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Deadliest Catch's Keith Colburn Was Given Risky Advice To Turn Off His Radio At The Start Of His Fishing Career

Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" has been around for more than two decades, and fans have gotten to know the captains of the show's vessels pretty well. Viewers also have become familiar with each of these brave leaders' tactics, priorities, and even superstitions. The one thing that these captains have in common is they all had to start somewhere. For some, they are just the latest generation of their crab-catching family line, while others started out at the bottom as a greenhorn, trying out an adventurous job for the first time. No matter how they began, they all ended up in that same wheelhouse chair.

These captains all got to experience their very first crabbing season, something none of them will ever forget. And it's a good bet that most, if not all of them, had someone they trusted giving them the advice they needed to be prepared and eventually successful. Whether it's a family member, co-worker, or mentor, these were the peers that gave these captains the helpful push they needed to launch their careers.

When it comes to Keith Colburn, captain of the Wizard, his first-time captain advice came from a person most fit to pass along the knowledge needed to handle all the elements that come along with catching crab in the Bering Sea. His name is John Jorgensen, and he occupied the same chair, on the same boat, for 25 years. And his advice to Colburn, right off the bat, was a risky one.

Colburn had to choose what kind of captain he was to become

Although "Deadliest Catch" fans know the featured captains on the show very well, they never saw how they started, as those moments happened prior to the series being created. All viewers have are the captains' stories, and for Keith Colburn of the Wizard, the vessel's website reveals that he prepared himself with the advice of his mentor, John Jorgensen, the previous leader of the boat. In fact, Jorgensen actually sold Colburn the Wizard. 

From the information on Jorgensen's yacht-equipment website, in 1978, he took a 156-foot oil barge off the U.S. Navy's hands and converted it into a crab-fishing boat that he named the Wizard. For 25 years, Jorgensen led the Wizard back and forth across the Bering Sea, catching crabs just as it does today. He sold the vessel in 2005 to Colburn, whom he had been mentoring up until that point. Before Colburn set out, Jorgensen advised, "If you want to catch crab, turn this thing off," referring to the Wizard's radio.

Of course, when it comes to fishing on the treacherous Bering Sea, the radio is one of the captain's most important tools, needed for sea-condition updates or even calling for help. But, at the outset of Colburn's career, when Jorgensen suggested that he turn off the radio, that was actually a nudge for the new captain to follow his instincts. "... If you wanna follow people, turn it on," Jorgensen concluded. Colburn ended up taking his mentor's advice, followed his instincts, and turned in a record-breaking year. The Wizard delivered over half a million pounds of crabs, when the average catch was around 1/5 that. That first trip kicked off the now-legendary career of Keith Colburn that fans get to follow today.