Returning out the bay
Cold Water Cowboys returns with its thrilling fourth season this April, blending series
favourites and newcomers for more can’t miss TV from our own shores
What started as a well deserved spotlight for the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador has morphed into a worldwide phenomena. Cold Water Cowboys, which offers an at-times too close for comfort look into the men and women that risk life and limb within Newfoundland and Labrador’s thriving seafood industry, has become an international sensation, making household names out of the series’ stars.
Ahead of the highly anticipated fourth season The Herald caught up with newly minted series producer Maria Knight and some of the familiar faces and newcomers that make up the Cold Water Cowboys family.
“It’s really exciting to showcase Newfoundland and the culture of fishing and the stories that these guys have,” shared series producer Maria Knight, who joined the Cold Water team ahead of the fourth season. “The show is in its fourth season but this is my first with the show. I have to say it’s probably one of the most exciting shows I’ve ever worked on.”
Among the familiar faces returning for season four is that of Paul Tiller and the crew of the Atlantic Bandit, who have become household names here at home and abroad thanks to the immense success of the series.
“I think the show has put a spotlight on the Newfoundland fishery,” Tiller said. “Believe it or not people on this island knew there was a fishery but didn’t know what went on out there and now they get to watch it on TV. It’s really good for the tourism industry. The show is practically playing all over the word and it just shows more of our beautiful island we’ve got here.”
The near immediate celebrity status has come as something of a welcome shock to Tiller and his fellow castmates, who are just happy to help spotlight an industry that oftentimes fails to gain the recognition and positive notoriety it so deserves.
“People have eaten seafood, but they don’t really know where it comes from. This show shows people where their seafood is coming from and what it takes for we to go get it,” Tiller says. “Fishing is a dangerous job, one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. We have to go out and make a living and meanwhile we have to make it back home safe. I’ve had a lot of friends and a lot of people I knew who went fishing and they never came back. It’s nothing to be taken lightly.”
New to the Cold Water family this season is skipper Calvin Kerrivan and his son and first mate Kurtis of the Crewshell Chill out of Placentia. Much like their predecessors Calvin and Kurtis have had to adjust to life in-front of the lens of the camera, all while balancing their strenuous duties aboard the Crewshell Chill.
“It was a different experience for us. We weren’t ever filmed before or anything like that,” shared Kurtis. “At first you’re a little camera shy and not used to it. It’s the same as everything else and it’s just like an everyday thing. We’re still doing the same thing we’ve always done, we haven’t changed our way of fishing. At first you’re just not used to being near the cameras and now it’s the same as normal as if they’re not even there.”
The Kerrivan’s are just the next in a lineage of proud father-son and family tandems to tackle the cruel yet bountiful Atlantic. It’s a dynamic that has give and take, but is always more rewarding than burdensome.
“It’s good to be fishing with your family, especially with me and Dad being father and son. Times get tough, all fathers and sons have their arguments and things like that, but it definitely is great to be able to work with family members,” Kurtis shared. “Being able to fish with my father and having him teach me all the ropes, it’s definitely a great experience.”
adapt or die
Newfoundland’s fishery is of course fraught with challenges. Spiteful weather, the eb and flow of mother nature that results in a need to evolve catching patterns – it’s adapt or die and as a result the Cold Water Cowboys have become chameleons of the sea.
“Every fishing season has its challenges,” Tiller said. “You have cuts in some fisheries, some are up some are down, it’s all about going out and making a living fishing. You never know what you’re going to get. Every year is different. Weather patterns are different, everything is different every year.”
For the Crewshell Chill, jumping ahead of the game and tackling several new fisheries to the show represents an opportunity to lay claim to previously untouched ground.
“We fish whelp and sea cucumber. Those are species that the other crews never caught,” shared Calvin Kerrivan. “You’ve got to be at it all, all the species to try to make the season. You’ve got to be at it all to try to keep it going up until the first week in December.”
It is in part that ability to adjust on the fly and to dare and gamble that has endeared the Cowboys to legion of viewers across the globe. Factor in the ready-made beauty of Newfoundland’s landscape and you have a recipe for television gold.
“The guys are going out farther, they’re taking a couple more risks,” said producer Maria Knight. “A lot of the fisheries were at an all-time high in terms of price, especially crab. You’re going to see some beautiful footage of the island. We really made a point of showcasing the beauty of the island. It’s exciting. Fishing is exciting.”
Boiling it down to the fact of the matter, what is it about Cold Water Cowboys that appeals so much to the common viewer? “I think it’s because there’s no other show like it,” Knight explains. “I don’t think at any other time this part of the country has been showcased like Cold Water has showcased Newfoundland fishermen. It’s something Canada can call their own and something all Canadians, not just Newfoundlanders, can be proud of.”
‘Cold Water Cowboys’ season 4 airs Tuesdays at 11:30 NL on Discovery.