Jake Harris, a TV personality from one of the most-watched reality television, “Deadliest Catch,” had a long history of run-ins with the law. He was arrested many times from when he was a teen, and it seemed his problems were exacerbated by the death in 2010 of his father, Phil Harris, one of the original beloved cast members of the Discovery Channel series. Jake and his brother were tasked to continue the legacy of his father in crab fishing, but due to his problems, he was in and out of the series over the years. Fans wondered what he had been doing, and if he spent time in jail during his absence from the TV show.

All about the “Deadliest Catch”

In the world of reality TV, the “Deadliest Catch” was one of those shows that not only earned high viewership ratings, but had also been the most recognized for quality work by its peers in the TV industry. The series has received over 100 nominations from several award-giving bodies including the prestigious Primetime Creative Emmy Awards from which the show won more than 15 awards since it premiered on TV.

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Brief background, TV premiere, and premise of the show

Most viewers associate the term ‘reality show’ with singing competitions such as “American Idol” or “The Voice,” and no one would have thought that there was another type of show that fell into the same genre. Thom Beers of Discovery Channel started bringing dangerous jobs into the forefront of reality TV, such as “Deadliest Catch.” It featured fishermen who braved the dangerous icy waters of the Bering Sea hunting for the elusive Alaskan King Crabs and meeting each of their quotas during the crab fishing season ended. It first aired in 2005, and one of the original six captains that Thom chose was Jake’s father Phil Harris of the fishing boat, Cornelia Marie.

Initially, it was supposed to be just a three-hour special in 2003, after the first documentary about Alaskan crab fishing became a huge hit due to the monstrous storm that the Discovery Channel production crew filmed aboard the boat, Fierce Allegiance. However, the weather was fine and no tumultuous drama unfolded during the filming of the second documentary, so people at Discovery thought that they should just bury it, as it was quite mundane until the night it aired. Thom Beers said, ‘That show started at point eight and went up every fifteen minutes, from eight hundred thousand to three point eight million in three hours.’ This was the reason “Deadliest Catch” has lasted for 19 seasons and counting. The excellent contrast of the dark and menacing cinematography with the yellow and orange colored jackets that the fishermen wore, with the backdrop of the blackness of the Bering Sea enthralled the viewers.

Most of the fishermen in the first season, especially the captains didn’t want any help from the production crew. They all wanted not to be disturbed, and to just be allowed to do their jobs. It changed when they all realized the magic of TV, and that it immortalized what they did. It also helped that the crew never demanded anything from the crabbers, except to film around them, and it worked.

Jake Harris’s journey in “Deadliest Catch”

His father, Phil, joined the reality TV show as one of its major stars, and it made the Harris family more popular as well as richer. It was his older brother, Josh, who first joined his father’s crew in the fishing boat Cornelia Marie. Jake joined them in 2005, and while Phil knew that he was exposing his sons to the physical dangers of the job, as well as to the mental stress that came with it, he had hoped at that time that he could steer them away from a dangerous path that he took whenever things had become too much for him, such as indulging in recreational drugs and alcohol. He thought by removing some of the pressure that came with crab fishing, he could spare Jake from the same fate; he couldn’t be more wrong.

Phil spared Jake the indignity he experienced when he was a rookie

Jake’s grandfather was a fishing boat captain, and Phil couldn’t forget the humiliation and lack of respect that he endured being the captain’s son. Phil didn’t want Jake to experience the same thing when his son boarded Cornelia Marie for the first time. He reminded the crew that Jake was working for the deck boss, and not under any circumstance would get any favor from him for being his son. He made sure that they knew that Jake was a tough kid who could survive the horrors of crab fishing. Phil told them about a certain game known to most crabbers in bars around Dutch Harbor called Game of Chicken. Two guys would put their forearms together side by side and a third guy would drop a lighted cigarette between them. The first one to flinch loses the game. It was a game that he played with Jake to test the latter’s tenacity, and he was proud to share that it was he who lost that day.

