Caring for your Catch
Fishing is our way of life
For not only the Slagle family, but for most Southeast Alaskans.
The time we spend with friends and family, the thrill of the catch, and the experience of spending a day out on the water are memories that last forever. Knowing this, we're aware just how important your own fishing experience is. To that end, we take pride in ensuring great care is taken to preserve the quality of your catch, as most of your haul has quite a journey ahead before it lands on your dinner plate.
Once your fish is on board, your captain will immediately bleed your catch to reduce bacterial spoilage and protect the look and flavor of the meat. With salmon caught that are still feeding, dressing the fish will then be accomplished by removing the viscera of the salmon. Finally, your fish will be packed in ice internally (when cleaned immediately), as well as externally. Reducing the temperature of the meat as soon as practical, in conjunction with bleeding and dressing, ensures that enzymatic damage and bacterial spoilage is minimized. Watching all this done in the first five minutes of landing a Coho will enable you to proclaim with authority that the fish you're serving your dinner guests is the highest quality they've ever had.
Once you fill your fish box and return to our marina, your haul will be processed immediately. To avoid the possibility that any of your fish ends up on someone else's plate, you'll take a minute to fill out a tracking form with your guide that segregates your catch from that of other guests. Your catch is then placed in a numbered tote and delivered to our team to be hand-processed. Your tracking form will follow your fish throughout this process and all species are cleaned as a specific work order by one or more of our team to your custom specifications. It is then vacuum sealed and flash frozen for shipment.
One consideration you'll want to think about is the smoking of some of your salmon. Here in Alaska, smoked salmon can almost be considered a form of currency, and we highly recommend you don't leave our home without it. You have a few options for procuring smoked Alaskan salmon. The easiest way, obviously, is to purchase it from any cannery, gift shop, corner store, gas station, coffee stand, back-alley pusher, hawker, street vendor, police officer, or other public official. Seriously, it seems EVERYONE in Southeast Alaska smokes their own salmon, and does it better than their neighbor. If you came to Alaska during the salmon season the same folks that carved up the rest of your catch will be able to have it smoked for you as soon as it's processed. For those that smoke meat back home, or even those that have never tried, there are personal smoking options available. For under a hundred bucks you can get a Big Chief smoker and a bag of alder woodchips and follow a simple recipe to cook it exactly to your liking.
Many customers wonder how much fish they will, or can, take back with them. Our answer; "Only as much as you're gonna eat." We find that a 50 lb. box of fillets will get a couple through winter until their next trip to Alaska. The first law passed by the Alaska State legislature in 1959 was the outlawing of fish trap use in our waters. This illustrates perfectly the mindset of our state when it comes to the protection of our environment, and stewardship of one of our most precious resources. To that end we encourage guests in Alaska clear out a lot of freezer space before they head north and be prepared to care for their fish as well as we do. While there are daily limits to how much you can catch, how much you leave here with is predicated on how long you spend on the water.
Bleeding your Catch
"Bleeding a fish" is exactly what it sounds like. When your fish tastes or smells "fishy," it's because it has already begun to spoil.
Cooling your Catch
We all know that we put food in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling, but what does the cold temperature actually do?
Bacteria, Enzymes, and Damage
The three most common causes of low quality fish are bacterial growth, enzymatic breakdown, and physical contamination or damage. However, with proper handling and care, all three are manageable.
Sport Fishing - Processing
Sitting down for a dinner party of Alaskan seafood, the first stories you tell about the fish your guests are eating won't be of how it was dressed, filleted, and packaged.
The care for your catch starts the minute you land your fish. The process for each species can differ slightly, but for the most part your fish will be bled, dressed, and iced as soon as possible to minimize any adverse effects prior to freezing.