The Washington Post

"Deadliest Catch" season finale: Chat live with Captain Keith Colburn

Jul 26, 2011

Chat live during the season finale of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" with The Wizard Captain Keith Colburn, Tuesday July 26 at 9 p.m. ET. He'll take your questions, react to events right along with you and more.

Have a question? Ask now.

Hello! Captain Keith here. I'm ecstatic that this season is finally over. In the old days, before TV, I would come home and the boat's good, the crew's safe, and we move on to the next season. Today I come home and they start showing my season all over again. And I have to live it for three more months all over again. So, now the season is officially, finally done. But really, I'm happy that all these guys on 'Deadliest Catch' that everyone came home safe. The weather season was so bad, so I'm just thankful everyone is all right.

How many times are we going to have to watch this scene? Can we put it in super slow-mo next time?

The Post was wondering, do you actually get to see the shows before they air? Or are you witnessing the events at the same time as the rest of us?

Even though I lived it, when I see it, it's for the first time. And what's strange, is probably most of the stuff they air, I don't remember half of it. You remember the highs and lows of the season, but a lot of the stuff is minutiae. And that's the cool part of the show is that you start to remember. You start to flashback on stuff that happened as you see the story unfold on TV, and then you realize, "Uh oh." or "OK, I remember that."

The Wizard barber shop. I love this.

You know, I like it, because every now and then they make my crew look human.

I totally forgot about them putting the hair in the bay. It totally worked too - we started ripping it up.

Note on Tony Lara, captain of the Cornelia Maria, last time he was on deck was on the Wizard in 2004 and broke his arm on the 13th pot we tried to haul in the season. We normally haul thousands. In a 9-day season, three days from town, my season was effectively over. He showed up in the wheelhouse with a handmade splint made with a welding rod and cardboard and finished the season. The guy's bullet-proof.

Keith, Did you have to go to barber college to get your captain's license?

No, we actually had to go to Vidal Sassoon. 

Captain Keith, we love you on the show and want people to know that you are very kind and hard working for the fishery as well as disabled children when you are on dry land. We loved meeting you last year! My question is about your opies catch: Last season you had a huge catch but they seemed to play it down on TV. What was your biggest catch on the Wizard for both opies and king crab? Fair winds and sure catches in the future captain! From our family and friends in New York - Sarah Jefferson

Last year I had a virtually perfect snow crab season. Without any complications. That doesn't make very good TV. This year we had a great season with a boatload of complications, but I'm just happy to say we made it save and we made good money. Both this year and last. 

Hi Captain! You show your emotions readily - and cry much more openly than other captains profiled on the you catch any grief for showing emotions, and what do you attribute your on-the-surface to?

You know, people ask me all the time when they see me at home why I'm so relaxed. And I really am two different people. When I'm doing my job, I take it completely serious. I get completely wrapped up in it and I'm emotionally engaged in what I do every second of the day. So with 20-30 hour work days, at times you will allow some chinks in your armor. 

How much of your beef with the Captains of the Time Bandit is real, and how much is played up by the editors of the show?

It's real.

What sort of training do the camera people have to go through before being allowed onto your craft? Have you ever seen them pitch in to help your crew (sorting crab, making coffee/food, cleaning, etc.)?

They have to go through some limited safety training. And obviously they need to know how to operate cameras. The good ones become part of the team and pitch in and help in a multitude of ways. Sometimes you draw a turd. And I have had some of the best cameramen on my boat: Moody, Tipps, Zupo, Deker, Bland, Pastore, Todd and Doug Stanley - absolute professionals and friends. I would say because of that friendship and trust, is why you get to witness what you do, because without that I wouldn't say a word to the camera guy. 

Trial by fire during 45 mph wind is not what you want to be doing in the Bering Sea. I love Jake to death and he's going to be a great fisherman, but you've still got guys' lives in your hands. The only reason I'm saying that is because I'm freaking out because I just watched him pull a pot out of the rack with too much scope, which is not acceptable with a knuckle crane. 

Good job, kid. And great job getting your license. 

The question is who is going to be the first full-fledged captain: Jake or Josh Harris or Jake Anderson? The answer is: The Harris boys have an advantage because they are minority owners in the boat, but Jake Anderson is more dedicated and serious. He will become a captain. But it takes more than just a couple of days in the chair and a season on the crane. Good luck, Jake.

