Captain Keith Colburn Dives Into The 16th Season Of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch"

For the first time ever on "Deadliest Catch," the Alaskan crab fleet faces off against their biggest rival – the Russians. A competition so fierce, the captains must push into uncharted territory, including one veteran actually going to Russia. The 16th season brings new fishing alliances, former Catch captains returning to the fleet and a global, headline-grabbing winter storm that pounds their crab boats. Captain Keith Colburn joined BUILD.

Video Transcript


MATT FORTE: Hello, world. What is up? Welcome to "BUILD at Home." I'm your host, Matt Forte, and I'm coming to you from my home, as is our next guest.

But before we jump in, I want to talk briefly about Millions of children are losing the healthy meals they depend on as the coronavirus closes schools nationwide. Actually, I checked their site. 540 million meals to date have been lost.

Now, No Kid Hungry has a plan to feed them, which is awesome, but we just need a little bit of your help. So head over to if you happen to be a person in a position that can give a little and take a look and see if there's something you can do to help out, all right? Thank you.

Let's get the show on the road. "Deadliest Catch" returns for its 16th season next Tuesday, April 14 with a special two-hour premiere event. It is not to be missed. On top of everything you know and love about this show, this season brings with it the biggest rival in "Deadliest Catch" history, the Russians.

Joining me now to talk a little bit about it, one of the greats, the Crab Wizard himself. Please welcome back to the show the one and only Captain Keith Colburn. Captain, how you doing, sir?

KEITH COLBURN: I'm doing great. How are you?

MATT FORTE: I'm doing all right, man. We're hanging in there, getting by one day at a time. I'm excited to talk to you about the show, of course, but first and foremost, the most important thing, how are you? How are you holding up? How's the family? How's everything right now on your side, sir?

KEITH COLBURN: Well, the family's kind of disjointed. You know, my daughter is in Bellingham, Washington. My son is in Texas, and I'm actually in Boise, Idaho--


KEITH COLBURN: --with my lovely girlfriend, which has been a blessing for both of us, I think. And, you know, we're staying safe. We're practicing our social distancing. You know, we've got our fancy masks and gloves, whatever. And, you know, and it's about protecting yourself as much as it is about protecting other people. So we're doing our best, you know? And it's-- she hasn't kicked me out yet. [LAUGHS]

MATT FORTE: Always a good measure, right, if you've made it this far.



KEITH COLBURN: It's like [INAUDIBLE] instead of me saying out of my wheelhouse. [LAUGHS] When Hillary said out of my house.

MATT FORTE: Exactly. That could turn the tables right on you. As someone accustomed to being out at sea for extended periods of time, how has quarantine life been treating you? Does this feel a little less alien? You're used to being quiet and staying put for a little bit, right? Like, that's not too new to you.

KEITH COLBURN: You know, we've been-- as fishermen and not just crab fishermen, you know, we go to sea. We're out there for prolonged times with nothing other than ourselves in a small space confined with each other, working together, and trying to, you know, get through the trip-- just get back to the dock. And that's no different than what we're doing right now. I mean, we're just trying to get through this and get back to the dock.

You know, I think somebody said it's like, you know, that COVID-19's almost like a rogue wave that's hit America and the world. And right now we're just trying to ride out the storm.

But, you know, at the end of the day, it's amazing how, when you do ride out a storm, how much closer you are to the people that you were in that storm with. And right now, even though we're distanced from each other, we're all in this together.

MATT FORTE: 100%. You know, quite famously before you got into the fishing game, in your early days you worked as a sous chef at a French restaurant. And you also, of course, have Captain Keith Catch Products? Out there. So what I'm getting at is you know your way around a kitchen. What have you been cooking up? How are you guys staying fed while you've been doing this stuff at home? You making anything fancy? What are you doing over there?

KEITH COLBURN: We've actually been having date nights. So we had Beef Wellington the other night.


KEITH COLBURN: Yeah. Made up some really good potato-leek soup.


KEITH COLBURN: We actually had Thanksgiving dinner last week.

MATT FORTE: That was the plan that we had here as well. We were like, well, what's something we can make that will have a ton of leftovers? And that way we can get through a couple of days with it. So we got stuffing, carrots, the whole nine-- turkey. We did the whole Thanksgiving thing just so we'd have leftovers to last us for a couple of days.

KEITH COLBURN: Yeah, I really, you know, enjoyed getting back into the galley, so to speak--


KEITH COLBURN: --and cooking again. And, you know, we've got a beautiful barbecue out there. We've been doing all kinds of stuff, you know, smoking and cooking things. And, you know, and it's-- it's amazing how you look forward to sitting down at the table--


KEITH COLBURN: --whereas normally in our lives we're so rushed. We don't make time for that or we're eating out all the time or we're on the go. You know, and right now it's-- I think it's-- you know, isolation's difficult. Being cramped up with someone for long periods of time is not easy. But just finding the little things in life, like just making something to eat, is really cool. So I've really enjoyed that because, you know, for the last few years, you know, I was a bachelor, basically, and empty nester.

