Past the Peak

Emily Lints
Thanks to so many people for getting orders in!  We do still have shares left, so just let us know if you'd like some Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon this year. IMG_0813 It's been a busy couple weeks for Kyle, JP and Brock aboard the Northland.  After waiting for the fish the arrive, the fish came on strong.  What was predicted to be a mediocre run turned out to be about 30% better than expected and Kyle's choice to drop his permit card in Naknek proved to be a wise one.  Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulates the fishery and decides when and where fishing is allowed.  With a lot of fish returning to the river boats were given two fishing periods a day and Kyle reported only having 2 one hour naps a day for a period of time and not knowing if it was day or night when awaking.  (It's still mostly all light up here in Alaska!)  For his first year in a new place Kyle is pleased with the fish he caught, whether battling it out on the boundary line of the district with all the big, fancy boats, or exploring for fish on his own up north in the sand bars.  Brock and JP asked Emily to ship out special knee pads so they could bleed each and every fish that came on board.  That's a lot of work to make sure we can offer you the best quality salmon! Sadly Brock re-injured an old rotator cuff tear and flew back to Washington this evening.  Thanks for all your hard work Brock!  We hope it heals up soon.  Kyle and JP are still fishing, waiting to see if more fish are on their way or if the run is over.  Some years the run is condensed and ends suddenly, while other years there's a long, steady decline. There are so many variables with fishing- from the weather, to the amount of fish that return, to how well your boat runs, to what's happening in the global market.  You never know until it's all over and then the speculation over the next year begins (yes, this is gambling at its finest ;).

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Fishing is on, where are the fish!?

Emily Lints

image(1) An old Bristol Bay boat. Did we mention that the Bay was fished by sailboats in times of past!?

 

Kyle and crew left Homer three weeks ago and have been in Bristol Bay for almost 2.5 weeks.  Last minute preparations were made and early season fishing has been underway.  Last season the fish came early and many boats missed out on a large percentage of their season's catch.  So of course everyone showed up early just in case this year.  Turns out the fish didn't get the 'early fish' memo, so lots of boats have been lined up scratch fishing, only catching a little bit of fish in each opener. In the last few days the numbers of fish has slowly increased, so things should be starting to happen soon.  In Bristol Bay the first weeks of fishing are declared 'Free Week' and a boat can fish any district.  However pretty soon every boat has to drop their permit card in a specified district (Naknek, Egegik, Nushagak, Ugashik, etc.).  In order to switch districts you forfeit 48 hours of fishing, which can be critical in the peak days of the fishery.  It's a big decision to be made, especially for a first time Bristol Bay fisherman like Kyle. A lot of research and 100 times more speculation is put into what will happen in a fishery, and yet you never really know how it will all shake down until the season is over!  

(PS- Keep those orders coming!)

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Ready for 2014 Orders!

Emily Lints4 comments
Dear Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Customers,
It's been a loaded spring.  We are in Homer, AK enjoying the land of the north and preparing for the upcoming salmon season.  Kyle is excited for an exciting new experience in Bristol Bay and is getting the F/V Northland ready for her new fishery.
With so many things changing it's taken awhile to figure out the details of our Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Shares for 2014.  Here they are:
Our new partnership with Leader Creek Fisheries, our new cannery and processor in Bristol Bay, will help us improve our Salmon Shares in a number of ways:
  • We are not as limited in our ability to put up Salmon, so will be able to offer more Salmon Shares!  (Tell your friends and family and put together a group order!)
  • There will not be any bones in the Salmon!
  • We will offer Salmon Shares in either portions (5-7oz) or whole fillets this year!  (Fillets will be slightly cheaper.)
  • Each cut of Salmon will be beautifully trimmed, leaving less pieces of meat exposed to freezer burn on the edges!
  • All Salmon Shares will be barged in a freezer van to Seattle and will then ship out of Seattle instead of Alaska.  (This should simplify and shorten your fish's overnight journey to you.  If you live in Seattle we are looking into the easiest way to get fish to you.)
We are now a part of a coop of fisherman, all equally dedicated to quality.  This means that we can no longer assure that the fish we sell to you are the ones that we specifically caught.  (Your Salmon Share may include some of our fish and some fish from other boats in our coop.) We are still your connection to some of the highest quality salmon out there and can inform you of every step along the way taken to keep your fish delicious. All boats fishing for Leader Creek bleed every fish and are equipped with Refrigerated Sea Water (RSW) systems that chill the Salmon to 34 degrees immediately after coming on board.  The fish that we are able to offer you are the top "A Grade" salmon picked out of all Salmon delivered to Leader Creek, the highest quality cannery in Bristol Bay.
Important order details on Small Scales Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Shares for 2014:
  • Shares are again offered in 25 pound increments.
  • Choose between 25 pounds of portions (5-7 oz.) or 25 pounds of fillets (half of a salmon).
    • (We are not offering mixed portion/fillet shares, unless you order 50 pounds and want one box of each.)
  • Please get your order in as soon as possible, we will still serve customers on a first come first serve basis.
    • Email us your information:
      • Name
      • Pounds Ordered of Fillets or Portions
      • Shipping Address
      • Phone
      • Email
  • All orders will be shipped overnight to your doorstep, but we will only have a set day or two that fish ships out of Seattle.
    • (This will happen once the fish arrives to the cold storage facility in Seattle and we get it all packaged and ready for you.  We except this to happen mid-August to mid-September but will give a good heads up.)
  • Payment will still be by check at the end of the season once prices are set.
    • (The Salmon market is changing a lot lately, so we can't speculate about prices yet. Last year prices were $15.20/lb for a 25 pound Salmon Share and $13.90/lb for a 50 pound share.  Fillets will be slightly cheaper.)
  • New this year, we will offer group discounts to orders of 100 pounds or more!  Combine with friends, family and neighbors for a group order.  Contact us if you'd like to know more.
Please contact us if you have any questions about our Small Scales Seafoods Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Shares for 2014 and get your order in soon!

