F/V Summer Bay Captain “Wild” Bill Wichrowski is put to the test tonight on Deadliest Catch when he is already far out into the Bering Sea and then learns from his greenhorn-turned-deckhand Ronnie James that there’s no bait for the crab pots.
Imagine you have invested the money in fuel, scheduling crew and paying out salaries, and include with that your own precious time which is quite limited in crab season and then find out that you might have to double back to get something as simple as bait, a necessity on a fishing vessel. Your head would explode, as we see Wild Bill nearly does so!
Looking sheepish, with egg on his face, Ronnie James comes to Bill’s captain’s room and delivers the bad news.
James says: “So uh, when we were in town, we forgot to grab uhhhh….bait setups…we are short some bait jars.”
Will Bill looks at him like crabs are coming out of his ears. ‘What!?”
Mike Rowe narrates the obvious. “Deckhand Ronnie James’ job is to keep the Summer Bay stocked with bait and bait jars. Essential, if you want to bait a wide area.”
Wild Bill looks at James and you can see that he is completely aggravated and practically speechless: “I mean I can’t change it. It’s f****** stupidity. It’s absolute stupidity. You will fill what we got.”
Already slowed by a lack of bait setups, Ronnie’s gaffe has the entire crew grousing at him about this hamstringing of their fishing efforts.
With the little bit of bait on board, Bill and the crew will make it do and use what they have, as Ronnie is doing his best to disappear and skulking a bit from the camera’s gaze as Bill calls an audible with the crew.
He puts a positive spin on it. “I wanted to heavy bait the pots…[huge sigh]. You have a plan and it changes, that’s the way this sh** goes. Change this around a little bit, think I’m gonna consolidate this thing, This stuff is going to be on the edge west of the Pinnacles…fished here before [and] had great fishing here before…”
Rowe says that Bill will focus on this historically crab-rich part of the Bering Sea and he will use what he has on hand and hope for the best. Despite the lack of bait, the deckhands start dropping crab pots as Bill’s resigned air is all about him, as James’ mistake rolls off this seasoned Captain’s back, for now.
It’s not the first time Ronnie James has screwed up.
Back when Zack Larson, Wild Bill’s son, offered Ronnie the Summer Bay greenhorn spot that seemed to always have a nitwit who knew nothing about crabbing in the position. With the addition James, it felt like a corner had been turned. Not so fast.
As time went, Ronnie did well and met Wild Bill’s immediate expectations, but his memorable mistake was neglecting to chunk the buoys far away from the Summer Bay, and as a result they all entangled in the props which meant the boat had to head back to Dutch Harbor and Wild Bill had to shell out some big money for boat repairs.
Watch tonight as Bill either forgives and forgets or has a serious career-altering chat with James.
Deadliest Catch airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Discovery.