Wild, line-caught seafood

With a growing interest in sustainable seafood and eating fish that has minimal impact on the ocean, we have been getting lots of inquiries regarding our hook and line-caught seafood.

Our fishermen-owned co-op is made up of small boat fishermen using minimal impact gear. Our small-scale fishing techniques are both socially and environmentally responsible. Using hook and line catch methods allows fishermen to target their catch and therefore reduces bycatch. Using these lower impact fishing methods also greatly improves quality. The biggest factor determining the quality of a fish on a diners’ plate is how the fishermen handle the fish while on the boat—not time out of water, which is commonly thought by the general public. When fishing with a hook and line, there is much more time for fishermen to take care of each individual fish, as we’ll see below.

Line-caught wild salmon

Many customers find us seeking out our line-caught wild salmon. Our Alaska Gold wild salmon is the pinnacle of quality. It is also an environmentally responsible way to catch fish. Line-caught salmon are otherwise known as troll-caught salmon. Trolling is just about the opposite of the similar-sounding trawling. Trawling involves a large floating factory dragging a wide net that can catch untargeted species and scrape the ocean floor.

In contrast, catching salmon using hook and line, or trolling, results in the best quality wild salmon. The fish does not bruise in nets. In addition, trolling is a slower fishing method and operates on a much smaller scale. Trollers tend to fish alone or in pairs on small boats. Each fisherman in our co-op brings great pride in producing the best quality fish. As Charlie Wilber, one of our fishermen says, ““By the time I’m done with them, I practically have a name for each fish I catch.”

Preserving quality

While trolling, fishermen land the fish on the boat and quickly remove the blood and guts of the fish. Our fishermen use a micro-pipette to remove every speck of blood from the bloodline and are meticulous in their cuts to remove unwanted viscera. Blood and guts are the first parts of the fish to get an off flavor, so quick and careful removal of them results in the freshest tasting seafood. Trolling is the exact opposite of industrial trawling in the sense that fishermen aren’t on a floating factory. Trolling also preserves the local aspect of Alaska fishing. The catch trollers bring back to their homeport benefits the small coastal communities of southeast Alaska, not far-off corporations.

Line-caught wild halibut

Like our wild salmon, our Alaska Gold Halibut are wild and hook and line-caught. Our line-caught Alaska Gold Halibut also benefit from sustainable fishery management. Once again, our hook and line fishing methods account for the fresh flavor of our halibut. Our customers marvel at the fresh taste of our flash-frozen halibut.

That fresh taste is part of the Alaska Gold difference. Since our fishermen-owned processing plant is in Sitka, fishermen do not have to travel far to get to fishing grounds. Some of the richest waters in the world are within a very short trip to and from Sitka. So, in essence, fishermen have their choice of rich waters to fish in and quick trips back to their processing plant.

Wild Alaskan sablefish

We also catch Sablefish using hook and line methods. However, increasingly fishermen have been moving to pots instead of hooks to fish. These pots also reduce bycatch and impact to the ocean. Because sperm whales and orcas have learned that hooks have food on them, they sometimes follow boats targeting black cod with hooks to get their evening dinner, causing fishermen to lose both their potential catch and the bait they used on the hooks. The pots are also easier to bait than hooks, a tedious process for fishermen. It’s much quicker for fishermen to bait pots. The fish come on board in excellent condition in the pots, some say better than those caught on hooks.

Line-caught albacore tuna

One of our offerings that benefits the most from being hook and line-caught is our Albacore Tuna. Our fishermen are catching albacore tuna off the coasts of Washington state and British Columbia. When albacore tuna is in this stage of its migration, it is very young and building up fat reserves for a long migration around the Pacific Ocean. The oil content on these fish is very high, making them succulent and high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Our fishermen land tuna on their boats and immediately flash-freeze them to forty degrees below Fahrenheit, locking in freshness. These tuna are perfect for sashimi.

The other benefit to fishing tuna using hook and line methods early in their migratory pattern is that there is much lower mercury concentration than there would be in a fully grown tuna. Large canning outfits typically use fully grown tuna with higher mercury contents. So, in essence, our Gourmet Canned Tuna will not only taste a million times better than the canned tuna you typically find in grocery stores, it will also be much safer for your health. You won’t have to worry about limiting consumption. And you won’t want to…it’ll make the best tuna melt you’ve ever had.

Rockfish and lingcod

In addition to our Wild Salmon, Halibut, Sablefish, and Albacore Tuna, our Rockfish and Lingcod also benefit from being line-caught. There are directed fishing openings for Lingcod when we catch these pre-historic looking fish. We also run into lingcod while fishing for salmon and halibut when our fishermen also catch Rockfish. There are over 30 species of rockfish in Alaska. We primarily serve up our Yelloweye (Sebastes ruberrimus) and Shortraker (Sebastes borealis). These are known as “directed bycatch,” meaning that they aren’t the target species when being caught, but the fishermen can catch a certain percentage of these fish while fishing for halibut, for example, without harming rockfish populations.

Being managed as such means that they are not being overfished. Being caught on hook and line limits this bycatch, but the big benefit of being hook and line fish is that the quality is impeccable. Many consumers have been served rockfish that have been trawl-caught. The trawl-caught rockfish do not do justice to this mild, sweet treat that Alaskans love. When you have our line-caught Rockfish with this Alaska Rockfish Tacos Recipe, you will finally have tried the best fish tacos you’ve ever had.

Being line-caught makes the Alaska Gold difference. We are a fishermen-owned co-op that focuses on quality over quantity. We do not produce nearly as much fish as other fishing methods, but our fishermen have time to focus on quality. You will taste the freshness of being line-caught and well taken care of in every bite.