MATT FORTE: Right. Right.

KEITH COLBURN: And so, you know, I would eat out way too much. So I'm actually eating healthier now--

MATT FORTE: That's great.

KEITH COLBURN: --yeah, which is good.

MATT FORTE: You know, a lot of people-- one of the things we're talking about-- everybody's talking about with all this time that we have at home is what are you watching? What are you binging? What are your favorite shows? For a lot of people, their show that they're binging-- catching up on is "Deadliest Catch." I assume that since you're in it, probably not your first choice of what to binge and watch when you're at home. Maybe it is. I don't know. There's a lot of other ships that you're not on. But what are you guys watching? What's been the greatest distraction for you right now while all this is going on?

KEITH COLBURN: Well, the crazy thing is this, is that a friend of mine, an actor I met at a charity event, like a celebrity ski event a few years back, Giancarlo Esposito--

MATT FORTE: Of course. Yes.

KEITH COLBURN: --and "Breaking Bad"--


KEITH COLBURN: --I'd never watched it.


KEITH COLBURN: So right [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah. So that's the good thing about a guy that just watches sports and the news a little bit and pretty much nothing else. Now all of a sudden I've got all these shows that I've never watched, and this one I get to watch. And we're finally into the episodes where he shows up--

MATT FORTE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

KEITH COLBURN: --and I'm so stoked. I've got to reach out. In fact, I don't know if he's out there or not, but Giancarlo, shoutout to you, man. You look good at the diner, dude.

MATT FORTE: Oh man, I am so jealous of you that you get to experience this story for the first time. I will not spoil anything, but you are in for a real ride. He is outstanding in that. I mean, he's great in everything he does. He's fantastic, a wonderfully talented dude. But in this show in particular, he's pretty incredible. So that's really cool, man. Well--

KEITH COLBURN: He's a pretty-- you know what? And he's a pretty good skier as well.

MATT FORTE: Is he really? Is that-- how did you say you guys met? How did you cross paths?

KEITH COLBURN: We met about six, seven years ago at a celebrity ski event that--


KEITH COLBURN: --promoted Waterkeeper. And he ended up staying an extra day, and so did I. And we ended up being on the same team together. We won, by the way. And--


MATT FORTE: Humble brag. The humble brag, yeah.

KEITH COLBURN: And, you know, we skied together. And then the next year we came out. We got there a day early and skied together and skied afterwards.

MATT FORTE: Oh, that's so cool.

KEITH COLBURN: And, you know, it's unfortunate I haven't really been keeping up with him for the last couple of years because they don't have the event anymore. But--


KEITH COLBURN: --you know, that's one thing that I think has basically been a positive to all this self-quarantine, isolation, stay-at-home stuff is it's given us an opportunity to reignite old friendships and acquaintances and people that, you know, we've sort of lost track of a little bit in our busy lives and just being able to say hello again.


KEITH COLBURN: So, you know, in some ways, even though we're by ourselves, I think we're fortunate that with today's technology we can do this. With today's technology, we can FaceTime. We can just-- you know, we can enjoy a moment with friends, playing a game of Monopoly or, you know, having happy hour or whatever. It's actually been, you know, finding ways to do things to keep ourselves entertained and interact with people is really cool.

MATT FORTE: 100%. I couldn't agree more.

I just want to say before we get into the next thing here, it's just I'm really happy that you're doing well and your girlfriend's doing well and the kids are OK. That's what's important. Everybody's safe and healthy right now. And I really appreciate you taking time to chat for a little bit.

Let's talk about the upcoming season of the show, red versus red, white, and blue, America versus the Russians. First time in the show's history that we're seeing something like this. In all your years out on the water, have you ever encountered something like this, this common enemy for everybody, if you will, or common rival? Has this ever happened before?

KEITH COLBURN: Well, here's the thing. You know, I've been going to the Bering Sea for 34 years now, and back in the mid to late '80s, the wall was still up.


KEITH COLBURN: And it was very rare that a Russian boat came into Dutch Harbor. If they did, nobody's getting off the boat. And I can remember trading Levi's, some magazines of ill repute.


MATT FORTE: Magazines of ill repute, love it.

KEITH COLBURN: And it was really cool because I ended getting this-- you know, one of those, like, classic Russian hats.

MATT FORTE: I can see it in my head. I know exactly what you're talking about.

