What happened to Andy Hillstrand in “Deadliest Catch”?

April 18, 2024
9 mins read

It’s not easy to keep a loyal audience for over a decade, but somehow “Deadliest Catch” accomplished it. From its premiere in 2005, the show caught the attention of people of all ages, who have been unable to take their eyes away from all the drama and dangerous situations that these fishermen face on a daily basis.

That being, it’s not only the sometimes-unfortunate events which make “Deadliest Catch” an engaging show. It all comes down to its unforgettable cast and their heartfelt stories, to make “Deadliest Catch” truly memorable.

That being said, it’s undeniable that a huge part of the audience misses seeing some fishermen in the show, such is the case of the Time Bandit’s co-Captain Andy Hillstrand, whose disappearance from the show in recent seasons had many of his fans worried.

So whatever happened to him? Is he still in crab fishing or is he working elsewhere? And what happened to the Time Bandit and his family’s business? Stay with us to discover it!


What Happened To Andy Hillstrand?

Any keen fan of “Deadliest Catch” knows Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand, long-time Captains and owners of the fishing vessel Time Bandit. Though the brothers announced their exit from the show back in the 13th season, in 2020 Johnathan surprisingly reappeared in it, but his brother was nowhere in sight as the season progressed.

Unbeknownst to many, Andy was actually meant to reappear in the show for the 17th season aired in 2021, but fell sick with COVID-19 when the show was filming. Not only this deterred him from making his long-awaited TV return, but also pushed his brother Johnathan to find another co-captain to cover Andy’s spot.

While Andy unfortunately didn’t appear in the whole season, in February 2022, he made an appearance in that year’s Annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum event to raise awareness about climate change. Though it’s uncertain if he’ll return for the upcoming “Deadliest Catch” seasons, it’s relieving to see he’s doing well nowadays.


Why Was Josh Harris On The Time Bandit?

While TV producers usually tweak a thing or two in a show to make it more interesting, these changes could sometimes be so drastic or unexpected that viewers can’t help but feel confused by them.

For those who haven’t been carefully watching “Deadliest Catch” in the last two seasons, it was incredibly shocking to see Josh Harris on board the Time Bandit. However, this unforeseen turn of events was to cover Andy Hillstrand while he was on sick leave, as the show filmed its 17th season in 2021.

Although having Josh aboard the Time Bandit might have seemed unexpected, given that he’s already Cornelia Marie’s Captain, this makes sense considering Josh and Johnathan’s long-lasting friendship. As it happens, in 2011 Josh worked under Johnathan’s guidance following his father Phil Harris’ death. The time spent on the Time Bandit not only taught Josh valuable lessons both in fishing and in life, but also grew into a strong camaraderie.


As Josh told TV Shows Ace in 2020, he sees Johnathan as ‘brother slash second dysfunctional father’, whom he respects greatly along with the Time Bandit’s crew: ‘they were my family, in a sense, that took me in. I love those guys’. Knowing this, it’s less surprising that Josh willingly took Andy’s Co-captain place, even if it was for a short while.

Why Did Andy Leave The Show?

While it’s still uncertain if Andy Hillstrand will reappear in “Deadliest Catch” following the Time Bandit’s return in the 17th season, the reason he left the show back in 2017 is still unclear for many people.

As it happens, in 2018 Andy and Johnathan announced their hiatus from the crab fishing business, due to the Time Bandit having no favorable conditions to keep roaming the waters of the Bering Sea for the show’s 14th season. The incident was incredibly unfortunate for Andy and Johnathan, who had dedicated half of their lives to their boat: ‘This is the first time in 38 years I’m going to miss a Bering Sea King crab season’, wrote Johnathan on Twitter.


Though a couple of weeks later Johnathan informed his fans that the Time Bandit had been repaired and left in the hands of Eddie Uwekoolani for a short while, the ship didn’t return to “Deadliest Catch” the next year. Instead, it was put up for sale for over $2 million, instantly putting an end to any hope their followers might have had of seeing them return to the show. That’s why no one really expected the Time Bandit to make its return to the series in 2021.

