Deadliest Catch‘s Capt. Phil Harris died on Feb. 9 – but his gruff-yet-lovable legacy will live on when the show’s sixth season begins airing in April.
Harris, who died of stroke complications at 53, will appear in all of Catch‘s king crab fishing episodes, which will comprise the season’s first half, according to Discovery.
Before his stroke on Jan. 29, Harris had been in the the midst of fishing for opilio crab and shooting season 6’s second half. When those opilio crab-fishing episodes air, “Phil will be pretty well represented through that as well,” says executive producer Thom Beers. “You’ll see the loss through the eyes of the other captains, who knew he was a man of substance.”
Fishing on the Cornelia Marie will go on. As Harris was being medivacked to a hospital in Anchorage, family friend Derek Ray flew in to St. Paul Island to be the boat’s relief skipper.
“This is the first time in six years that I’ve been [home] while the boat has been out fishing,” says Harris’s son Jake, 24. “I’ve always been on it, so it’s definitely very weird. I feel sorry for those guys, who are going through a hard time and fishing at a time like this.”
INSIDE STORY: The Brave Last Days of Deadliest Catch‘s Capt. Phil Harris
Future in Flux
While the fishing continues, Deadliest Catch‘s future remains up in the air.
“The big decision now is, what will we do going forward?” says executive producer Beers. “But we will take some time now to mourn. Phil will definitely be missed. All the other captains, he was the voice of sanity and that is going to be missed.”
For now, Discovery will air a special all-day Deadliest Catch marathon on Saturday, beginning at 12 pm EST. Additional plans to honor Phil’s life are still in the works, likely in the form of some kind of Deadliest Catch tribute episode and perhaps a memorial during the second annual fan festival known as Catch-Con, which will happen this spring in Seattle.
“The show was so public and he always loved the fans,” says Phil’s other son Josh Harris, 26. “The same week, it’s Fisherman’s Memorial Week, honoring all the fallen fishermen that year, and there’s a big Harley ride around that time, too.”