KEITH COLBURN: It didn't fit, but my grandfather at the time had Alzheimer's and was, you know, kind of wheelchair bound and whatnot. But he had traveled a lot with my grandmother and in, like, the '50s or '60s he had gone to Moscow had bought one of those hats. And they took it away from him when he came back into the States. And so I gave him the hat, and that was like his favorite hat going up and down Main Street in Plymouth.

MATT FORTE: That's amazing.

KEITH COLBURN: So the interaction with the Russians back then was zero, basically. You know, we've been battling with them on price wars for years, you know? They have flooded our market with illegally caught crab and really raised havoc on our fishery and what we're seeing for our dock pricing. And this year they're supposedly cleaning up their act. It remains to be seen.


KEITH COLBURN: So what it's giving us is a window of getting crab to market sooner than them.

MATT FORTE: Got it. Got it.

KEITH COLBURN: And we've always got a premium for our crab because the quality's better. The standards are better. You know, everything coming out of Alaska is absolutely pristine and, you know, the best standards on the planet for a frozen seafood product. But, you know, it's given us an opportunity to try to get to the dock first and get the best price in the market. So in effect, this year we're racing the Russians back to the dock.

MATT FORTE: We get a little bit of, like, national pride in the first episode, right out of the gate chanting USA, USA, and all that. Was there eventually a different vibe amongst the US ships, a camaraderie, a united front? Because at the end of the day, US or Russian, you're all out there kind of get to the same thing first and get back first. But did it feel a little different this time? Like, was the US-- were you guys bonded over that, or was it just another day out in the water? What was it like?

KEITH COLBURN: Well, first of all, let me tell you this. I respect anybody that works hard for a living, whatever country they're from. So if a guy's going out and going to sea and fishing shrimp somewhere in Southeast Asia or lobster in Maine or in the Mediterranean or whatever, I really respect anybody that does what I do. It's a difficult job. It doesn't just have to be crab in the Bering Sea, which is miserable.

But with that being said, you know, anytime national pride comes into the equation, it's amazing how we rally together, you know? And, you know, I mean, it's really unfortunate that the Olympics are going to be suspended, you know, because--


KEITH COLBURN: --that is something every four years that we get to witness where we really get into our home team, man, and red, white, and blue, baby.



MATT FORTE: Yeah, for sure. You know, you guys, The Wizard and your ship, you waste no time getting into a little bit of trouble with a terrible storm right in the first episode. And I've heard you talk about, you know, your top priority out there is getting your crew home safe 100%, and you see that. But how do you balance that being your top priority with also having to lead and push everyone to do what they got to do to get the job done and bring home-- you know, in this instance I think it was, like, $2 million worth of crap. How do you juggle those two things? How do you keep everybody safe but make sure you guys are pushing it and getting it done?

KEITH COLBURN: There is a fine line, you know, and it's hard to figure out where that line is because the conditions of the sea are constantly changing. And even with today's advanced weather forecasting and everything else, it's not perfect.

So, you know, this year I made a mistake. You know, I thought I could get off the dock while a lot of the boats were going to stay in town for the typhoon to pass and basically take the tail end storm surge, surf it out to the fishing grounds, and get out there early.

The problem was we had a secondary front come down that intensified the low pressure that came right in on the backside of the typhoon. And ultimately that storm surge that I was monitoring it-- you know, when you're out at sea, it's hard to tell how big the waves are.


KEITH COLBURN: They all look real big, right? But when you're in, you know, 50, 60 fathoms of water, you can see on the sounder how far you're going in depth. And we were literally in solid 40-foot seas.


KEITH COLBURN: And the problem with 40-foot seas is that, you know, people call them rogue waves, freak waves, whatever waves. No. They're just waves, and there is a cycle that happens about every 12 to 14 minutes where there's going to be an anomaly with three or four waves that are 30% bigger than the average.


KEITH COLBURN: So I put myself in a position that I regret. And, you know, I've got a big boat, a safe boat, and we weathered the storm. But ultimately, you know what? I'm-- you know, I just have-- I have to remind myself all the time. Keith, you know what? Remember what your chores are here. Get the boat, the crew, and everybody home safe.

MATT FORTE: Get them home, yeah.

KEITH COLBURN: And then you're successful.

MATT FORTE: We've-- I've heard you talk before about big storms and close calls and times that maybe the boat isn't responding how you'd like it to or even just that story there. Has it ever gotten so bad that you think to yourself, man, if we make it out of this, I'm going to open a restaurant or something? This is bullshit. I can't keep doing this. Has it ever gotten so scary that you thought, just let me get to the other side of this one and we'll have to rethink things? Or when you get to the other side, are you just ready for the next one?

KEITH COLBURN: You know, people ask me that all the time. You know, are you ever scared out there?

