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Why Deadliest Catch’s Johnathan Hillstrand didn’t actually retire

Johnathan Hillstrand, Time Bandit co-captain and Deadliest Catch star, up until his retirement at the end of season 13. (Photo by Discovery)

At the end of Deadliest Catch season 13, Time Bandit captain Johnathan Hillstrand retired after 37 years of crab fishing. His boat isn’t one of those that will be featured on season 14—a remarkable change since the boat and its crew have been filmed for the show since its second season.

But Johnathan Hillstrand has been actively crab fishing this season, captaining the Time Bandit for the opilio crab season.

So what’s the reason for the discrepancy? Did the show make up his retirement as a storyline? Or did he come out of retirement?

Johnathan did plan to retire from fishing king and opilio crabs, but not from crab fishing entirely; instead, he was going to switch to a different fishery. But those plans fell through.

Sheryl, the person who runs Johnathan’s social media and periodically answers fans’ questions, posted this question and answer on Facebook:

3. Johnathan says he is retiring. Is he really, or is he just teasing us? Did Capt Johnthan totally retire, or is he going to go on occasional trips, just so he won’t have “fishing withdrawal”? Are you fishing another fishery, Johnathan?

Plans were made for Capt Johnathan “retire” from King Crab and Opilio Crab fishing, to start a brand new crab fishery this year. Unfortunately, paperwork and permits did not come through, so Capt Johnathan is back fishing Kings and Opilio crab this year.”

Why the boat isn’t on season 14 isn’t as clear; Sheryl previously posted, “I will not discuss anything to do with Deadliest Catch in Season 14. Time Bandit isn’t on the show, that’s all I am willing to say.”

The  show has dropped a popular boat before, and that wasn’t for a captain who’d effectively had a storyline wrapped up and concluded, as Johnathan did last season.

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