Regular readers of my blog will know about my love for the Deadliest Catch TV series, as it’s something I’ve written about regularly in the past. Something I’ve not covered to date though, is who the wealthiest captain on Deadliest Catch is. I decided to research it, so if you want to know which skipper earns the most money, read on.

Who is the richest captain on Deadliest Catch? As of 2019, the richest captain on Deadliest Catch is Sig Hansen, captain of F/V Northwestern. It has been said that this Deadliest Catch captain has an estimated net worth of $3.5 million US dollars. Captain Hansen is not only the wealthiest captain on the show but quite possibly its biggest star. 

How much do the Deadliest Catch captains make per episode?

If that’s how rich the Deadliest Catch captains can get, it stands to reason that they make a lot of money per episode. You’d be right in thinking this too. But how much exactly can a Deadliest Catch captain make per episode?

According to online reports, it’s possible that some of the richest Deadliest Catch captains could be making between $25,000 and $50,000 per episode. Money not to be sniffed at, I am sure you would agree!

Why the richest captains on Deadliest Catch make so much money

The fishing industry is widely considered to be among the most dangerous professions in the world, with crab fishing at the top of the list. As a reward for enduring the treacherous conditions at sea and the extreme physical toll of high-stakes, pressure-filled crabbing, participants are well compensated for their efforts.

Read on to find out exactly how wealthy the Deadliest Catch captains are.

How much do the captains on Deadliest Catch earn?

Crab fishing vessel captains are heads of multi-million-dollar operations.  The specially constructed boats alone can cost more than $1 million, even for a used one. In fact, I’ve previously blogged at length about how much crab boats can cost.

Add in the heavy gear, crab pots, and various apparatus, and you have a floating factory trying to navigate one of the harshest seas on the planet. For calling this environment their workplace, one would think that crab boat captains are well-compensated, and they certainly are.

On average, the captain of a crab fishing vessel can earn about $200,000 in annual salary. This is impressive, considering that the typical crab fishing season lasts around three months.

For the seven captains on Deadliest Catch, this figure is likely higher given the additional opportunities for income that being on a highly rated television series affords. For instance, Sig Hansen has appeared on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice and has also written a book.

So, how do the Deadliest Catch captains rank in terms of earnings and wealth?  Here they are in order:

#1: Sig Hansen, Captain F/V Northwestern

With a reputed worth of $3.5 million, Captain Hansen occupies the top position on this list thanks not only to his crabbing prowess but his business acumen as well.  As the most recognizable cast member of Deadliest Catch, Sig Hansen reputedly commands an annual salary of $500,000 to $1,000,000.

#2: “Wild” Bill Wichrowski, Captain F/V Summer Bay

Widely considered one of the more abrasive characters on the show, Captain Wichrowski’s wealth is estimated to be $3 million and reportedly draws an annual salary of $300,000 from Deadliest Catch.

#3: Jake Anderson, Captain F/V Saga 

In what seems to be a recurring theme on Deadliest Catch, Captain Anderson embodies what it means to be a survivor.  Having endured personal hardship and multiple tragedies, Jake Anderson’s accumulated earnings of $1.8 million are a testament to his fortitude and determination.

#4: Keith Colburn, Captain F/V Wizard

As a first-generation crabber, Captain Colburn is a non-native who followed his heart to Alaska and never looked back.  Along the way, Keith Colburn has amassed an estimated fortune of $1.5 million as the captain and owner of the largest boat on Deadliest Catch, the F/V Wizard.

#5: Sean Dwyer, Captain F/V Brenna A

As one of the younger captains on the show, Sean Dwyer may represent the next generation of crabbers, ready to take the torch from veterans like Sig Hansen.  With a reported worth of $900,000, Captain Dwyer has set his sights on working his way up this list.

#6: Josh Harris, Captain F/V Cornelia Marie

Perhaps no captain on Deadliest Catch has had to endure the pain and pressure of carrying on a family legacy like Josh Harris, who took over as captain of the F/V Cornelia Marie after the sudden death of his father, Captain Phil Harris. Despite severe financial difficulties following his father’s passing, the younger Captain Harris has seemingly turned things around with an estimated worth of $800,000.

#7: Steve “Harley” Davidson, Captain F/V Southern Wind 

Captain Davidson is the newest cast member on Deadliest Catch; therefore, his wealth is unknown. However, the F/V Southern Wind is second only to F/V Wizard in terms of size and based on an industry-average crab fishing vessel captain’s salary of $200,000, one would think that Steve Davidson would easily clear that amount considering his compensation from appearing on the show.

