I’d like to share a recent conversation I had with a new guest.
After booking multiple days of fishing on the river, and a day of fishing on the saltwater for halibut, he asked, “how do I get all that fish home?”
I replied, “well, the pressure is on me to make sure you have fish to bring home. The rest is easy. It just depends on convenience, and how much money you want to spend.”
If you like to do things on your own, and want to save a little money, the best way to get your catch home is to use our vacuum sealer (.50 a bag), buy a fish box at a local store ($12-$20), and take the fish box with you on your flight, as a checked piece of luggage ($25-$75).
If you don’t want to DIY your fish, you can drop off your catch at one of the many fish processors in the area. Their services will cost anywhere from $1.25-$1.75 per pound. Not only can they process your catch, they can box it and ship it to your doorstep. Last season, the shipping rate from FedEx and UPS was $3-$5 a pound depending on the destination.
Before our conversation ended, I had to ask, “what type of vehicle are you going to rent.”
“Since it’s four of us coming, I’m getting an SUV.”
“Well, you might want to think about shipping fish then. An SUV will not have enough room for you, your luggage, and your fish. If you’re planning to bring fish home yourself, I’d recommend renting a second vehicle, a cargo van, or a full size pick up. Or, you could do what a group did last year, rent a UHaul trailer. It’s another option to get your fish to the Anchorage airport, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
After I hung up the phone (How old am I? Who “hangs” up a phone anymore…), I realized there are a few other things about getting your fish home that I didn’t address.
- Dry ice is a no-no. Airlines won’t accept it, nor will you need it. If your fish is completely frozen when it’s boxed, it should weather the flight just fine.
- I wouldn’t recommend hauling a cooler up to Alaska and back. They are bulky and will not hold as much fish as you think. The only people I encourage to bring their own coolers are the Miller’s and Stacken’s. They fill it with venison/vegetables for the trip up, and use it bring fish back. Whatever they don’t eat, they leave with us. Yahtzee!
- Always buy a larger fish box than you think you need. A 60lb box with loose packed frozen fish will come under the 50lb airline maximum. And, don’t forget to buy packing tape. The boxes don’t seal themselves.
- Ziplock freezer bags will work to package your fish, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re planning to eat all your fish within a couple of weeks. Commercial grade vacuum sealing will preserve your catch for over a year or more.
- If you are staying in Anchorage the night before your flight, bring your fish to the airport. They offer freezer storage space on site for a nominal fee.