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Buying fish in Alaska

USA
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Buying fish in Alaska

Hi,

I saw from some threads saying about "cannot buy fish out off the boat, but can purchase fish at some certain places, such as

J-Dock Seafoods..." So, I would like to start a new thread and ask about this question.

I checked couple websites for these seafood stores and the fish price was really high! For King Salmon is $19.99/pound. I think it's even higher than what I can get here (midwest). Either the ones sold in my local stores are not "true" alaska salmon, or, there must be some tricks to get cheaper fish while actually in alaska.

If we end up catching no fish and would like to buy some, where we should go? Fred Meyer's? or these seafood stores? Does it really taste that different to pay the big money? Does it worth it to ship some fish home?

Thanks a lot!

Marilyn

Englewood, Ohio
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1. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

Ah, Alaskan Salmon, it's truly the best. Generally, there are two species, King and Sockeye (red) sold. Sockeye is generally more plentiful and therefore less expensive. King salmon cost more, I am assuming due to supply. Personally, I like Sockeye better, but it's just a matter of personal taste I guess. But any fresh salmon is just delicious. But, save money and get the sockeye.

When and where do you plan to fish? If you're fishing Cooper Landing mid-June, then you're very likely to catch sockey, especially if you hire a guide. I can offer more fishing advice, but I really need more specifics.

Also, you may likely find Alaskan salmon at your local stores, but only in June. The rest of the year you only get Atlantic Salmon with red dye added, yuck. I only buy salmon in June and the Alaskan sockeye, aka, red, salmon.

Another place to buy fish, although not in Alaska, but in Seattle, is from a vendor at the Pike Place Market. http://www.pikeplacefish.com/default.html Fish are seasonal, you won't find Sockey till June. Anyhow, from this site, you can buy fish and have shipped to your home. Fish will be just as delicious. Otherwise, ask around while in Alaska where to buy fish to have shipped home.

North Bend, Oregon
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2. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

Adding to the above comments, many Many MANY things add to the price of fish here...

Is it King, Sockeye, Coho?

Fresh-Frozen? or has it been in a deep freeze for a year?

Troll-caught, netted, seined?

If you're going fishing with a guide, they should have a good arrangement with a processor to get your fish home. Most of the reputable processors also handle commercial fish, and have no problem selling you a few extra pounds to supplement your catch. If you didn't catch anything at all, the guide's favorite processor can probably still sell you what you'd like (and then maybe find a different guide for the next trip!)

Without starting a political hot-topic/debate here, the vast majority of seafood (and oil) in Alaska is harvested by non-Alaskans and taken out of the state. It's no wonder our groceries and gas stations have to charge more for the products that come from here... it leaves as raw or fresh product, and we get the pre-processed products back for sale after a few weeks to a month.

Catching your own is the way to go!

-Case

Anchorage, Alaska
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3. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

Hi Marilyn,

I have great confidence that you will catch fish, but in case you want more I would recommend a small chain in Ancorage called New Sagiya. The one I have been to is on Old Seward Highway between 36th and Tudor streets. They carry lots of seasonal local seafood and frequently have specials advertised on the radio. Last summer they had local Sockeye (Red salmon) and Coho (Silver salmon) for $3.88/lbs whole fish. This also includes free filet service if you like. If I didn't already have over 250lbs of salmon, halibut and ling cod to bring home I would have picked some up. It all looked fresh and good quality, so I will be picking some up this summer if I don't get out to fish.

I am sure you can buy from Carrs (Safeway), or Fred Meyers but I don't think their prices or quality will be as good. New Sagiya is more like a fish market than a traditional grocery store. They even sell live clams, mussels, oysters, and the like. I was impressed by what I saw and I spent many years cruising at Pike Street Market in Seattle. This might even be cheaper than getting it off a boat.

I haven't found a fish processor to vaccum pack and freeze these filets in Anchorage yet, but I have been told there are a few that can do this. It isn't as nice an option as bringing home your own fish, but can certainly be obtained cheaper than buying back home and you know the quality of hat you are eating.

