View Full Version : Suggestions for transport and storage of Fresh Alaskan Salmon

08-10-2010, 10:40 PM
So, I leave for Alaska on Sunday. I have been there before so this is not a new experience. However, this is the first time I will be going with the plan to smoke the salmon that I catch. In years past I have only taken a small portion of what we catch as a group since I am single (money and free time saving mod) and the rest of the guys are married and have kids. If they were going to put it to good use then that was great by me.

The first year we came back with 400+ pounds of sockeye and coho. That year we just froze the filets in ziplocks. It worked alright but some of the meat did get freezer burn over time. In following years we have tried different techniques including a vacuum sealer. Needless to say, vacuum sealing several hundered pounds of filets was a chore and not always easy when our only power source was the cigarette lighter in our vehicle. This year we are thinking of just getting it frozen to survive the flight home and then vacuum sealing once we are back.

Now to my question(s). Does anyone have any suggestions or comments on this process or tips on things we can do differently? In the past, as I said, I was not all that concerned about preservation as the portion I got was fairly small and I usually used it quickly. From the perspective of smoking the fish, are there any things I should consider doing differently? I have also heard that fish with freezer burn will still turn out alright once smoked. Is this true?

If you have never been up there, I highly suggest that everyone gets up to Alaska at some point in their life. There is no other place like it (in the U.S. at least). I even attached a few pics from years past (jealously mod :mad2:). Sorry I do not have my photobucket account setup yet. Quick descriptions: Box of Silvers (coho), Good sized Silver by Valdez, Morphed (cool looking but bad eating) sockeye on a river, and some prawn pr0n of some shrimp we were catching.

Thanks in advance for any input.

08-10-2010, 10:54 PM
I've been to Alasks twice and you are correct in saying everyone should visit that great state. If your looking to freeze and ship your fish just contact your airline they can set you up with doing it.

08-11-2010, 01:42 AM
I have used the local fish packers they pack it to the size you want freeze it and box it in sealed boxes you can check as luggage. Kept some for near a year no proublems.

08-11-2010, 02:12 AM
Been there a 1/2 dozen times. We have the fish processed, vacuum packed, then put in boxes and sent home with us on the plane. As Airmec said, it last all year long. If you ask, they will separate the belly's and any cheek meat from the halibut.

08-11-2010, 02:31 AM
Man that looks like an amazing time. Fully jealous!!! I don't have any tips for you. Just had to comment on this!!


08-11-2010, 06:42 AM
Can you tell more about the shrimp harvesting?
I wasn't aware or ever thought about Alaskan shrimp.:icon_blush:

08-11-2010, 08:51 AM
Thanks for the input. As far as bringing the fish back, we always just bring coolers/fish boxes on the plane as our checked baggage and ship all of our gear home USPS. Depending on your airline and their baggage fees, it works out to about $1/lb. This year actually I am flying Midwest/Frontier and they are running a promotion where the first bag is $20 and the second is $1. So, for $21 I can bring 100lbs on the plane.

Mostly I was looking for any comments or tips as far as whether there as anything I should do differently when storing the salmon. i.e. some people wrap the filets in paper towels before placing in the freezer bag to reduce the moisture. Things like this that might help preserve the meat a bit longer. I realize that I can have the fish processed but usually we do these trips on the cheap. Especially this year as this trip was not intentional. I happened to stumble upon an airfare deal in May and we got roundtrip flights from KC to Anchorage for $242 per person total. Hard to pass that up.

As far as the shrimp, I will try to dig up a photo later. Basically, you have a shrimp pot very similar to the crab pots you see on Deadliest Catch but only about 2' x 2' x 8". Basically, you place some cat food in a tupperware container with holes in it in the middle of the pot along with some fish carcuses. Drop it along a rocky bottom of the ocean usually 300-600' deep. Let it soak for 8 hours and then haul it in. Its some work but very rewarding and the shrimp are huge.

08-11-2010, 09:16 AM
Yeah, vacusuck it when you get home. A friend of mine used to send me a shioment a year frozen and packed in dry ice. When I've been there, I've hard smoked the fish on site, and shipped it back frozen.

Never really had much of a problem with freezer burn on my fish..if it's not too bad
then it should smoke alright. If you're worried about it, tho', you can soak the
fish overnight in milk. That'll bring it back. Just give it a good rinse and into the
brine or salt mixture.

08-11-2010, 09:21 AM
Check this out.


D.F. Expat
08-11-2010, 10:29 AM
I go ocean fishing all the time, what we do to preserve it is filet the fish but don't skin it, also rinse it in sea water not tap water as we have found for some reason, (posibly the chlorine?) if we use tap water the fish is more mushy when defrosted and doesnt last as long. After that add a piece of paper towel or napkin to the vacum seal bag near the top to absorb moisture and allow for a better seal. Using those step[s I have had fish last over a year no problem.

08-11-2010, 10:37 AM
When we went we contacted a local place, they packaged, flash froze, placed in coolers with dry ice and shipped back for us. When we arrived back home the fish was sitting on the porch waiting for us.

08-11-2010, 12:12 PM
When we went we contacted a local place, they packaged, flash froze, placed in coolers with dry ice and shipped back for us. When we arrived back home the fish was sitting on the porch waiting for us.

Yeah, that is a nice way to do it but what did it cost you? Also, this is great if you are in Valdez or Seward or some other town but we do a lot of fishing on rivers in the interior. We looked into it a couple years ago and it was silly expensive. I believe it was like $200 for 40lbs. Maybe more. At that point its cheaper to just buy the overpriced salmon from the grocery store. Bringing it back as checked luggage will only cost me $.42/lb. If I should have more than 100lbs to bring back then the third checked bag is $50 raising the cost up to $.47/lb for 150lbs.

I like the idea of using the paper towel. I believe we did do that one year and it worked well. Plus that is the easiest to do when we are camping on a river far from a town.

08-11-2010, 12:29 PM
Can you tell more about the shrimp harvesting?
I wasn't aware or ever thought about Alaskan shrimp.:icon_blush:

Here are a few pics of our shrimp gear. It is becoming more popular and with some research you can find places that rent the pots. One pic shows an octopus that snuck in.

08-11-2010, 12:44 PM
I go every year and lived there a few years also. For long term freezing, we have found that wrapping them in plastic wrap before vacu sucking works wonders! If you plan on smoking a big bunch when you get home, gallon ziplocks work fine. Then you can smoke those when you get home and vacu seal portions and freeze.They seem to do quite well, even with the double freezing. Hope this helps.