July 29, 2014

Here fishy, fishy, fishy!!

It's no secret that I LOVE me some good Alaskan salmon and halibut!
Consequently, being raised in Alaska has made me a bit of a snob and I'd rather not eat fish that isn't absolutely fresh.  Though we freeze our fish right away and it remains delicious throughout the winter, it is the absolute best eating the day it's caught.  Mmmmmm.......no wonder it has been Kenadie's favorite meal since we moved here 3 years ago!

I have to admit, I've almost always reaped the benefits of someone else's fishing experience and after someone else gutted and filleted the fish, so I've been pretty removed from the process of actually getting the fish from the ocean to my mouth.  That's a pretty pathetic admission for an Alaskan, but it's true; but thanks to my husband, we rectified that last week!

Garrett went dip-netting over the weekend and came home with 12 red (sockeye) salmon for us to process and freeze.  While Garrett and Grannie did the dirty job of cutting up the fish, I cleaned up and packaged the fish fillets.  No big deal!

Well 12 fish is a lot, but a family's yearly limit is 50, and Garrett really wanted to get more fish so we'd have enough to last us through the winter and next spring (and so we'd have some to share).  So he called me up from work last Monday evening and told me he was taking the following day off so the whole family could go dip-netting down at the mouth of the Kenai River.  I scrambled to get us all ready that night and we left bright and early the next morning.

This is a typical sight at the Kenai River in July:

Garrett wasn't in the water for more than a minute before he caught his first red salmon!

The fishing was actually pretty slow for the first few hours as it was "slack tide".  But not long after high tide, the fish started rolling in and the beach got busy!

Garrett warming up for a bit in the car and snuggling his little boy:

Taking a nap all bundled up and protected from the wind:

Playing in the sand!

Happy baby!

Best catch of the day! ;)

The kids and I kept ourselves entertained by the beach while we watched Daddy bring in fish after fish after fish.  Someone next to us remarked that Garrett was some sort of fish whisperer because of how fast he was bringing them in, and within two hours he had filled our two coolers with 24 beautiful fish!  It was such a fun day that we decided we need to make the fishing trip to Kenai a yearly tradition (but I think next time we'll camp overnight).  We loaded up the kids (who thankfully all fell asleep on the long 3.5 hour drive home), got home, went to bed, and Garrett went to work early the next morning leaving me with all the fish.

After watching a few YouTube tutorials and after doing a hack job on the first few fish, I got the hang of gutting and filleting.  Thanks to my mom's help, we had those fish filleted, packaged, and ready for the freezer by the end of the afternoon--of course we left some out and cooked up some delicious blackened salmon and "candy" salmon (a little salmon marinade we invented that ended up making the best salmon I think I've ever had!!).

Thanks to that experience, I'm feeling a lot more like a true, self-sufficient Alaskan.  I know I can process moose meat and catch and process salmon, so at least no matter what happens, I know I'll never have to starve! ;)

While hunting and fishing require a lot of work and are kind of gross and stinky jobs, I have to say that I like being a little more involved in gathering the food that we eat (which is why I look forward to having a huge vegetable garden someday).  Truthfully, I usually never think about the cow that gave it's life to feed me a nice, juicy steak but I definitely think about and give sincere thanks for the moose and salmon that we eat, probably because I've actually had to see and kill the animal I'm eating.  I know it makes a difference with our children too since they often remark in their prayers how grateful they are for the moose and fishies that died so that we could have something to eat.  Being aware and grateful also helps me to consume less and make sure that we don't waste what we've received.

So thanks for the very fun, spur-of-the-moment fishing trip, Garrett, and thanks for giving your lives to feed us fishies!  I sure feel blessed opening my freezer and seeing it full of good food that we gathered and processed ourselves.

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