Our first fishing trip of the season came back in yesterday, meaning I finally caught sight of a gorgeous salmon. Up to that point, my prior experience with fish was pointing through the grocer’s window at a random steak, generally having no idea what I was ordering or what set it apart from a goldfish fillet. Let’s just say that my behind-the-scenes fishing knowledge is lacking, but I plan on changing that while I work for Alaska Premier Charters, Inc.
I caught up with our fishing guest after he returned to shore and asked him to show me how big of a salmon he’d reeled in. I’d already seen the huge salmon, but I wanted to test the exaggeration of a fisherman. I’ve always heard that fisherman can definitely spin some yarns. He spread his arms wide and I let out a smirk at how cavalier he was. He didn’t exaggerate too much though; he had caught a whopper, especially in my eyes.
I look forward to my turn behind the reel and hopefully I can draw out some of the big ones lurking beneath the surface. Besides, my father and brother back in New Hampshire, are considered the experienced anglers of the family and I really want to show them up with something about three times the size of the fish they normally catch.
As per my usual routine of doing whatever I can to help out, I was immediately thrown into the “P.R,” or Processing Room, to try my hand at vacuum sealing the guest’s salmon and halibut. The crew was already well under way so I jumped right into the fray to give them a hand. I was very surprised to see the extreme organization and procedure that went on in the P.R. Everything had an order to it; first the catch had to be filleted or steaked depending on the client’s wishes, then it was rinsed, placed in a giant strainer, and finally vacuum sealed for freezing.
Vacuum sealing is now my specialty as Captain Mike and his deckhand went through the process step by step with me. First, a piece of fish is placed in a plastic pouch, the open ends of which are then gathered together and pulled tight to reduce the wrinkling and provide a better seal.
The bag is then placed over a seal bar that effectively melts the two pieces together as the air is being sucked out, which result is a very thin and perfectly packaged meal. The packaging is inspected for any faults and imperfections before being placed on a large plastic tray, skin side down, for a thorough freeze. Even the trays are marked with the group name of the angler who caught the fish; there is no margin for error in how the processing goes. All in all, our guest got a professionally processed box of his own catch to take home and enjoy.