Artisans at Sea – Coho salmon caught exclusively for Lunds and Byerly’s
Posted by Mary Smith, Alaskan fisherwoman
Friday, January 10, 2014
It’s still dark out when the captain yells, “rise and shine!” You can’t argue with the captain (even if he is your husband). I roll out of the bunk and pull on my wool socks and rubber boots. We have about 15 minutes before we have to set the gear; just enough time to make a pot of strong coffee and eat a granola bar. It’s early September in Alaska and even though the summer has been sunnier than normal, it’s still pretty chilly out at 5 a.m., so I slip on a sweatshirt and a warm hat before heading out on deck.
We set our gear as the sun climbs up over the mountains. It’s another gorgeous day on the ocean! My husband David and I are trollers, harvesting wild coho salmon (also known as silver salmon) exclusively for Lunds and Byerly’s off the shore of Yakobi Island, Alaska. Trolling is one of the most intimate forms of commercial fishing - each salmon is hooked and brought to the boat individually and we land each one by hand. We love having this kind of control over the fish we catch; it allows us to make sure that each salmon we handle meets the very highest quality standards.
Catching salmon is just a part of our day. We’re a freezer boat, so after bringing each batch of fish aboard our boat, The Virga, we carefully process them for the freezing. We carefully clean each fish to ensure it’s perfect, even using a tiny, pressurized hose to finish the process with surgical precision. It’s painstaking, but it means when these salmon head into our deep freeze, they are absolutely pristine. We like to think of ourselves as artisans and our meticulous process means we can’t put up more than about 100 fish each day.
As soon as the first batch of salmon is clean, David crawls down into the freezer. It’s 40 below down there, so we work quickly to load the fish onto their racks. Because we run a small operation, we’re able to get our fish landed, processed and into the freezer in less than an hour. That’s what “frozen at sea” really means. We’re able to use temperature to essentially hold that fish at the freshness it was when it was caught it. We call our freezer “The Time Machine” because it really stops time for that fish. When it arrives in the case at your Lunds or Byerly’s store, you’re seeing it pretty much as we last saw it in Alaska.
We love being an exclusive supplier to Lunds and Byerly’s. As a fisherman, it’s a joy knowing each fish that comes aboard our boat is destined for a customer who appreciates quality, value and sustainability. And let’s not forget the most important reason – flavor! Coho salmon have a clean, fresh flavor that’s tough to beat, and our process locks in that flavor.
We hope you’ll make the most of this opportunity to enjoy wild Alaska coho salmon, harvested exclusively for Lunds and Byerly’s. It’s not just a chance to eat well, it’s also a delicious way to support hard working artisans at sea catching salmon the good old-fashioned way.
We are committed to offering you a wide variety of responsibly sourced wild-caught and farm-raised seafood through partnerships with third-party organizations that ensure fisheries are utilizing sustainable practices that preserve and improve our oceans’ ecosystems. Look for our “Responsibly Sourced” icon for your guarantee that the seafood comes from a sustainable fishery.