Original air date: June 2, 2009
The beginning of the 2009 opilio season is greeted by an ice storm in Dutch Harbor. On the way to the fuel dock, the Wizard loses power and drifts east of Hog Island. She regains power before drifting into the rocks of Hog Island and heads back to her dock to diagnose the problem with her fuel system. Captain Phil Harris returns to the helm of the Cornelia Marie after an 11 month break from fishing due to this blood clot from last season. The ice storm has delayed Captain Sig Hansen’s, of the Northwestern, arrival at Dutch Harbor for two days. Before the start of the king crab season, Deckhand Jake Anderson of the Northwestern pulled a prank on Captain Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit by stealing Captain Johnathan’s signature U.S.A jacket. The Hillstrand brothers seek revenge upon Jake at the start of the opilio season. Jake decides to spare the crew of the Northwestern from possible retaliation by going on board the Time Bandit to return the jacket. However, the Hillstrand brothers still decide to punish Jake by taping him to the Time Bandit’s crane and dipping him waist-deep into the sea. The weather clears enough for Captain Sig to fly into Dutch Harbor on the day that the opilio season starts. Captain Sig and Captain Andy Hillstrand visit Captain Phil on the Cornelia Marie to discuss the ice situation on the fishing grounds. Captain Phil hires mechanic Jeff Whited to check over the Cornelia Marie. He finds a leak in the fuel tank that needs immediate repair in a drydock. While drydocked, a problem with the propeller is discovered. Steve Ward replaces Murray Gamrath as engineer after Murray decides to retire from fishing. Steve finds a water leak in the hydraulic system that needs repair. The three repairs total up to a $100,000 bill. With the impending ice storm, the captains of the Northwestern and Time Bandit decide to offload some pots to make for a safer boat and then head off to the fishing grounds. The Wizard’s loss of power is traced back to a leak in the fuel tank. The tank is drained and ventilated to allow Monte Colburn to weld the leak as a temporary fix to get the boat through the opilio season. Instead of taking off pots like the Northwestern and Time Bandit, Captain Keith Colburn decides to take a full load of 235 pots and rig up a tarp across the front of the stack to prevent freezing spray from building up on the stack. The Time Bandit arrives at the same fishing spot in the northern area of the fishing grounds as last season and drops her first strings. Captain Andy has four days until his delivery date to fill the boat and wants to launch his pots as fast as possible. The Hillstrands hire on new Deckhand Jon Jorgenson even though they still need to cut one crew member at the end of the season. The extra hire means that six crew members are competing for five spots. The Northwestern drops her pots further north than the Time Bandit. Deckhand Jake Anderson does the traditional biting off of the head of a herring to start the season. Captain Sig drops three 40-pot strings just 70 miles (110 km) south of the ice and hopes that the ice does not cover his pots before he can retrieve them. Captain Keith of the Wizard decides that 235 pots is too many and departs Dutch Harbor with 225 pots. After three days in drydock, the repairs on the Cornelia Marie are complete and she heads off, but not before Captain Phil decides to give his son Josh a full share. Brothers Jake and Josh Harris argue while they load the pots onto the deck. After a nine-hour soak, the Time Bandit’s first string pulls up low numbers, which forces Captain Andy to scramble for a new plan before the ice arrives at the fishing grounds in two days. The Cornelia Marie arrives at the fishing grounds with Captain Phil planning to fish near the ice pack. In 50-knot (93 km/h; 58 mph) winds and 30-foot (9.1 m) seas, the crew of the Wizard works on the bow of the ship to lash down the tarp. Captain Keith calls for an abort of the work, but the crew does not hear him and the boat takes a big wave which engulfs the crew.