pounds of crabs each season. The Alaskan Fish and Game Department regulates the season and their catch in an effort to ensure the populations stay viable.
Don’t worry, ladies; the crewmen’s mother was in attendance, proudly wearing her Wizard t-shirt, I might add. She was keeping a close watch on her boys. From a safe distance, of course.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.