Deadliest Catch, The Bait, and an opportunity worthy of a ‘Bucket List’

Deadliest Catch, The Bait, and an opportunity worthy of a ‘Bucket List’

My Deadliest Catch episode airs tonight.

FORT WORTH, Texas, July 28, 2015 — Did you ever cross something off your bucket list that wasn’t on it until AFTER an experience? I did.

My friend and “Deadliest Catch” superfan Helen Ruckman contacted me to ask if I still considered myself a fan. Once active on the various DC pages and chat rooms, I haven’t been a real part of all that in a long time. In fact, last year I dropped my satellite to almost nothing. Because of that I haven’t seen any new episodes of “Deadliest Catch” in over a year. Season 10 of the series is a complete mystery to me. But yes, I still consider myself a fan.

How could I not? The crab fishing industry is fascinating in itself; but when you add several boats full of engaging characters, situations most of us will never experience in an area of the globe known for dramatic weather, it makes for great TV. As fans we feel as if we know these guys through the show. Some have gone on to become friends with them. Helen and our friend Becky Lichenstein have and went to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to record a segment of “The Bait,” a pre-game show to “Deadliest Catch.” In it the captains and other crew members sit in a faux living room and talk about the highlights of the past season. There is a question and answer segment.

Various celebrities, including singer/actor Meat Loaf and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are among those who have appeared on that portion of the show.

Silent Crow Arts resized
Courtesy of Silent Crow Arts.

This year Silent Crow Arts co-executive producer Mark Fortgang was looking for fans of the show for this segment and asked Helen for suggestions. She gave him my name. Was I interested in doing a Skype interview with producers of “The Bait”? Heck yeah!

Helen gave me Mark’s contact information, and I sent him an email. His reply came first thing in the morning saying that he would interview people on Jan. 15 and 16. Was I available between 2 and 6 p.m. eastern? It would take about 15 minutes.

Why YES. Of course I am available on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 15 and 16 between 2 and 6 p.m. eastern!

Actually Thursday was not good for me but Friday was. Our Skype session was set for 2:30 p.m. But he asked me to consider before the interview: “Of all your years watching the show, what is one of your favorite moments?”

Hmmm……that’s a toughie. There are so MANY favorite moments. And did I have any specific questions to ask of a captain or all of them? Yikes! Were there any relevant unasked questions left after 10 years? I honestly don’t care if they wear boxers or briefs. My mind went into a zillion directions.

After a conversation about it with my boss Megan the next day, somehow my medical background came up. I used to work in the OR as a certified surgical technologist. The scenes where the captains have to administer medical aid in the middle of the Bering Sea, hours and days away from the nearest clinic, let alone hospital, intrigues me.

So I came up with, “I don’t have a favorite moment per se but am fascinated by how they deal with medical situations in the middle of nowhere.”

And from that, “What was the worst medical issue you ever had to deal with?”

Helen also suggested, “This question is for Johnathan and Sig. You two were close to Phil. Sig has shared and laughed that Phil had a cleaning lady for his trailer when all it would have taken to do the job was a handy wipe. And Johnathan told that once he and Phil were supposed to go out do something but Phil wouldn’t get out of his chair to go. The meerkats on TV were just too cute. Do you have any other stories that will make us smile?”

I was almost ready.

Vanity isn’t my forte’, but since this was international television everything on my end had to be perfect. I confess I set up Skype so I could see how I looked on camera. My hair and makeup were immaculate. I changed clothes and the lighting in my kitchen several times and made sure my living room in the background was spotless. I wrote the questions on the “notes” section of my iPhone and propped it up so I was still looking at the laptop camera that would send images to New York City as I read them. All I had to do now was wait.

Mark Fortgang
Courtesy of Mark Fortgang

The Skype alert sounded that Mark was calling. He introduced himself and co-executive producer Sean McCourt and story producer Deborah Barak. We dove right in. I don’t remember in what order the questions came, but it was fun to look into the camera and say, “Hi! I’m Claire Hickey from Fort Worth, Texas. I’m a Stay@Home mom and writer…”

When I told about my fascination with on-board medicine, Mark and Sean came up with additional questions for me to ask. One of them was,

“What was the grossest injury you ever had to deal with while fishing?”

And then Sean added, “Look into the camera and say ‘Ewwwww! That’s really gross!’” So I did.

The whole thing lasted not quite 15 minutes. I felt comfortable right away with Mark, Sean and Deborah. They made it easy and it was a lot of fun. We laughed a lot throughout the interview. Before we signed off, Mark said he would contact me when the Discovery Channel gives him the air dates, which would be in a couple of months.

Right after the connection was broken; Mark sent an appearance release form via email and said I did great. I thanked him and told him that I was going to write about my experience in my column. And here it is. Thanks, Helen!

Update July 28, 2015: Producer Mark Fortgang contacted me twice more and asked if I would ask more questions since this first time back in January. However, in spite of all those recordings I doubt all of them will air. But, as with the first time, the experience was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 


Read more of Claire’s work at Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul in the Communities Digital News and Greater Fort Worth Writers.

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