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Deadliest Catch exclusive: Sig Hansen and Jake Anderson on health battles, following your heart and Steve ‘Harley’ Davidson

Sig talks about Mandy taking the reins and how Jake factors in his work life too. Pic credit: Discovery
Sig talks about Mandy taking the reins and how Jake factors in his work life too. Pic credit: Discovery

Deadliest Catch Season 15 begins tonight on Discovery. The twist this season? According to captains Sig Hansen and Jake Anderson, the unpredictable weather.

If you ask Captain Keith Colburn, and according to previews of the season, it’s new hotdogger captain Steve “Harley” Davidson and his 148-foot-long ship the Southern Wind that is grinding his gears.

But Sig and Jake are totally cool with this newcomer.

Outside of Jake’s Saga and Sig’s Northwestern, the series features also features Sean Dwyer of the Brenna A, “Wild Bill” Wichrowski of the Summer Bay, Josh Harris and Casey McManus of the Cornelia Marie, newcomer Davidson of the Southern Wind and his alleged veteran nemesis Colburn of The Wizard.

Monsters & Critics spoke to Sig and Jake today ahead of tonight’s premiere, and the two shared their thoughts on the new season and their life pulling in edible gold from the Bering Sea.

We also have an exclusive clip below the interview where Sig Hansen and his daughter Mandy are testing out a pot to see how the king crabs are stacking up, and by the looks of it the Hansens will have a lucrative and hopefully healthy season.

Monsters and Critics: We are excited to see that you’re bringing daughter Mandy into the fold. I wanted to ask you specifically, what was it in her that made you realize she could handle the Northwestern?

Sig Hansen: Well, I don’t know if they promote it or not, but I had another health issue, another heart issue, and then, it really wasn’t the intent for her to come up. You know the show, nothing’s pre-planned. So, it was kind of…when I…I didn’t know if I was even going to make it, so she kind of took it upon herself to kind of help the family business.

So she was supposed to be in school, and then I’ve got my son-in-law on there as well. So Mandy wanted to come up there and make sure that everything was okay.

Now, that being said, when she was going to run the boat, that’s on her. She bucked up and really helped out.

M&C: The industry that you’re in, you know, crabbing, there’s not a whole lot of women running boats. There’s not a lot of women on deck. So, have you kind of prepared her, or does she know how to handle any kind of push back from anybody in your industry that, you know, is a little iffy about women in general in the business?

Sig Hansen: Well, she’s been on that boat since the age of twelve, thirteen, as well, every summer for our salmon tendering charters. And so, that’s what she’s always wanted.

Whether you’re driven as a man or a woman, as long as you have it in your heart, you’re going to be fine. She’s taken some flak over the years, but at the same time she’s got a thick skin, and wants to be like Daddy. What’s wrong with that?

M&C: Nothing. Nothing at all. I love that you think that way. You and Jake both, you guys have been doing what you do since you were teenagers. Like, you’ve mentioned, you’ve had health issues. Life is short. What’s your Plan B, or your escape from crabbing plan with June [Sig’s wife]?

Sig Hansen: Well, I mean, we have options. In all honesty…it is a family business, but that being said, we’ve built the value, and so there’s an option that you could sell the business itself, the boat. You could sell the quota that belongs to our family, now that we have these IFQs, they call it.

Because we do own a part of a federal resource, so that’s a pretty secure way to have a fishery. We can lease our quotas. So, maybe I lease it to other vessels and tie the Northwestern up and just do salmon and something else.

There’s options. Or, we just let her run its course, and maybe Mandy and Clark [Pederson], or somebody else like Jake [Anderson] would take over, and I would be okay with that.

But when you’re running a boat, you’re also adding a lot of overhead and risk. And so, all those things have been weighing on my mind for a few years here.

But for now, I kind of like to just live in the now, and maybe a little denial [laughs], and just keep doing what I’m doing.

M&C: When I was on the Northwestern years ago, you showed me your stash of Winstons and your Costco chocolate, and stuff. Now, have you quit smoking?

Sig Hansen: Yes, I quit October 4th, 2:00 PM. I’m so proud of myself. That was right after the last health incident, and I’m so proud I did it for six months, and then about three, four days ago, Daddy fell off the wagon. And I feel like s**t right after doing it. I have the Nicoderm patches.

Matter of fact, I just gave Jake [Anderson] one, and so, I fully intend to, once we’re done with this New York thing [press junket], and we can simmer down a little, I, that’s it. I got to stop.

M&C: Realistically, how long do you think that you will be on a boat?

Sig Hansen: Well, I mean honestly, I’d like to, well, now we have two different lives. Well, we have three. We have our family life, we have our Discovery family, and then we have our vessel, which is our family job. And so, they all work together.

If they’re filming, I’d like to participate still, because I feel like now it’s done so much good for the industry, and for our family as a whole. So that’s good, but, if they’re going to film, I’d like to be there.

And then, a few more years. I mean, I’m 53, and…this month, and so I feel like I got a few more years.

But I get asked that question every damn day, so I don’t know. I don’t know what image has been built for me, as far as, I think that everybody thinks that you’ve done well in life, and you’re loaded, so why don’t you just leave?

And that’s the mentality, but the reality is, what are you going to do when you’re not working? Right?