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Enjoying Your Salmon?

Emily Lints6 comments

image-1 Maggie and her King Salmon cousin

 

Almost all of our customers have already received their Small Scales Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Shares.  We hope you're really enjoying the fresh fish!

We have about ten shares left to sell, send your friends our way.

One customer made a particularly scrumptious sounding meal: salmon fillets marinated in olive oil and fresh rosemary, lightly grilled and then topped with a peach bourbon sauce.  Mmmmmm!   We are officially done fishing.  Kyle and JP fished one final day this last Monday in search of a strong Silver Salmon run.  The fishing report was 'too calm and too clear' (often rough water makes it harder for the fish to see the net).  After catching only 15 fish for a long day of fishing they decided that the fuel and time expenditure didn't quite sketch out. Kyle's birthday load! Kyle's birthday load!

 

Here is a photo of Kyle a couple weeks ago on a particularly good day of fishing.  The load was mostly Silver Salmon (Coho).  It was a pleasant surprise for late season fishing, especially since it was Kyle's birthday.  All these fish were caught in one set, over a pretty short period of time.  Fun and exciting! Overall it's been a pretty good season.  Last year was so good that it's hard to compare, but the price increase at the dock helped to offset the difference in our catch.

We really appreciate your business and hope you appreciate your fish!

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Ninilchik Harbor

Emily Lints
image Two nights ago the Northland spent the night in the Ninilchik Harbor.  As you can see the harbor gets pretty jam packed with gillnetters and starts to look a bit precarious at low tide!  Ninilchik is between the Kasilof River and Homer, near the south line of the fishing area.  It is a tidally restricted harbor, meaning that the entrance and exit is only accessible at high tides.  Most of the boats fishing out of Ninilchik are Russians from one of the nearby settlements.  These settlements started originally as a land grant to Old Believer Russians escaping religious persecution in Russia.  These days there's thriving Russian communities on both sides of Homer and they are hard working fishermen! Today was a good solid day of fishing and Kyle and the crew put up a good load of direct market, top quality, fish for our great customers.  The period was extended until 11pm this evening, so the fishing continues!  Tomorrow is a mandatory closure but within the next week we'll know if the run materializes to be a good return like projected, or if it is simply a little early.

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Fishing Facts

Emily Lints3 comments

The Northland reported an "exciting day of fishing today", catching about 1,400 Sockeye Salmon.  Kyle said that the fishing was pretty hot right off at 7 a.m., then slow most of the day and then strong again before closing at 7 p.m.  If the run of salmon comes in strong we can hope for some good back to back fishing in the next weeks.   photo-1 One of the many BEAUTIFUL Kenai Reds and HANDSOME deckhand Jake.

 

A number of customers have asked us general questions over the past years about our drift gillnet fishing operation.  Here's an attempt at starting to publicly answer a few of them.  Let us know if you have more questions!