What Exactly Happened To The Time Bandit?

Unlike other ships featured in “Deadliest Catch”, the Time Bandit isn’t as old as you might think. It was actually built in 1991 following the design of John Hillstrand, who wanted an ideal crab boat to ensure his family’s future.

Built in Oregon by Giddings Boat Works, the Time Bandit offers its crew many comfortable facilities, such as a sauna and queen-size beds. At the same time, the Time Bandit’s 113 ft of length and 175,000 pounds capacity for crab, makes it a vessel fitting for the most difficult fishing seasons.


However, despite how good of a ship the Time Bandit is, nothing could have prepared the Hillstrands for the sudden and inexplicable main engine explosion it suffered in 2018. Although they didn’t know many details about it, the issue was enough to deter them from joining the 14th season of “Deadliest Catch”, and the fishing season altogether.

In 2019, the brothers put the ship on sale for $2,888,888 on the Dock Street Brokers site, though the price was lowered in the following months for reasons unknown, to ultimately taking it off the website in 2020.

Why Wasn’t The Time Bandit Sold?

Although it’s assumed the Hillstrands didn’t sell the Time Bandit after supposedly affording its repair on their own, other theories point out different reasons.

As it happens, Andy and Johnathan’s younger brother Neal has faced some difficult legal issues in recent years. Back in late 2018, he filed for divorce from his now-former wife Sugayle Marie Hillstrand, obtaining their formerly-shared $340,000 home along with several cars, as court documents state.

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Though Sugayle got a couple of cars they bought during their time together, it was determined she would also get monetary compensation from the Time Bandit’s sale, of which Neal owns one third.

Though the divorce agreement didn’t obligate the Hillstrands to sell their boat, many people have theorized it could have deterred the brothers from ultimately selling it.

Why Was Johnathan In The Saga?

Much to the joy of “Deadliest Catch” fans, Johnathan Hillstrand returned to the show in 2020 after three seasons away. Though his comeback was undeniably good news for the audience, people were flabbergasted to not find the Time Bandit nor his brother Andy on sight.

However, Johnathan’s presence is easily explained; as it happens, by the time he returned to the show in the 16th season, the Time Bandit was apparently still waiting repair, but his wish to return to fishing crab was stronger than that. That’s why Johnathan ended up joining the crew of the Saga, captained by Jake Anderson.

As Johnathan told Stuff in 2020, Discovery initially offered him a return to the show on board the Cape Caution, under the command of  Bill Wichrowski, which Johnathan absolutely refused: ‘No, you couldn’t give me enough money to go out with Wild Bill, so I went out with Jake Anderson’.

Although boarding the Saga was the right choice, Johnathan also admitted his time there was enduring given the gruesome weather conditions he faced there, which were apparently the worst he’d seen in decades: ‘Never done that before in a boat. Jake Anderson, I love him dearly, but oh my God, I was tested’.

Regardless of the difficulties, Johnathan’s return to “Deadliest Catch” was successful, to say the least.

Discovery Lawsuit

If you’re a recent fan of “Deadliest Catch”, then you probably don’t know that Andy, Johnathan and Sig Hansen once had their own monster hunting TV show.


Premiered in 2011, the special episode “Hillstranded” featured these captains as they navigated the Alaskan seas looking for the most famous and feared monsters which supposedly live under there.

However, no matter how exciting the show’s concept might sound, it’s one of those projects which brings back mostly bad memories to everyone involved with it. The show’s first part was filmed in June 2010, but the second part was apparently impossible to film in August, due to the brother’s choice, or at least that’s what Discovery claimed in the $3 million lawsuit they filed in October that year for breach in contract, as the Hollywood Reporter advised.

According to Discovery, the Hillstrand’s inability to fulfill their responsibilities with “Hillstranded” resulted in millions in losses. That being said, the lack of further information regarding the lawsuit, as well as the eventual release of the show the following year, point to the case was most-likely being resolved out-of-court.


What Did The Hillstrands Have To Say?

Although nowadays this lawsuit is water under the bridge, back in 2010 the issue was scandalous, given the connection between the Hillstrands and Discovery at the time.

