You may have noticed last week I posted our UK post without pictures. It’s now updated, so check that out. The reason? The reds were running! If that phrase makes no sense to you, I’ll translate: “Over 50,000 Sockeye salmon are running up the Kenai river every single day and everything must stop so we can go catch them!”
I’m sure you’ve heard that Alaska is good for fishing. That’s true. But it’s more than that. Fishing is such a part of life up here, July is completely unproductive statewide. If people are actually AT work, they’re probably obsessively checking the daily fish counts, texting co-workers that are fishing, or checking social media to see if people are catching successfully to determine when they should go! It’s such a part of life that Mr. T’s company used to drop a “personal holiday” in each employee’s account on July 1 to use at their discretion (but everyone used it to go fishing).*
As Alaska residents, we get to fish with a giant net and catch 65 salmon. To read more about the process, check out last year’s post on Dipnetting. This year, Penny was asking why everyone can’t fish like we can. “Because everyone would do it!” My kids have no idea how lucky they are.
I will repeat again how much I love dipnetting. Everyone on the beach is super helpful, communal, and friendly. When one person catches a fish, everyone celebrates because that means everyone will catch! It’s one of the most amazing experiences and my favorite time of year!
How did we do? We got down to the beach on Wednesday evening and fished for about an hour, but things were slow. We caught 4 salmon, but they were large! The next morning, Mr. T started fishing right at 6AM (when you can legally start fishing) and caught 23 salmon in 2 hours! We could have caught more, but we always fill up our two coolers and then quit (because we know those two coolers equal the perfect amount for our family for a year). Total count: 27 salmon. – This equals just over 87 lbs of edible meat (87.125 lbs to be exact). This translates to 46 fillets and another 14 lbs sent off to be smoked. Our smallest fillet: 12 oz (we send the little ones to be smoked). Biggest fillet: 40 oz (our largest fillet in history!). In all, we caught less fish than last year, but ended up with about 10 lbs more meat because these ones were much larger!
Every year I calculate all the expenses associated with dipnetting to see just how good of a deal we’re getting on our salmon.**
- $13.35 – 1 camping chair for Lui (he’s old enough to need his own now) and 2 five gallon water containers, since we seemed to have misplaced ours (we used a leftover birthday gift card for $25 of the total purchase).
- $9.56 – Ice to keep the fish cool after catching.
- $30 – Gas for the car.
- $34.50 – FoodSaver bags to package all of our salmon.
- $25 – The cost to camp on the beach one night.
- $20 – There’s a $10 drop-off fee for each day to drop your stuff off at the beach and then to pick it up the next day.
- $24 – Mr. T’s fishing license.
- $77 – The cost to have 14 lbs of our salmon professionally smoked.
- $18.61 – Blizzards at Dairy Queen for the whole family on the way home.
Total Costs: $252.02
Total Cost Per Pound: $2.89
Our children are real Alaskans now. Penny was able to identify the sex of each salmon with 100% accuracy (Mr. T and I can’t do that!). And once we cut them open to verify (and also to gut them, obviously), Florin embraced the Alaskan pastime of throwing the salmon eggs to the seagulls to watch them dive-bomb to eat them.
Then we came home, scrubbed, filleted, and packaged our salmon and then everyone took long hot showers with lots of soap to get the fishiness off!
How much do you pay for salmon in your part of the world?
*As oil prices bottomed out and Mr. T’s company threatened the lay-offs last summer that prompted this very blog to be born, the “fishing holiday” was cut. Alas.
**Even if it wasn’t a fabulous deal, we would probably still do it to enjoy the freshest salmon available…fresh, never frozen salmon melts in your mouth like filet mignon. Also, we love dipnetting so much!