MATT FORTE: Yeah. Like, how do you--

KEITH COLBURN: You know what? And the answer is no. I don't know. It's probably just something in my DNA or whatever, but no. But when I really look at something and get concerned is after the event. When I sit there and I replay everything in my mind and realize just how bad it was--


KEITH COLBURN: --then it can be a pretty intense emotional response that I might have--


KEITH COLBURN: --you know, just basically critiquing myself. But yeah, we've been in some stuff before that was beyond dicey. I've had the boat in a position before that I won't do it again.


KEITH COLBURN: You know, there's just things that I just won't-- hang on a second. I got to--

MATT FORTE: Handle your business.

KEITH COLBURN: There's just things that I won't put the boat in that position again. And the thing is everybody says, you know, know your limits. Well, you don't. What is a limit? Is it a set line that you know is there?


KEITH COLBURN: Right? Well, as fisherman, we're always pushing the limits. We're always testing ourselves. We're testing our boat. We're testing everything to see what we can accomplish and then keep the boat safe.

And, you know, it's unfortunate, but, you know, again this year, good friends of mine were lost at sea. And we won't know for months and months what actually occurred, but, you know, it's-- what I like to think of is where have I taken this boat and where have I taken myself and my crew to before--


KEITH COLBURN: --and gotten away with it? That's my limit, and I'm not going near that limit again.

MATT FORTE: Right. Right.

KEITH COLBURN: And this year's typhoon-- I think Typhoon Elsa was one of those times where--

MATT FORTE: It was up there.


MATT FORTE: My God. Well, we're coming down to the end of the wire here. We're going to wrap things up in a second. But one of the things-- you know, we talk about being scared, not being scared. 16th season of the show. Show's massive, one of the most watched things on television, and you've been with it for a while. So naturally what comes with that, especially this day and age, is you've taken some heat on social media over the years, especially when you fired Monte.

As the show's gotten bigger and bigger and more of that's happened, is that something that you expected to happen, seeing that kind of response from fans? Is that something you had to learn how to process and deal with? What was that like when you started seeing that in the early days and the first times and seeing the world respond to the stuff that you were doing, the decisions you were making, the ways you behave in certain scenarios? What does that feel like the first time you saw all that come through?

KEITH COLBURN: To be honest, it was really difficult because, remember, they take a lot of footage and they edit the show. So, you know, early on in the years of the show, I was really portrayed as the bad guy--


KEITH COLBURN: --because they didn't show any of the moments where I'm the life coach, the principal, the kindergarten teacher, you know, the educator, the therapist. And all of those are part of a captain's job but also the enforcer. And unfortunately, you know, I've got a pretty explosive personality, and that's been shown many times on TV, especially with my brother, you know, Monte, who I love to death. We're closer than you can imagine.

But, you know, he takes liberties because he is my brother and not just an employee. And so that tends to bubble me up to the point where, you know, like he says, my brother doesn't explode. He detonates.



KEITH COLBURN: And so it does happen with me at times. You know, and then that comes back to like just where we're all at right now. You know, we're all kind of in close quarters, just like we're on a boat.


KEITH COLBURN: We're in a difficult situation, and ultimately we're just trying to get through this storm together. And, you know, we're going to make it through this storm.

MATT FORTE: Yeah, for sure. Well, no better place to end than that. We are going to make it through this storm. Thank you so much.

Before we get out of here, I'll remind everybody a couple of things. First of all, we started the show talking about Go ahead head over there and take a look and see if you can help out a little bit.

I'll remind everybody out there as well, "Deadliest Catch" returns Tuesday, April 14 at 8:00 PM Eastern and Pacific Time on Discovery followed by the spin-off series "Deadliest Catch-- Bloodline" at 10:00. So that's April 14. That's next Tuesday. It's going to be a fantastic evening of television, a great distraction for everybody.

Captain, I'll say it again. I'm so happy that you're doing well and that everybody on your side's doing OK and hanging in there. And, you know, I hope that continues and we all stay the course and weather the storm as it was. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. Anything you want to say before we get out of here?

KEITH COLBURN: Well, I was going to say this. Is there a way to attract donations to helping feed kids that are not getting good lunches right now?

MATT FORTE: If you head over-- so is the organization that has all of the information about where the donations are going, the work that they're doing, and how that's working. And they have a real-time tracker that is keeping track of how many meals have been lost to sort of emphasize the need for these meals for these kids. But has tons of information of all the different ways that you can support and what they're doing as well. So that's a great resource, and thank you for asking about that for sure.

KEITH COLBURN: All right, well, I'm going to right now and going to put in a donation.

MATT FORTE: Absolute saint. Man, it has been so awesome talking to you, Captain. Thank you again for being here and for doing that and setting a great example, man.

Congratulations on another season of television, and happy and healthy to you. Cheers, sir. I hope to see you again real soon in person next time, all right?

KEITH COLBURN: All right. Stay safe.

MATT FORTE: Likewise. Thank you.