Here I quit smoking, I gained 30 pounds, I feel like I’m having a baby. What am I going to do if I quit working? Then what? You want me to be completely suicidal?

M&C: Someone needs to put an elliptical trainer in the captain’s cabin for you. To keep you occupied, anyway.

Sig Hansen: Yeah!

M&C: Jake Anderson to me is like the son you never had. Is that a true or a false statement?

Sig Hansen: He’s like a son — well, aren’t all sons a pain in the ass?

M&C: Well, you would know.

Sig Hansen: [Laughs] I’m kidding. Yeah, he’s a protege, he’s really become part of our family, and what we always appreciated about him was his enthusiasm.

He poured his heart and soul into the Northwestern when he was there. And that’s the kind of thing that you just can’t buy. And I know that, because, been there, done that. So that’s why we appreciate him.

When he moved on, it was very distressing for me, and I couldn’t tell him what to do. If I could have sabotaged his career, I would have. But I didn’t. And I could have.

M&C: You’re a good combination, chemistry wise, you play well off each other.

Sig Hansen: He [Jake] was so much fun.

M&C: All the trailers and new promos for the season show that this newcomer, Steve “Harley” Davidson of the Southern Wind, he’s coming to upset the cast’s apple cart, so to speak. And then they’re saying that Keith Colburn is having the most issues with him. Are you having a go with this Harley Davidson? Is he bothering you at all?

Jake Anderson has lost loved ones during the course of the series, and gained two sons, he is invaluable to Sig. Pic credit: Discovery
Jake Anderson has lost loved ones during the course of the series, and gained two sons. Pic credit: Discovery

Jake Anderson: Steve [Harley Davidson] doesn’t bother me, and Sig and Steve are very good friends. And I know Steve from Sig…we don’t have any problems with Steve, but there are two other cast members we know that have problems with him.

One is obviously Keith Colburn, and the other is Casey McManus on the Cornelia Marie, but he’s probably pretty silent about that.

I don’t know if you’ll see any of that kind of controversy, but there is tension there between those two boats, but as far as the Northwestern, Saga and Southern Winds go, there’s no issue.

Sig Hansen: Yeah, depends on egos…

Jake Anderson: Yeah, yeah, Sig said it right, yes. It depends on how big egos get.

M&C: Excluding Sig, the other captains in the cast, who are you closest to?

Jake Anderson: Sean Dwyer. There’s only two…I talk to him pretty much every day. On and off the crab grounds.

M&C: You said in a past interview a really interesting statement…’anyone on a crab boat wants off, and anyone off a crab boat wants on.’ You still feel that way?

Jake Anderson: Yes, I’ve always felt that way. Whenever I go fishing, I want to go home, and as soon as I go home, I don’t know what to do with myself, and I want to go fishing.

And I think it’s just something that’s in your blood. You just can’t stop doing it. I know you asked Sig that question, when he’s going to retire, and everybody asks him that question, but, you kinda always want to go home, but when you go home, it’s almost like you’re compelled to be at sea. You have no choice. Yeah, I feel that way strongly.

M&C: I think fans that are vested in this series from the get go are worried about Sig’s health more than about him retiring. So being 53 is young. But when you’ve had two heart issues, people worry. We lived through losing Phil Harris, he was beloved. Sig is a beloved character in the series. Jake, do you kind of mind Sig a little bit, or do you just leave him alone?

Jake Anderson: Yes, I don’t really touch that subject with Sig too much. I tell him that I care, but I only need to tell him once. But that’s just the nature of the beast in this game. Like with Phil Harris, we were just talking earlier, I have huge photos of my great-grandpa and my grandpa right as he died of a heart attack.

There’s so many stories of fishermen that, with their livelihood, it’s what we love doing, it’s who we are, and, a lot of us probably will die out at sea, whether by natural causes or by other circumstances. I just think it’s the nature of the beast.

M&C: What’s your hope for your two sons?

Jake Anderson: I’ve always…I got to where I am climbing the ladder, just doing what I loved. I’ve never been overly concerned for money, I just always followed my heart, and that’s what I hope for them.

I know their mom doesn’t want them anywhere near the boat. She absolutely wants them to have nothing to do with it. It’s too hard on the mothers and wives and…and all the others, but yes, I just hope they follow their heart, because that’s how I got where I’m at. I love doing what I’m doing as much as I hate it.

M&C: That’s an interesting statement. What’s going to make this season of Deadliest Catch the one to tune in for? What can you tease the fans without giving too many spoilers? How would you sell this season of Deadliest Catch?

Sig Hansen: Well, I think the one thing about Deadliest Catch is you never know what to expect. Because we don’t. It’s more of a documentary than anything.

And so the weather is always going to be the big factor, I think, because that’s the one thing we can’t control. And so…the fishing has been really strange this year…and you’ve got all these issues of global warming, and all these suspicions about what’s going on in the world.

But we’ve noticed quite a big change in the crab stocks and how they behave and where they go, and so we had to really think and fish outside the box.

There was still a lot of life out there, but it was a completely different scenario than we’re used to. So I think the fans, well they can expect to see some different fishing strategies this go around.

Deadliest Catch Season 15: Exclusive sneak peek

Deadliest Catch Season 15 premieres Tuesday, April 9 at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery.


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