Last week on an evening walk through of Kodiak’s St Herman’s Harbor, in the center of town, there was an air of excitement and anticipation that happens
every summer right before the opening of salmon season. Diesel engines were humming, nets were being wound through the blocks and the lead lines and
corks sorted and stacked. There is something remarkably different about salmon season. No other fishing season begins with such eagerness, excitement
and hope. Now that the days are longer, the buzzing around the harbor continues until late in the evening.
Salmon fishing still attracts young men and women from “down south” or the “Lower 48” who come up to Kodiak to fish and earn money, but also for adventure
in the remote wilderness. Salmon fishing is also very much a family operation as sons and daughters accompany their fathers and mothers on the boats,
often running the seine skiffs at a very young age. It is not unusual for Kodiak kids to go out fishing in their early teens, in fact one of our boys
went out as a relief crew when he was 13. He did have his 18 year old brother watching over him to keep Mum from worrying too much!
While Kodiak salmon doesn’t have the name cache of Copper River salmon, the area produces a mix of sockeye, chum, king, pink and silver salmon. Sockeye
arrive in early June and this year is already showing promise for a good season as early river escapement numbers are showing strong returns up the
Karluk river on the West side of the Island. No quotas are set for salmon, however, the State of Alaska does set escapement goals to ensure enough
fish are allowed up river to spawn and produce future generations of fish. In the early season, fishermen catch chum and a few king salmon. Kodiak
is not known for its large King runs. By early July a few pink salmon begin to show and by mid to late July, pink salmon show up in large numbers.
The State of Alaska changes over from sockeye management to pink management in early July. Salmon season usually wraps up by late August or early September.
Now two days after the season opened, the harbor is virtually empty as the boats are all out fishing around the Island. Often the seiners fish the capes,
hoping to intercept the sockeye on their journey towards Karluk River or other small bays and streams.
Here is a picture of Captain Chris Trosvig on the Grayling, hauling his gear. Although it is a smaller boat than the 58 foot limit seiners, the Grayling
is always one of the top boats in the fleet.
This year the first sockeye were delivered into the processing plants within twenty four hours after the season opening. Most of the sockeye were flown
off the island to restaurants and grocery stores on the west coast and east coast. At Kodiak Fish Market, we hand select the fish coming off the line
for our fillet customers. The fish is filleted and then run through a machine that pulls the pin bones which are the small bones at the head end of
the fillet. Sockeye fillets are distinguished by their bright red color and mild flavor.
At a dinner the other night, we served both sockeye and a white king salmon. The usual conversation ensued over which was the best – the sockeye or the king salmon. This is also a question we get regularly and the answer is simply, they are both wonderful! My wife prefers King salmon, I prefer sockeye!
Our out of town guests couldn’t decide which they liked better – both were delicious. King salmon tends to be higher in oil content so it is more moist
than sockeye. King is perfect for grilling because it handles the heat well. Sockeye is less oily, so it is important not to overcook, but the flavor
is delicate and mild and the fillets are great for grilling or baking.
For the month of June, Kodiak Fish Market is offering a 10% discount on all sockeye orders over 5 lbs – use the discount code SOCKEYE when checking out.
Call if you have any questions (907-942-3497) or email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you
decide on which salmon is your favorite. Stay tuned for our next blog about Dr. Partha Nandi. Kodiak Fish Market is working with the “Ask Dr. Nandi”
show which is a nationally syndicated health and wellness show on the Impact Channel on Dish Network to feature healthy choices of seafood. We are
excited to feature recipes and discussion on the health benefits of our Alaskan seafood.
All the best
Kodiak Fish Market
P.S. Here are a couple of simple recipes that we use with sockeye and King salmon.
Sockeye with Pesto
1 sockeye fillet
– Wash filet and dry
– Place in aluminum foil skin side down
– Spread pesto across fillet
– Sprinkle with feta cheese
– Bake in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes or cook on the grill until the fillet starts to flake
– Don’t overcook
Sockeye with Lemon and Onions
1 sockeye fillet
Salt and Pepper
– Wash fillet and dry
– Place in aluminum foil skin down
– Place lemon slices and onion slices over the top of the fillet
– Season to taste
– Bake in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes or cook on the grill until fillet starts to flake
– Don’t overcook.