What do I do with my Salmon?

When folks contact us about setting up a fishing package one of the most commonly asked questions is, “what do I do with my salmon?”

No worries it’s easy, hopefully this post will clarify and answer questions you may have.

On the Water

Once you have your salmon in the net it’s time to bleed out the fish.  Some people like to “bonk” the fish on the head to stun it.  We like to just cut the gills on both sides, this method seems to do a great job of getting all the blood out since the heart is still pumping.  Bonking then bleeding sometimes leaves the fish full of coagulated blood making the fillet and cleaning process a pain.  Excessive blood on the fillet will leave a not so great taste on the meat.

At the Fillet Table

Your guide should and better know how to properly fillet a fish.  The most important thing here is to not rinse the fillet off in the water.  If there is blood or excessive slime use a knife to scrape the fillet clean or use a paper towel to blot the fillet clean.  An old timer told us washing the fillet in water breaks down the meat, litterally washing the flavor out of the fish.  How much truth to that idea we don’t know, but have followed that practice and have had no problems.  Besides we have seen people wash fillets off in some pretty questionable water. After the fish is filleted put it into a garbage bag and throw that into a cooler with ice.  Never put ice directly on the fish.

Vacuum Packing and Freezing

Finding a fish processor in your area should be pretty easy.  If you are fishing out of the Soldotna area Ed’s Kasilof and Custom Seafoods are the top two.  The processor will vac pac your fish, freeze it, store it, and if needed Fed Ex your fish home.  However, if you go this route there is obviously a price.  Fed Exing fish home can get pretty expensive, we suggest buying a cooler or fish box and taking it with you on the plane any additional baggage costs will be cheaper than Fed Ex.  Properly frozen and packed fish will stay frozen for easily 24 hrs.  

Some lodges have thier own vacuum sealer, typically you pay for the bags and freezer space.  This is a great option and usually a touch cheaper than the processors.  But, this process can be a bit time consuming depending on how much fish you have.  One trick that we use when processing fish is to wrap the fillet in plastic wrap then vac seal it.  This technique will help protect the fillet from freezer burn if the vac seal breaks.

Tying it Together

Whether it’s your first trip to Alaska or hundredth these techniques will streamline your post river process and ensure you have the best quality fish when you get home.