Evidently, being captain of a crab fishing boat in the Bering Sea can be quite lucrative, especially if your boat happens to be featured on Deadliest Catch. Even if you and your boat toil in obscurity, with a six-figure annual salary while working three months out of a year, this may be a career choice worth considering for the adventurous or foolhardy.

How much do the crew members serving under the captains make?

Like their captains, the crewmembers on the boats featured on Deadliest Catch live and work on their vessels for three months out of the year.

On average, deckhands reportedly make around $13 to $14 per hour, which is not a jaw-dropping wage given the danger and back-breaking physical work inherent in the crabbing industry.

When you compare this hourly salary to the richest Deadliest Catch captains it really does pale into insignificance!

However, most deckhands also receive a percentage of the boat’s haul, which can translate to about $50,000 per person.

This is on top of what amounts to free room and board while they are on-board toiling the crab season away. Many deckhands work second or third jobs the remainder of the year, so their annual income potential is quite high.

Others rely solely upon their crab fishing earnings to allow them to pursue things like schooling or getting their captain’s license.

How to become a captain on a crab boat

A crab fishing vessel captain must navigate not only the perilous waters of the Bering Sea in pursuit of bill-paying bounty but also manage a crew of fierce personalities, many of whom aspire to sit in the captain’s chair.

While there is no surefire way to become a captain, one thing is certain: the captain must have the respect of the boat’s crew… only then could they go on to become one of the richest captains, like on the Deadliest Catch TV show.

Another unspoken rule is that a captain must work his or her way up the ladder from the bottom rung.  Captaincies are not merely handed out; they are earned either by hard work and determination or, in rare cases, created by tragic circumstances.

Here is a look at the current roster of Deadliest Catch captains and their work experience before earning the captain’s chair to become the wealthiest of skippers.

  • Captain Jake Anderson: A 4th generation fisherman, Jake Anderson started as a greenhorn under Sig Hansen on the F/V Northwestern. He worked his way up to full-share deckhand, then relief deck boss, before getting his first captaincy, which ended in utter failure. He returned to the F/V Northwestern, where he had to start over from square one.
  • Captain Keith Colburn: Keith Colburn experienced a rapid, seven-year rise from greenhorn to full-share deckhand to captain and then owner of the F/V Wizard.
  • Captain Steve “Harley” Davidson: Originally from Los Angeles, California, Steve Davidson was first exposed to the fishing life at age ten after his family relocated to Washington. The bulk of his life since has been devoted to fishing and commanding his boat.
  • Captain Sean Dwyer: The youngest of the Deadliest Catch captains, Sean Dwyer’s father was also a captain of a fishing boat. After serving as an engineer on sister boat F/V Jennifer A, Captain Dwyer fulfilled his father’s dying wish by captaining F/V Brenna A back on crabbing waters.
  • Captain Sig Hansen: Descended from a long line of Norwegian fishers, including those that founded the Alaskan fishing industry. At age 22, he became a relief captain on F/V Northwestern, and by 26, Sig Hansen earned a full captaincy.
  • Captain Josh Harris: The son of beloved Deadliest Catch captain Phil Harris who passed away unexpectedly, Josh Harris was thrown into the captain’s chair and tasked with managing the crew and turning a profit. He now co-owns the F/V Cornelia Marie.
  • Captain “Wild” Bill Wichrowski: Along with Sig Hansen, Bill Wichrowski is one of the elder statesmen of Deadliest Catch, having been a featured captain since 2010. Captain Wichrowski has been fishing the Bering Sea for over 20 years.

Final thoughts…

Since 2005, television audiences have tuned in to follow seven fishing vessel captains in their quest for crab in the dangerous waters of the Bering Sea. Deadliest Catch has millions of devoted fans around the world and has put a spotlight on what is arguably the world’s most dangerous profession.

Despite the high risk of injury and even death, crabbing is a highly sought-after job because of how well it pays, particularly for the captains.

They may not all be likable, but together they form an incredible ensemble of characters that have created years of compelling television drama.

The Deadliest Catch captains are the best at what they do, and they are well-compensated for their skill and efforts.  While they are credited for exposing the life of crabbers for millions to view, they have also revealed the monumental challenges they face, both at sea and in their own lives.

However, it can change very quickly, so keep your eyes on the new series as the richest captain on the Deadliest Catch could be different at the end of the new season!

You might also like…

Aside from finding out which Deadliest Catch captain is the richest, you might also like the following info: