I did it. I took a job as a deckhand on a commercial salmon boat in Alaska next month.
And guess what? You’ll be able to buy salmon I had a hand in catching!
Here’s how it happened. Last year, my friend Tyson Fick and I hauled some old-school commercial salmon trolling gear. A few years before that, I got a taste of gillnetting salmon with the folks at Copper River Salmon. I was, as they say, hooked.
In my younger days, I’d worked as a deckhand aboard charter and party boats, and did a little commercial fishing too. Enough to love the job — and deeply respect how much work it is putting fish on America’s table.
Tyson, who used to work for the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers and Alaska Seafood, felt the same siren song. So he bought the Heather Anne, a gillnetter based out of his home port of Juneau. He hooked up with a salmon collective called Taku River Reds, which sells ultra-premium salmon to both restaurants and consumers all over North America.
Tyson asked me if I wanted to help him out for coho (silver) salmon season in August. Even though I am in the midst of an almost year-long book tour, I jumped at the chance. Oh hell yes! So shall it be said, so shall it be done. I can’t wait to get on the boat!
Here’s how Taku River Reds works.
It starts with the salmon. Every fish that comes out of the nets gets bled on the spot. Then, once the net is set again, my job will be to gut every fish, remove the head and gills, scrape the kidney, and then pressure bleed each fish.
This last step is key. Pressure bleeding fish removes all the blood from the carcass, and doing so eliminates that weird “salmon stink” you get when you cook salmon indoors. It also helps preserve the fish, so they can remain unfrozen longer. If you’ve ever had Copper River salmon, it’s like that; they pressure bleed, too.
When we have orders, we can offload our fish to a tender boat, which can then process and ship fish within hours.
All this allows us to be able to ship pristine salmon all over North America, either fresh or flash frozen. It’s not crazy to say that if you bought salmon from us, we could have caught it less than 24 hours before it arrives at your door. It doesn’t get much better than that.
We’ll mostly be catching coho, or silver salmon, but there should be some sockeye, pink, and maybe a few pretty kings and chum salmon here and there, all depending on what shows up in the nets, and what species are open at the moment.
Want in on this? Here’s how to buy our salmon:
Market prices fluctuate, but a ballpark price is about $7 a pound for coho salmon, about $7.40 a pound for sockeye. This is for whole fish without the head. You need to buy a minimum of 25 pounds, which is about three nice cohos, or about four sockeyes. Shipping is extra, and I’ll be honest, it ain’t cheap — but you’ll be getting some of the finest quality salmon available anywhere.
You can fill out this order form online, or call Taku River Reds at 907/419-1309.
Wish me luck out there! It’ll be an adventure. Once I am up in Juneau, follow me on Instagram to see how the fishing is going. I’ll be posting as often as I can.