‘Deadliest Catch’: Wild Bill’s Greatest Catch Came Amid a Dangerous Tropical Storm

by Shelby Scott

We’ve heard some wild stories and tales over 18 seasons of Deadliest Catch. However, one of the wildest stories might be Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski’s. Reflecting on some of the Summer Bay‘s most memorable outings, the Deadliest Catch star’s greatest catch also took place during a nasty tropical storm.

Crab fishermen work in one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. The fishing vessel’s giant crab pots alone pose a major risk to the crew members’ safety. In fact, recently, the crab pots on Deadliest Catch‘s the Patricia Lee were responsible for injuring a second crew member after previously claiming the life of a 30-year-old deckhand.

Turning back to Captain Wild Bill’s wildest tale, however, his most intense encounter didn’t even involve crabs. Instead, during a June 2020 interview, the Deadliest Catch star revealed his most intense encounter came when he caught a 500-pound fish. As exciting as that sounds, he hooked the fish while navigating the waters around Panama during an extremely intense tropical storm.

“While we were fighting the fish,” Wichrowski said, per Looper, “this huge storm engulfed us and lightning was hitting the water around the boat. It was raining so hard. The boat was actually filling with water.”

The Deadliest Catch captain also revealed that the situation was actually much more perilous than we might initially believe. In addition, the gear used to reel the fish in was strapped to himself rather than a chair.

“I didn’t know that we were going to make it in alive because lightning doesn’t play,” he concluded.

‘Deadliest Catch’ Crab Pots Are the Most Dangerous Part of the Job

As mentioned above, the crabbing vessel’s massive crab pots are one of the most dangerous aspects of the job. That said, they’re also completely necessary.

Each crab pot that we see on every episode of Deadliest Catch weighs a massive 700 pounds. The huge pots occupy a steel boat that stretches over 120 feet in length. To maneuver the crab pots in and out of the icy waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea, crew members man hydraulic cranes. Each time, we see them skillfully drop the pots to the ocean floor before hauling them up to the deck.

The crew members that we see on Deadliest Catch each week are, for the most part, well steeped in the operation of the crane and crab pots. However, on occasion accidents happen and they can potentially have fatal results.

Earlier this season, Patricia Lee deckhand Francis Kotungin had to be evacuated via helicopter transport after an incident involving a pot. The Coast Guard had to evacuate Kotungin from the vessel after a crab pot crushed him and left him with serious injuries. A year earlier, deckhand Todd Kochutin passed away after suffering a similar experience.

What also intensifies the crab pots’ danger are the ropes that aid in bringing them down to the deck. Each pot has slack rope. And, on occasion, that slack can get wrapped around a deckhand’s limbs and pull them into the sea.