Location: YAKUTAT, ALASKA
Featuring: MYSTIC SALMON
David and Shannon Negus started Mystic Salmon in 2003. Their's is an artisanal business. They catch, bleed, ice, process, pack and ship their own fish observing traditional methods.
They chose Yakutat for the following reasons: a healthy and diverse salmon resource; low impact gear; a “day fishery” adjacent to a major airport; affordable “set gill net” permits (only 175 privately held in Yakutat); a family friendly fishing environment. The Yakutat District’s set gill net season runs from the first Sunday in June through October with weekly openers (weather & salmon permitting).
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets “biological escapement goals” for each salmon species spawning on the Situk. A number of factors determine attainment of the B.E.G, ranging from weather to ocean currents to net avoidance by the target species, and even the number of days fishing is “open” at this terminal fishery.
How does gill netting work? As fish are removed from the net, bicatch (unintended capture of crab or halibut, for example) are separated and tossed back in the water. Gill nets have different mesh sizes depending on the target species. They are stretched 20 fathoms out from the shore and anchored in the river.
After a central artery in the salmon’s gill is severed the fish bleeds out in a tote filled with flake ice and seawater. “Bleeding and icing” fish with the process reduces degradation of the flesh and vastly extends the fish’s shelf life. In less than thirty six hours these wild caught salmon will end up in select restaurants and fish markets across America. Each fish Mystic salmon catches is sold before they take it out of the water.