This week, The Discovery Channel began its ten-part series, Cold Water Cowboys. The show follows “six captains and their crews as they venture hundreds of kilometres offshore in the North Atlantic, facing swells as high as houses and icebergs the size of small cities. These captains are stubborn men who survived [the calamity of the cod industry] by retooling and rebuilding the industry on new catches: crab, shrimp, turbot, herring, and mackerel. It’s a tough job – tough on the boats, tough on gear, tough on the human body – but these bred-in-the-bone fishermen will never trade their boats for boardrooms.”

Meet the crews:

Richard Gillett, Midnight Shadow – Twillingate

  • A fifth-generation fisherman, Richard Gillett has worked every fishing season since the age of 13. By 25, he’d lost his first boat to an iceberg the size of a house – thankful that he and his crew escaped with their lives. He lives for the first day of the season in April, and mourns the last fishing day in December.

Conway and Rick Caines, Seadoo – Cow Head

  • Rick Conway was ready to sell his boat 17 years ago – until son Conway returned to The Rock to join his dad in the family business. Though Rick is the skipper, Conway is clearly the boss of the ragtag crew of inexperienced drifters. After an accident with the boat last year, this season is make-it-or-break-it for the father/son duo.

Justin Bridger, MJ Nadine – Carmanville

  • Justin Bridger’s father, Guy, is a renowned fisherman who casts a long shadow. Recently retired, Guy has handed the day-to-day operations to his son. Aggressive and competitive, Justin is up for the job, but soon feels all the pressure of running the show, with few of the perks of captaining his own boat

Paul Tiller, Justin & Jason II – Valleyfield

  • Paul Tiller started fishing at 16 with a 20-foot speedboat, and has worked his way up from there. He maintains a family-like camaraderie aboard Justin & Jason II, and this remarkable brotherhood is the key to their success.

Donald Spence, K&N Enterprise – Port Aux Choix

  • Donald Spence is competitive and unapologetic about doing whatever it takes to get the catch. He’s taken on a huge debt for his “new” 30-year-old boat, and is driven to get the vessel in the water and prove himself.

Todd Young, Nicole Daniel – Woody Point

  • Todd Young is a big man at sea, owning not only a massive boat, but also his own processing plant. Being your own fish buyer definitely has its advantages. Young is mostly after the money fish – mackerel. But he’s a risk-taker and has frequently torn his net on the sea floor and run aground in shoal waters.