Another dose of reality: Coupeville’s Keohane grows wiser in second season of television series

Gavin Keohane of Coupeville is one of four boat captains featured in the reality television series, ‘Alaska Fish Wars,’ which starts its second season Jan. 13. - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Gavin Keohane of Coupeville is one of four boat captains featured in the reality television series, ‘Alaska Fish Wars,’ which starts its second season Jan. 13.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

If he were a traditional actor, Gavin Keohane might be able to say he’s becoming more seasoned in front of a television camera.

But Keohane is no actor, he’s a fishing boat captain.

Still, in the world of reality TV, what’s important is that he has a strong camera presence, is articulate and can weave together a good tale for viewers.

Keohane, a 33-year-old commercial fisherman from Coupeville, has impressed the producers of a cable television series enough on all fronts to remain a part of a select cast.

Keohane will star again in Alaska Fish Wars, which will air the first episode of its second season at 7 p.m. Pacific time Jan. 13 on the National Geographic Wild channel.

He recently returned home to Coupeville to visit family over the holidays and shared some insight on the show, reality TV in general and his hope to start selling fresh Alaska salmon through direct marketing.

Keohane said production beefed up for the second season of Alaska Fish Wars, which was filmed during about a dozen days of salmon fishing in July in Cook Inlet.

Keohane, who pilots the North Crow, is one of four boat captains featured in the series with each trying to catch the most salmon during a three-week season.

This season, the show has added another young skipper while cutting loose one of the veterans from last year.

Keohane and deckhand Chris Cotter again find themselves matching wits against more senior captains with faster vessels and more sophisticated equipment.

Last year, Keohane was depicted as a rookie captain making some rookie mistakes, including one morning of oversleeping and missing high tide to get his boat out to sea.

He isn’t entirely sure what the final production will look like in this season’s six episodes or what will get edited out of the series.

“It’s a fairly accurate show,” Keohane said of what transpires on the boat and in the editing room.

“We probably didn’t do the best everyday or on any given day but we came out well.”

Keohane, a 1999 Coupeville High School graduate who went on to earn business and economic degrees and play basketball at Occidental College in Los Angeles, fishes five months a year in Alaska whether it be for cod, shrimp, halibut or salmon.

He’s a third generation commercial salmon fisherman, learning the trade from his parents Tim and Paula Keohane, who both skippered fishing boats in Alaska.

Keohane said he’s never spent a summer away from Alaskan waters and the story goes that he learned to crawl in a fishing boat.

What he’s learned more recently is how to manage himself with a cameraman shadowing his every move.

Each boat has a single cameraman onboard as well as remote cameras set in various locations.

Keohane said he learned a lot from Sean Stack, the Los Angeles producer who filmed him on the North Crow the past two seasons.

“The format in which you talk is different,” Keohane said. “I had a great cameraman. He taught me how to speak to the camera in ways that they can use.”

Keohane learned to phrase questions, then answer them, while sounding natural.

“Gavin’s a really smart guy,” said Stack. “He understands that ultimately we do need to tell a story. He was always very helpful in letting me know what’s happening, so I can get the story. I’m not a fisherman. I learn everything about their world through research and being out with the guys.”

Keohane said he doesn’t know if Alaska Fish Wars will continue after this season, or if his brief reality TV fame will fade.

He said he is stopped from time to time by someone who recognizes him.

“You’d be surprised who watches these things,” he said.

On Jan. 13, one surprise might be who doesn’t.

Alaska Fish Wars opens on the same night of Keohane’s mother’s birthday. His dad made dinner reservations in Seattle, not knowing at the time that the show opened on that date.

“At this point, there is no formal commitment on what we’re going to do,” Tim Keohane said.

Last year, Tim and Paula Keohane attended a premiere party hosted by friends on Whidbey Island, then went to a season-ending gathering at the Ballard Smoke Shop.

“That’s where many of the bar scenes from Deadliest Catch are filmed,” Tim Keohane said, speaking about Alaska’s hit reality TV series on the Discovery Channel.

Chances are, one way or another, they’ll catch their son’s show.

He’s their only child, and their pride in him stretches as wide as Cook Inlet.

Keohane, who’s been captaining his own boat since 2003, is looking to tackle a new adventure soon.

He is exploring ways to sell his fish directly to buyers on the west coast. He said he believes he can sell his fish at a competitive price with assurances of quality and authenticity. He said not all fish arrives to buyers as advertised, which has created some distrust in the marketplace.

“There’s definitely some room for some trust,” he said.


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