  • Length of our boat:  The Northland is 32 feet long.
  • Size of our net:  Our net is 3 shackels long, each shackel is 50 fathoms and each fathom is 6 feet-- for a total of 900 feet in length.  It is 45 meshes deep (diamond shapes of net), each mesh being 5.125 inches high-- for a total of 230.6 feet.  However this depth is a little misleading because it is never fully stretched out while fishing.
  • Number of boats in Cook Inlet:  There are 600 permits out there and about 400 boats fishing.  A boat can double up their permits and be allowed to fish one more shackle and other permits are not fished.
  • Number of Salmon in Cook Inlet:  This varies year to year, but last year 6.4 million salmon returned to Cook Inlet.  The fishery was regulated for an escapement, or upriver return, of 1.2 million fish.  The remaining fish were divided amongst the user groups- commercial (drift and set gillnet), sport and personal use.
  • Number of days we fish in a season:  If there are a lot of fish they let us fish more and vice versa.  This generally ranges between 16-30 fishing days.
  • Percentage of our catch that we sell directly to customers:  Again, it all varies but last year we sold a little under 10% of our catch directly to customers and the rest was offloaded and sold to our cannery.

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The Fish Are Swimming!

Emily Lints1 comment

The Upper Cook Inlet Salmon fishery is underway.

photo 3-1 With four days already fished the season looks like it has the potential to be a good one.  The Kasilof River already has a return of over 125,000 sockeye, which is the highest return this early in the season ever recorded.  One never knows how the season will end, until a while after it's over and the cannery actually pays up, but it's always fun to get excited.  Prices tend to be highest for the first few deliveries, until the market gets flooded with fish, so we will wait a little before putting up our top quality direct market fish. photo 1 On the quality front, Kyle has spent the last few weeks installing a Refrigerated Salt Water (RSW) system.  With the RSW we are able to pump chilled sea water (32-35 degrees) into the fish holds to constantly keep the fish cold.  This means no more ice and the constant temperature should even improve the quality of your fish! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the fun and family and historic front, we spent last week across Cook Inlet at Snug Harbor celebrating Gramma Margie Mullen's 93rd birthday and Summer Solstice with 30 family members.  Snug Harbor was one of the biggest canneries in Cook Inlet from about 1930-1970.  What a stunning place!  It was a great location for the first two fishing openers because it is down near the southern line of the fishing boundary, where the early season fish first show up.  The bear viewing, clamming, paddling and fishing were fantastic- especially with such great company.

photo

Kyle, JP and Jake are finishing up two back to back days of fishing.  Extra days of fishing, beyond the scheduled Monday and Thursday schedule, are allotted based on the number of fish up the river.  Yesterday was good early season fishing for the corridor (a restricted area near the beach) with over 300 fish caught and the mid-day report for today was pretty good with about the same number of fish.

Thanks for reading.

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Ready for 2013 Orders

Emily Lints5 comments
We're ready to take orders for 2013! _MG_4480 We're giving returning customers two weeks to get their orders in and then we'll go down our list of interested customers and reach out to new customers.  We've had a few changes in our life, having a baby and moving more full time Alaska, and are making changes in our business to reflect those changes.  This year we will only offer Scrumptious Salmon Shares two ways: shipped directly to you or picked up in Homer.  (Sorry Methow and Anchorage!). Price estimate for 2013:  $15.20/lb for a 25 pound Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Share shipped directly to you or $13.90/lb for a 50 pound share.  $8.75/lb for a Scrumptious Sockeye Salmon Share picked up in Homer.  (The small price increase is because we expect the dock price of fish to go up a little this year.  We'll make any adjustments up or down once the fish are caught to offer the most fair and affordable price we can.)  For more information, read all the details about our Salmon Shares and how to place an Order.

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Sold Out!

Emily Lints1 comment
Hi Salmon Eaters, We wanted to let everyone know that we are completely sold out for 2012.  Thanks to everyone for your business and for spreading the word to help us sell all of our salmon.  Send us an email if you'd like to be put on our pre-season email list for next season. Until then, happy scrumptious salmon eating! Emily and Kyle

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Fall Migration South

Emily Lints6 comments

Full Truck

We're headed south today, leaving a foggy Homer, AK.  It's been a fabulous summer up here and we're a bit reluctant to leave, but look forward to our Washington adventures.  Our truck is packed to the brim with 3 freezers full of 850 pounds of Sockeye, 3 dogs weighing some 220 pounds and the two of us (plus a growing baby in the belly). We hope to be in the Methow Valley by the end of this week or the beginning of next, so Methow folks check your emails for delivery info soon.

Upon our final freezer tally we have 10 shares (at 25 pounds each) left, so let us know if you'd like more scrumptious salmon or let others know about our great fish.

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