Hi Keith!! I was wondering how it came to be that you acquired Freddy with what I'm sure was stiff competition.

I've known Freddy since his first season, before he even knew how to speak English. Before he even knew he was going to catch crab. He thought he was going after octopus until they hauled the first pot. And he's had an open invitation to work on my boat for 18 years. And this year things worked out and he ended up working for me and he is every bit as phenomenal as you think he is. 

Every captain has a lucky knock. Freddy, for the life of him, couldn't get that knock down. Took him two weeks.

Just wanted to let you know that you're my favorite captain. Why? I think it's so sweet the way you always take the time to talk to your daugther when she calls. A die-hard fan of the show in Lancaster, PA

You know what, with today's phone technology, being able to stay in touch with my family is huge. It makes some of the hard days not so hard. 

Soper is a total badass. Nice hookshot.

I totally forgot that, man. I forgot about the stick-on mohawk.

Hey Keith! Love the show! Please tell me about some of your crab/sea conservation efforts you are involved in ? Also, What are some other good pranks that you pulled on the crew or other crab ships? Thanks, Travis

I'm in Washington, D.C., right now, for a Democratic Senate meeting on the health of our oceans. And I'm extremely passionate about sustainability and making sure that we protect our oceans and everything we harvest from them. 

Here in Washington we are used to talking about rules and regulations. How have rules and regulations changed fishing during your time on the sea, and what's next?

Alaskan fisheries are the most regulated on the planet. And the quagmire of rules, regulations, licensing and administrative headaches I go through just to keep my boat on the water, can be daunting and even overwhelming. 

Jr. passing that stone was brutal, dude!

Good to see Derrick smiling. He lost his brother right before opies and Art was a great fisherman and a phenomenal eccentric. He lost a finger in the mid-90s and used to wear it around his neck for a necklace. We're gonna miss ya, Arthur.

Good Day Captain Keith- What is your favorite part of the journey - The Sailing out to sea at the start of the season- or coming home at the end of the season and why? thank you- Maggy from Issaquah

By the time the boat sets sail, I'm so ready to get it out of the shipyard - it's draining my bank account, I'm so stressed out. By the time I hit the water, it's nirvana. It's just me and the ocean. But there's nothing more rewarding than coming home to your family after a trying season. 

Love the show! What happened last week when you got so angry at the guy from the film crew? It seemed like an overreaction.

The show is 16 45-minute episodes. Made from 16000 hours worth of footage. There's a lot that goes into blowing your top, there's a lot that goes into losing your composure. But it's not about a cup of coffee. And it wasn't about a cup of coffee. It's about keeping a kid alive for four months. Arrogance and ignorance can be fatal in the Bering Sea - and a very bad character trait. And late in the season, becoming complacent is even worse. But the last thing you want to do is lose respect for the captain of a crab boat after he's been changing your diapers for the last four months.

Hello Captain Keith - we love you and we are sorry that DC tried to make you out as the hard nosed captain. We know better. You are just keeping your crew safe. Do you think Monte will take over the boat after you have left? Best of luck for a great season 8!  from NY, Sue Hastings

I have appreciated all the phenomenally kind well wishes over the last few weeks because it's difficult to watch a show that you don't have any control over. And it's difficult to watch a season that has had some of the worst weather. And I appreciate that you get it.

Don't you miss Lake Tahoe? I live three hourrs away from there and I love it.

I miss Lake Tahoe, I love Lake Tahoe. And was just home and had a mini-reunion with seven friends that dated back to kindergarten and don't you wish you were the fly on the wall at that conversation. 

think you're awesome

I think you're amazing. 

Derrick Ray gave an interview stating Jake and Josh Harris are only in it for the cameras? Is that something you agree or disagree with?

I think Derrick Ray is a phenomenal captain, one of the best in the business and it's unfortunate that he'll only have one season on TV. He was a great friend of Phil's and his fishing partner and came in to help the family out last year after Phil passed away. My hat's off to Derrick. 

Hello, I love this show! I was just wondering what leadership style do you call your actions in the last episode? I was in the military, so I have an understanding of leadership. In that episode, you assualted a camera man. I want to know how you can put your hands on someone and expect them not to get back in your face? Is that leadership style just called stupidity? I have lost all respect for your leadership, and wonder how your crew could still respect you.

Bite me. 

Blast him, Sig! Blast him!

