In his own way, Conway Caines is already a star in the fishing industry on the Northern Peninsula.
So don’t expect to see a red carpet rolled out in Port Saunders as he steps into the spotlight as one of the featured fishermen in “Cold Water Cowboys.”
The 10-part reality television series that follows six fishing boats from Newfoundland and Labrador premieres on the Discovery Channel on Feb. 25.
Rick Caines is the skipper of the Seadoo, but it’s his son Conway who usually takes charge of the crew when they head out to sea.
They were on their way back to shore late last spring when the phone aboard the Seadoo rang. On the other end were the show’s producers, wanting to ask if the crew would be willing to be a part of the show.
“At first I said, ‘I don’t think so,’” said Caines in a phone interview from his home in Port Saunders. “Then they said they were doing a documentary TV show for Discovery Channel on the Newfoundland fishery. Anything to do with the Newfoundland fishery, I figured, was going to help give it a one up, so I agreed to do it.”
Caines is no stranger to advocating for and speaking his mind about the goings on in the fishing industry. He has been front row and centre at protests at Department of Fisheries and Oceans offices and sometimes takes to the open line radio shows to have his say about what’s happening.
He had no trepidation about going in front of a television camera to show off the lifestyle he so proudly pursues and fights for.
When the two-man film crew from Discovery Channel came to get their footage, Caines and his father had not long finished fishing crab and had their first go at turbot done.
The next species on their list was caplin, for which they bump the crew up to five people.
It just so happened that he had a couple of rookies among the caplin crew, so it was a good time to show the film crew the ropes too.
“It worked out pretty good,” said Caines. “When I had to tell everybody what to do, it kind of went good for the cameras and everybody watching the show because I’m explaining to my crew and kind of explaining to everyone watching the show at the same time.”
The camera followed Caines and the Seadoo crew on and off for several weeks as they pursued caplin, halibut, herring and mackerel. They also went on fishing excursions two other boats from western Newfoundland — the Nicole Daniel, with its skipper Todd Young from Woody Point, and the K and N Enterprise, based out of Port au Choix and captained by Donald Spence.
Caines said he doesn’t know how to be anyone but himself, so if his personality comes across as somewhat colourful on the show, he assures it’s genuine.
“Like I told them, I’m me and I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me,” said Caines.
That doesn’t mean he took advantage of the opportunity to force his views regarding the politics that goes on behind the scenes in the fishery.
“It’s a fishing show,” he said. “It’s not about politics. If people wants to see what’s going on in the fishery, they don’t want all the rigamarole down amongst it with all the other stuff.”
He just wants people who watch the show to gain a better appreciation for what life is like prosecuting the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. He also wants to show the high quality of the fish being landed by boats like his, which catch their quotas relatively close to the ports where the fish are landed.
“I hope it puts some light on how hard we work over here,” he said.
When he is on land, Caines gets plenty of good-natured ribbing from his family and friends, not to mention plenty of congratulations from people who are proud Caines will get to show the world the life he has chosen to live.
“But I don’t see no big thing about it,” he said of his newfound fame. “I’m not a feller that goes around gloating about it.”