First appeared on “Deadliest Catch” during the second season

When Jake first appeared in the second season, the challenges that faced the crab fishermen were even greater because of the new regulations by the government. The fleet had been cut in half and the risks have doubled. It was only Jake’s second year as a deckhand in Cornelia Marie, so he was the least experienced in the crew. The captain was worried because the weather forecast was terrible, and he wanted the crab pots to be sitting on the seabed instead of staying on the boat when the storm came crashing in. As early as five in the morning, Jake was helping to load fresh bait into each of the pots before they threw them out to the sea. The deck boss mentioned that he found it refreshing that a new guy in the boat like Jake was willing to learn more, as he tried harder each day to follow instructions given to him.

Caught red-handed by Phil using his pain pills

In 2008, Jake’s father was enjoying the peak of his popularity. Everything seemed to be going great for him, but decades of using alcohol, cigarettes and drugs took a toll on his health, and it started to bother him. At first it didn’t seem to be serious, only aches and pain. Eventually, Phil developed blood clots on his knees that went into his lungs and caused a pulmonary embolism. The doctors said that he needed to quit smoking, so he cut back on it and his health improved a bit, however, he only did it because he wanted to get medical clearance to get back on his boat. Everyone knew that it was too soon for Phil, but he couldn’t be persuaded otherwise. The stress multiplied when Phil caught Jake red-handed stealing pain pills, and was enraged by the situation. During the confrontation, Jake admitted, ‘I’m an addict,’ and at that moment, both his father and brother were glad that for the first time, Jake was honest with them. His father told him that the only thing that would save him was to get treatment from professionals at a rehab center, and Jake promised that he would follow his advice. Everything was caught on camera, and his declaration was witnessed by fans all over the world.

Jake’s final moments with his father before the latter died

It turned out that people were right that it was too soon for Phil to be back on the boat, because he was found lying on the floor with his leg and arm in an awkward position. Jake talked to his father, who was slurring his words, while Josh called 911. He was medevacked only after Josh told him that he wouldn’t leave the boat unmanned. It was bad for Phil, and most of them had a feeling that he might not make it after he underwent emergency brain surgery. For a while he was doing fine, and Jake remembered his last conversation with him. He visited his dad in the hospital to say goodbye as he was entering a rehab center as promised. His dad said that he was proud of him and then kissed Jake’s hand. Jake was emotional as he appreciated the words he longed to hear from his father since he was a kid and said thank you. He told his father, ‘I don’t want to leave you but this is for the better,’ and Phil agreed. The last words that his father told him were that his actions had brought him tremendous joy during those past few weeks. On 9 February 2010, his father died at the age of 53, in Anchorage, Alaska.

He is getting better and wants to thank everyone so far and will thank the world soon happy holidays to all and thank you again we are lucky to have so much support!!!!

Posted by Deadliest Catch – F/V Cornelia Marie on Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stayed with Cornelia Marie for two more seasons after his father’s death

The fans witnessed how Jake Harris grew up as a crab fisherman under the watchful eyes of his father and older brother. The brothers continued to uphold their father’s legacy, and took ownership of the commercial fishing boat after Phil died. They went to their father’s longtime friend and seasoned crabber, Derrick Ray, to replace their father as captain of the boat, while they both continued to work with the crew as deckhands. Derrick accepted the offer, but said that the two boys would have to step up and do their father proud. Jake stayed for two more years with Cornelia Marie, with the show for seven seasons from the second to the eighth season. He hoped that one day he would have the strength and experience to sit in the captain’s chair.

Jake’s run-ins with the law

Of the two brothers, it was Jake who had the most difficult time dealing with their father’s death. It didn’t help that he couldn’t stop using alcohol and drugs, which led to him committing one mistake after another.