Do you hang out with the other boat captains/ crew when your not in season? Any fall out for your personal families from the shows/recognition? How are your children treated by their peers?

Initially, the kids loved the show, but now they really don't like Wednesdays, having to answer a bunch of questions. And it definitely complicated life, not having a whole lot of free time. And it seems like when I actually do want to have some alone time, there's always that person. Like at the coffee shop the other day, 0600, and a lady screams "Oh my God, Deadliest Catch Captain Keith!" and the whole coffee shop turns to look. But, I've also met a lot of really cool people.  

we have seen some pretty scary moments on some extremely heavy seas. Have we seen your scariest moment in the wheelhouse?

You know what, this year we had so many they didn't even show one of the waves on TV that destroyed my stack and had myself and everybody else extremely nervous. Every year throws you a couple curve balls. This year we had a ton of them. 

Do you know most of the captains and crews featured on the show?

I've known most of these guys for 20+ years. SOme of these guys have even worked on the Wizard. Past Wizard crew: On the NW: Kevin and Matt; On the CM: Dale and Tony.

Keith are you going to be able to attend the festival this year? Would be great if you could there are so many people that would love to meet you .

No. The Fall Fishermen's Festival in Seattle is the same weekend, unfortunately. Being on the board for the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial, it's important for myself and the Wizard to be there. So, Aug. 17 - come see the Wizard in Seattle!

Keith, how was it fishing the first full year without Capt. Phil Harris ?

This is a weird answer, but the truth is, I've lost a lot of friends in the Bering Sea, Phil being one of them. But this is the first time we've been re-living it over and over again without being able to move on. You know what, Phil was a good guy, a good fisherman, and we're gonna miss him.

My husband's family are waterman on the Chesapeake Bay (Virginia side) and crab and clam on boats they built themselves. My husband became a teacher because it's getting harder to make a living on the water here. Two questions:1) do you think you could make it on the Bay in 100+ temps for fishing? (2) Do you think there will be a future for your children in fishing?

Smooth sailing and big catches to your family. As for 100 degrees temperatures, I fish for three days in Hawaii and just about melted. I'll stick to the cold.

The stick on Mohawk was great!!!! I laughed and laughed, then I cried to hear how much the guys brought home!!! Wow, if I made that much in my life I would be happy (and I could come see you!) LOL.....If I didn't get sea sick I would offer to be the cook!!! Hope you know we love you!!!!

I was happy to see the Wizard having fun at the end of the show. And we had a lot of fun the entire season. Unfortunately they usually don't show much of it. And I'm watching BTS and totally forgot about the turkey baster. You better stay on land!

What's really cool about this is that there was nothing produced in this. It just happened. They filmed and filmed and filmed and they captured something truly amazing.

Congratultions on the "Crab Count." Fair weather and tanks filled with happy crabs next season!

I think after watching Phil's memorial again, it's a good time to sign off. And thanks to everyone that was watching with me. 26 years on the Bering Sea, I've seen some amazing things, and being a part of the show has had some amazing moments too. Fair winds and following seas. Stay safe.

In This Chat
Captain Keith Colburn
At the age of 22, Keith left behind his life as a Lake Tahoe ski bum to seek his fortune up north. He jumped on a plane with his best friend and landed in Kodiak, Alaska with no experience, a tent and $50. With only a hazy, but romantic vision of working at sea and the rumor of big paydays, Keith was determined to try something new and exciting. He started as a true greenhorn on the crabber Alaska Trader.

Keith was instantly hooked by the fishing lifestyle and the camaraderie of being part of a crew working together against the elements. While initially looking only for adventure in Alaskan waters, Keith decided to make it a career. In 1988, three years after he arrived, he became a full-share deckhand on the Wizard. He earned his U.S. Coast Guard license in 1990 and moved from the deck to the pilothouse. Two years later, he received his masters (captain) license and has remained there as the skipper.

In 2002, Keith purchased the crabber Sirene (pronounced Sea-Wren), but continued to operate the Wizard. In 2004, he sold the fishing rights for the Sirene in a government run fleet reduction program. When this program led to a reduction of the crabbing fleet from 250 to 80 crabbers, Keith went ahead and purchased the Wizard to secure his stake in the crabbing industry.

He and his wife Florence have shared a special bond as partners in both life and business for more than 25 years. She manages much of the business end of their boat's operations and together they balance their time to raise their son Caelan and daughter Sienna.
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