I hope this helps,

- Kery

Skagway, Alaska
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4. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

Actually there are five species of salmon found in Alaskan waters and they usually start showing up to spawn in May.

pink salmon, which is deemed least desirable by some

chum salmon, which smokes up well

red salmon, which has a very natural red flesh

silver salmon which is a very sporty fish to catch

king salmon which is the largest of the five

And the Steelhead which is really just a saltwater rainbow trout is sometimes classified salmonoid!

The only one of the first five which can be caught all year, is the king, which is usually troll caught comercially by a very hardy breed called handtrollers, who venture out in the winter risking life against the bitter elements to catch this elusive fish. So, if you are lucky enough to find some of this fish for sale at twenty a pound, you should at least kiss the fishmonger (and maybe the fish if it seems fresh enough) because it is a lot like this coffee which I am just now drinking, a bit of research tells me that two bucks a pound wouldn't pay the pickers of the green beans if it were growing where decent wages prevail, never mind the rest of the complcated process which brings this elixer to my cup....I digress.....

The Scottish heritage in me decides to share a bit of inside info with you argonauts who are coming this way, in the fair weather just ahead, and would like to save a bit and still carry home some of the treasure to be found around these here parts.

In Skagway, it will be as easy as a left turn off of trinket alley on Fifth Ave. and a half block down on the left you will find Dijon Delites which is a tiny outlet store for a local smoker of all five of the species and also they have smoked halibut! It won't seem cheap even there, unless you factor in that the smoking process removes up to half of the weight of the fish and none of the flavor, leaving you with about the most reasonable price and a neat packaged product which can be carried back to the boat and back to your home even in your suitcase if you want to save the cost of shipping! They even have free samples if you would like to try before you buy! Just do not mention that you know me or Wilma will probably pull the sample tray like she does every time I venture in there. And I happen to be one of their most frequent "customers", especially if they have any new help in the spring!?!

A charter is probably the next up in the order of frugal fishing where the average price per pound of fish can sometimes be held under 100 dollars per pound if you have an exceptional day!

I own my own boat, down here in the harbor, and if I calculate all costs, any fish I catch from that boat is probably going to run close to the thousand dollar per pound limit which I try to meet with some limited success!?!

I know that when the first halibut boat of the season came in here last week, I was very happy to line up with other locals to pay five dollars per pound, for fish in the round, to my neighbor who brought them back to us only a day late because they blew out a window on the boat trying to round a point in dicey weather, on the first attempt to return to port.

And how much is that quart of blueberries worth which we hike from sealevel up to four thosand feet to procur?

Seward,Alaska
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5. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

The 3 large commercial processers in Seward aren't allowed to sell to the public. The majority of commercially caught fish goes to Japan or the lower 48.

Most locals get it themselves so they don't purchase in stores. I've noticed that you will pay alot more in Ak stores than your large grocery chain at home.

I think it's only worth shipping fish home if you've caught it yourself. It will still cost alot more than paying for it in the store at home. Your cheapest way is if you buy a cooler, have the fish vacuum packed/frozen and check it as luggage when you fly home.

My favorite is halibut and silver salmon(coho). Kings are too strong tasting for me unless it's been smoked.

Good luck fishing!

Manitoba, Canada
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6. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

"And how much is that quart of blueberries worth which we hike from sealevel up to four thosand feet to procur?"

Probably nothing--because you guys ate them all on the way down! :-))

DD, great post--informative and entertaining, as always!

USA
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7. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

Thank you to all of you!

I always learn a lot of things whenever I visit here! Very informative and helpful.

By the time we get to Kenai pennisula (according to our plan right now), it will be the first week of July, and I am sure we can see a lot of fish there.

Will definitely visit the New Sagaya(?) market in ANC. Thanks again!

8. Re: Buying fish in Alaska

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