The Puget Sound season ended last week. With that, we are done with another year of fishing! The fishing this fall in the Sound was great. In fact, it was the best local fall season we’ve had in probably the last decade. We delivered a number of fres shipments to the New Seasons Markets in Portland. After the first couple deliveries, we got several comments from the seafood managers that these were some of the finest Keta they had seen. We’d have to agree. Good meat color, firm texture and thick belly walls equals happy fishermen, buyers, and customers!
Our farmers market customers were just as happy. We sell the small whole Keta salmon for $20 flat at the market, which is a great deal for a fresh, whole fish! We also pick out a couple hundred pounds each weekend of large, bright salmon to fillet and bag for the farmers markets. The Keta salmon has a 3-5 year life cycle, starting out as fry in freshwater, migrating to the ocean to grow and mature, and then running back to Puget Sound as adult salmon. The 3-year-olds are usually the relatively smaller ones, whereas the 4 and 5-year-olds have a bit of extra time in the ocean to grow and come back larger. Headed and gutted, a small Keta salmon is 4-5 pounds, whereas a large one is 9-12 pounds. Keta is the 2nd largest species of Pacific salmon, behind King.
Of the 5 species of Pacific salmon, the Pink and Keta are by far the most often misunderstood and stigmatized. When we first started direct-marketing them at the farmers markets about thirteen years ago, most of our customers had never considered eating a salmon that is also known as “chum”. Now we have a following of customers who realize what an amazing, natural resource this is, in addition to tasting delicious! We do a couple things to maintain the integrity of the Pink and Keta we bring to market: we catch them in saltwater, bleed, clean and immerse them in refrigerated seawater immediately after being caught, and rigorously grade the salmon during offload to ensure the right fish end up at the right place. In the photo above, Jonah is sorting his fish out into 3 totes-#1 hi-grade’s, small #1’s, and smokers. It was great to see such nice fish in the Sound this year!
This fall was the first season since graduating college in 2007 that I didn’t fish with Pete on F/V Njord. With the expansion of our inventory this summer, I thought it best if I focused on keeping the business operations humming. Luckily, Drew found us online and worked out great. He fished every opening with Pete, is working Sundays at the West Seattle Farmers Market, and is planning on deck handing with Pete in Alaska in the summer of 2013!
I’ll update again soon with what we’re up to this winter. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!