As Andy explained to Entertainment Weekly, the miscommunication with Discovery was the cause of their legal issues, as he, Jonathan and Sig Hansen had initially thought Discovery had completely filmed the show in June 2010, but were surprised to be called again a couple of months later for more filming: ‘our schedule was pretty much screwed. It got to the point in our relationship where something had to change, and we just said enough’s enough’.

Despite their apparent boldness regarding the issue, it was evident that the Hillstrands and Captain Hansen were troubled by the situation. Not only were they warned to speak about it with their fellow “Deadliest Catch” co-stars, but were worried about how it would affect everyone involved: ‘Emotionally, it was hell. We didn’t want to be sued. We didn’t want all the fans hating Discovery’, as Johnathan affirmed.

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At some point, the Captain’s spot in “Deadliest Catch” was threatened by the legal battle they were fighting off-screen, but after sorting things out, they were eventually signed to appear in the show’s future seasons.

What Other Businesses Do They Have?

Unbeknownst to many, the Hillstrand family own several businesses besides their highly profitable stint in crab fishing. For starters, their Hillstrand Construction company seems to be growing steadily. With over 5,000 followers on social media, this small family company is managed by Scott Hillstrand, who’s Johnathan’s son and who appeared in early seasons of “Deadliest Catch”.

That being said, Hillstrand Fireworks is definitely the most prolific out of all the Hillstrands side businesses, a fact which makes the brothers quite proud.


As stated on their shop’s website, the brothers’ mission with this business was to provide an economic and safe alternative to minor firework vendors, steadily becoming a prominent distributor with over 35 years on the market.

For his part, Johnathan recently released “Adventures Of Little Bird”, a kids book series he started while in hospital after suffering a ranch accident. His work achieved such wide success that he’s already hosted several book signing sessions all around the country. As well, Andy and his wife Sabrina own Hobby Horse Acres, a recreational horse-riding center located on his family’s ranch in Indiana.

The Firework Lawsuit

Accidents happen in every industry and it’s no different in crab fishing. That being said, an unfortunate incident involving the Hillstrand brothers and a Time Bandit fisherman resulted in not only a serious legal issue for the family, but destroyed someone’s career.

David “Beaver” Zielinski was a deckhand on the Time Bandit, but during 2013’s fishing season he was ordered to aim a Hillstrand Fireworks’ firecracker towards the Cape Caution vessel. However, the artifact exploded in his hand, and left him with severe injuries and burns, ‘shattering’ his limb.

After undergoing several reconstructive surgical procedures, Zielinski recovered part of his arm, but was unable to return to fishing. That’s why in 2015 he filed a lawsuit against the Hillstrand brothers, claiming that not only were their fireworks unsafe, but also that Johnathan had acted negligently about the issue, in addition to asking Zielinski to affirm his injury was caused by a fishing accident, and not by the fireworks.

Zielinski was ultimately awarded $1.4 million in damages, putting an end to this long and enduring legal battle. However, this is one of those situations in which not even the fame and money could have helped the Hillstrand brothers. Though it’s over now, we hope the future doesn’t have other similar problems in store for the Time Bandit and its crew.

Martha Clifford

As an Author at Net Worth Post, I guide a dedicated team in the art of revealing the stories behind the world's most influential personalities. Fueled by a relentless curiosity and a knack for uncovering hidden stories, I immerse myself in the intricacies of our subjects' lives, weaving together accurate data and compelling narratives. My involvement spans the entire editorial process, from the seed of research to the final flourish of publication, ensuring that every article not only educates but also captivates and motivates our audience.

At Net Worth Post, we are committed to providing thorough investigations into the net worth and life achievements of innovators across diverse sectors such as technology, culture, and social entrepreneurship. My method merges meticulous research with eloquent storytelling, designed to bridge the gap between our readers and the remarkable individuals who redefine our tomorrow. Through spotlighting their journeys to success, the hurdles they've surmounted, and their contributions to society, we aim to give our readers a deep and inspiring insight into the luminaries who are paving the way for progress and ingenuity in the modern era.

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