Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson
MW: Please introduce yourself.
ZL: My name is Zack Larson and I work on the fishing vessel Cape Caution which also happens to be captained by my dad, Wild Bill, and is featured on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch.
MW: Did you know from an early age you wanted to be a crabber?
ZL: No, growing up I never thought about fishing as a career. Even into my early twenties, I still hadn’t given it a thought.
MW: What did you think when your dad said “come out with me crabbing”?
ZL: He didn’t give me much time to think about it. I believe I had to quit my job in 10 days to catch the flight to Alaska. I figured it gave me a chance to really know my dad and test myself as a man in a harsh and dangerous world.
MW: What do you remember about that first day?
ZL: That it seemed to never end. Crabbing isn’t a nine to five kind of job. Our workdays can last over 50 hours. And normally we work easily 20-hour days. I was already used to working 10- to 12-hour days at my previous job. But nothing can prepare you for working on a crab boat.
MW: Tell me about starting out as a greenhorn.
ZL: Starting out as a greenhorn was extremely difficult for me. I wasn’t used to getting yelled at and made fun of all the time. I had next to zero fishing background and I was also the captain’s son. Life wasn’t easy for me and it took getting used to. I was used to working with people that had degrees or went to technical college for training. There isn’t a school that trains you to be a crabber. The deckhands are your teachers, and sometimes the teachers get tired of you. I was lucky to have some great deckhands and my dad on board.
MW: How was it being on the F/V Kodiak with your dad Wild Bill?
ZL: When we are fishing I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my dad. He is in the wheelhouse and I’m running around on deck. The time that we get to spend together is priceless. Normally when we are going back to port or have long distances between our string of pots we can chat. Nothing crazy, normal father-son talk. About life, women, money and cars. It is something that I didn’t have growing up, and I think my dad also didn’t have these talks with his dad. The conversation may seem bland, but they mean a lot to both of us.
MW: Was there ever a time you said F–K this I am going home?
ZL: About every fishing trip. The long hours and sometimes terrible fishing eats away at you. When fishing is great, you’re not thinking about being home and loved ones. When fishing is terrible, everything that is sore starts to bother you, everything anybody says annoys the hell out of you, and you start to question your career choice.
MW: Do you think it would have been easier for you to work for another captain in the fleet?
ZL: Sometimes I do think that, but I know I still can learn a lot from my dad. My next move is down into the engine room and that is where my dad is an expert. I believe my dad has a few more years left in him, and I need to take every opportunity I can to learn from him. Then I will be able to work for another captain and not look like a jackass.
MW: How has it been since your dad Wild Bill is now captain on the F/V Cape Caution?
ZL: The Cape Caution is a really great boat. It hasn’t fished crab in a long time and we have been getting her back into shape. The best part of that boat is the owner. He wants to see that boat be profitable and is investing a lot of money back into the boat. My dad is the perfect guy for that boat. He can see a problem and know how to fix it or get the right people down to the boat to fix it.
MW: Do you want to be a captain like your father Wild Bill one day?
ZL: I think that should be every deckhand’s vision for himself. I want to run a boat. Am I close to being ready? Hell NO! I have so much to learn and hopefully when the time is ready, I can step up and deliver.
MW: What can we expect this season from you?
ZL: Well I can’t reveal a whole lot, but I would say I continue my rise up the deck and possibly a little tension between my dad and myself at some point.
MW: What do you on your time off?
ZL: I’m like most men, with a cold beer and friends. I am normally in Mexico in the same town as my dad. We golf together on Mondays and enjoy the sunny weather. Not a lot of sun going on in Alaska.
MW: What would you like to say in closing?
ZL: Thank you for your interest in fishing and in Discovery’s Deadliest Catch. If people want to ask me questions, I’m usually good at answering them on Twitter. You can find me @ZackLarson. Thanks again.