Busted for DUI after his father’s death

Just a little over a week after his father passed away, Jake was busted for driving under the influence (DUI) in February 2010. He was reported to have been driving erratically, and then crashed his father’s car, a BMW 3 series. When he was arrested, he failed the field sobriety test, and then police found that he was driving with his license suspended. After further investigation, they discovered that he’d been involved in a hit-and-run earlier that evening, when he rear-ended another occupied vehicle. He was out on bail for $2,000 after spending some time in a cell.

Found bloodied and wounded on the side of the freeway

It seemed that Jake couldn’t get a break, and in November 2016, he was robbed, beaten and eventually tossed from a car. It happened after witnesses saw him leave a casino in Washington State with a couple of guys in an SUV. However, the next thing they saw was what appeared to be an altercation inside it, and then he was thrown out of the car. It was reported that those guys jumped on him and took his wallet with his ID and cash. Police were called to the scene, and he was taken to hospital so that his head wound could be treated. His older brother Josh uploaded a video in which he talked about it, and asked if anyone recognized the guys who were with his brother that night.

Arrested for drug possession and a stolen car

Jake Harris was in the news again in April 2017, this time for stealing a car and drug possession. Apparently, he was ‘dating’ a married woman and went for a ‘vacation’ in Phoenix after driving from Washington. This wasn’t a one-time thing because it had happened before. However, this time, when the woman woke up in the hotel where they stayed, Jake was already gone along with her car. She tried to contact him but he wouldn’t answer so she reported her car stolen. The police traced the car along with Jake, and when they searched him, there were crystal meth and Xanax pills on him. He confessed that he used them so he received felony charges for theft and drug possession. A month after, Jake failed to show up in court for the hearing in Phoenix, and the judge immediately issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

Arrested again after a police chase

Jake continued to emulate his father’s stupid acts during the latter’s wild days, and in January 2019, he was reported to have taken off after he was confronted by park rangers in a state park in Skagit County, Washington State while in an RV. They were just asking for his identity because he looked quite out of it and was disheveled, but he refused to give it to them. State troopers didn’t have any choice but to chase him on the road and eventually stopped him. The police officers realized the reason why he immediately took off, as they found 14 grams of heroin and a stolen firearm inside the vehicle he was driving. He subsequently pleaded guilty to two felony charges at his case hearing in August 2019, and due to his past DUI and substance abuse record, the judge sentenced him to spend 18 months in jail. The court also demanded that he undergo evaluation for his drug dependency after the completion of his sentence, and that an ignition interlock mechanism must be installed in his car to prevent him from further incidents of DUI.

Busted with DUI again

Even after spending 18 months in jail, Jake never learned his lesson, or couldn’t give up his alcohol addiction. He was arrested once again in May 2021 by the Washington State Patrol, as he was cruising the road at 86 miles per hour in a strictly 70 miles per hour zone. He was driving a Dodge Journey that he borrowed from a friend, and it was the reason why there was no ignition interlocking device installed in the car, the requirement that he needed to fulfill from his previous DUI sentence.

Where is Jake Harris now?

Phil tried his best before he died to make sure that the stress of being out there on the Bering Sea wouldn’t have a negative effect on his sons, especially on Jake, as had happened to him. However, he realized that it wasn’t the pressure of crab fishing that made his son turn to substance abuse and get into trouble. Phil finally acknowledged that he wasn’t a good role model to his children – in fairness to him, he tried his best to correct them by divorcing his second wife who turned out to be a monster stepmother to his kids, and changing his lifestyle into something quieter and peaceful. However, it seemed that it was too late, or that he was gone too soon to provide a more positive influence to help Jake battle his personal demons.

Josh, on the other hand, became a captain of one of the fishing boats in “Deadliest Catch”, and continued to update the fans on the whereabouts of his younger brother. He said that after Jake served his jail term, he keeps on working through his problems, and that he’s dating a woman with toddlers. He shared that Jake ‘loves being a dad, and he’s really good at it.’ Josh also said that the moment Jake felt that he was comfortable working in the boats again, he would welcome him back to crab fishing.

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