October in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, means only one thing: king crab season. Bering Sea weather reports warn of a massive storm and some of the roughest seas the fleet has seen in years, and the captains must decide whether to shove off or batten down.
January in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, finds the fishermen returning to their boats for the opilio crab fishing season. They prep their boats, bait and supplies with the hope that this season will be even more productive than the last.
The Rollo and the Maverick race back to the crab grounds after heavy offloads on St. Paul Island, but the Rollo's captain is cross with his crew after miscalculations result in 40,000 more pounds of crab than scheduled. The Cornelia Marie offloads an injured deckhand and must finish out their season one man down. Fishing cod before crab pays off for the Northwestern; they entered the season late, but they're on the crab and pulling up huge numbers.
The captains take advantage of rare, calm weather on the Bering Sea to drop their pots for king crab fishing. But there's an impending storm, and while Sig weighs the risks of fishing vs. running, Johnathan decides that the Time Bandit will fish through the storm. Meanwhile, the Cornelia Marie limps back to Dutch Harbor on one engine for repairs while the storm nips at its heels.
In spite of a torrential downpour and a blinding snowstorm, the crews push on as they fish for Alaskan king crab. A broken crane slows down the Northwestern, the Rollo keeps pulling up female crabs, which are illegal to keep and must be thrown back, and the Cornelia Marie's string of good luck quickly runs out as the boat is plagued by another mechanical problem.
After a profitable offload on Akutan Island, Captain Sig Hansen and the Northwestern crew are back on the trail of Alaskan king crab. Meanwhile, the crew of the Maverick sees a possible change in command, and the Aleutian Ballad is forced to take a greenhorn back to Dutch Harbor.
The Aleutian Ballad is knocked on its side by a vicious wave, stripping the ship of power and leaving the crew scrambling in the dark. Meanwhile, the exhausted crews of the Time Bandit, the Maverick and the Rollo endure rough weather.
Amid an Arctic storm, the Time Bandit pushes on with a limited amount of bait, and the Rollo and the Maverick drop their pots quickly to avoid rolling. With the frustrated Cornelia Marie stuck in port, the Northwestern sticks with successful cod instead of fishing for opilio crab.
Bad crab and long days fray nerves and cause fights on the Maverick and the Rollo. The trailblazing Time Bandit presses north into the Arctic onslaught, and Sig Hansen wakes from a short nap to find the Northwestern lost after Edgar sits on wheel watch.
The Time Bandit finds their ice pack as the Rollo fishes through gnarly weather. The crew of the Maverick must work through a shipwide flu epidemic while the Cornelia Marie has trouble finding their crab. The Northwestern moves on from cod to opilio crab.
Freezing weather and severe icing claim their first victim on the Cornelia Marie when a deckhand takes a spill. The Time Bandit navigates the northern ice pack, and deckhands are forced to take breaks from fishing to beat thousands of pounds of icy buildup from every inch of steel. The crews on the Maverick attempt to jury-rig a shattered stiff arm.
Facing the end of the season, the fleet is scrambling to the deep and pushing the fishing into overdrive. The Maverick does some precision fishing on the ridges of ocean floor cliffs, and the Northwestern continues pulling up massive pots. But with full holds and iced-over decks full of pots, the risk of tipping over while steaming back to port is high.