Finding the Types of Fish You Need - Even When It's Out of Season

Is the Fish You Need Available When You Need It?

Have you ever seen a photo for a delicious fish recipe and been excited to make the dish? Only to discover that species of fish is out of season and out of stock?

It can be disappointing!

Fishing seasons can be very tight windows of time and are intricately managed to ensure the ongoing availability of each type of fish. For us as consumers it can mean that a specific fish isn’t always available to purchase.

This question is oh so common and we thought we’d shed a little light on the topic. Plus we're sharing details on the extra steps we and our partners take to ensure you can access the fish you want ... year round, even out of season!

There’s a Right Time to Catch Each Species of Fish

Did you know - the commercial harvest season in Bristol Bay is quite short compared to many other wild fisheries? The bulk of wild sockeye salmon available in the U.S. is caught in Bristol Bay during a narrow two-month window that begins in mid-June and is over by early August.

That’s the entire fishing season of the F/V Ava Jane (the Kurian family fishing vessel)!  If you wanted to cook a salmon recipe, and could only access salmon when it’s available fresh, well … you would only be able to eat salmon during these two short months!

Thankfully, no matter the time of year, some type of delicious wild fish is always available fresh. And better yet, because of the great modern technology of freezing seafood, good quality seafood is available year round!

Read on to learn more about these complex fishing seasons, and discover what we at Wild for Salmon do to help you access the fish you crave, at any time of year.

How the Fishing Seasons are Determined

The commercial fishing seasons for each type of wild seafood in the United States are affected by important regulatory factors. Like fish count numbers, spawning or breeding times, water temperature, and more.

The seasons are also dependent on the region where you are fishing. For example, rockfish is available to catch along most of the west coast of the contiguous United States and Alaska. But the timing of the commercial harvest season varies depending on your location. It’s one time of year  for Oregon and another for Southeast Alaska.

To better understand commercial harvest availability, explore the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Commercial Fisheries page.

Of course, the ocean and the fish don’t work on the same calendar that the people use so seasons are always subject to change! In Bristol Bay, it can even change daily!

Steve and his crew listen to the radio each day for the fishing announcements. That’s when local, expert biologists announce the rules and regulations for the next period, sometimes as short as only five or six hours out. Sometimes, a certain area is closed. Other times, commercial fishing is open during only certain times of the tide.

Get a sense of how detailed this process can be by reading the 2020 harvest announcements for the Bristol Bay region.

What Types of Wild Fish are Available, and When?

This chart from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute maps out the different types of fish that are available, and when they are available. The commercial seasons of most Alaska fisheries are lined out by harvest months, noting which species of fish are available during what time of year.

How This Information Helps You!

Reading our recent recipes, you might be wondering when a specific fish will be available.

Such as black cod (also known as sablefish) for example. As shown by the icons in the chart, you can see that the black cod commercial fishery typically “opens” - becomes available for harvest under sustainable regulations - in March and remains open through November.

Or maybe you missed the lingcod last time they were in stock and are wondering when to look for them again? Our lingcod comes from Yakobi Fisheries and is typically caught between May and July, arriving at Wild for Salmon in early fall.

If you’re ever seeking a specific fish, and want to know when we’ll have it back in stock, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help! While we enjoy bringing you into the complex world of commercial fishing, we also know you may need your answer quickly. Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you find the information quickly!  

Here’s another common question we get - usually from our local customers - why is the Wild for Salmon Fishtival Celebration always held at the end of summer? As you might guess, it’s all tied to a fishing season - in our case the Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Run. In August, we celebrate the end of the harvest season and are excited to make our shipment of frozen, vac-packed fillets and portions of sockeye salmon available to all of you.

The chart shows the average commercial harvests, but it is important to note that the dates can change. It’s due to the factors previously listed - these decisions are made based on expert science and knowledge of the fishery and its history. The goal is always to preserve the stock of the species for commercial harvest and to support the overall ecosystem. Ensuring the availability of the fish for all of us to enjoy for years to come.

Commercial fisheries vary from sport fisheries, but in order to fish sustainably, you MUST check local regulations no matter how and where you catch fish.

What If the Fish Is Out of Season? Is It Still Fresh?

Great question!

What do you do if you want a specific fish but it’s not in season - such as black cod in January?

Thankfully, the fishermen we trust and buy from flash-freeze their catch soon after the fish come aboard. Just like we do with our sockeye salmon catch.

Flash-freezing seals in the freshness and makes delicious wild fish species available year-round.

Because the fish is frozen at its peak freshness, it arrives at your doorstep in the same great quality as when it was frozen! For the bulk of customers who are unable to buy wild fish right off the docks, this is the best way to enjoy fresh fish.  Learn more about our Fresh vs Frozen philosophy here and more about the attention we pay to quality in this article on buying quality seafood online.

Because we take these extra steps to ensure good-tasting fish you can count on the fish you purchase from Wild for Salmon being fresh and of good quality. Even if the type of fish is out of season. Guaranteed.

Keeping Our Fish Wild and Protecting The Environment

At Wild for Salmon, it is important for us to take all these extra steps of working with the environment, the biologists, and taking care of our product. To ensure we provide you with the highest quality, healthy, protein-packed wild caught fish and seafood.

This extra care and attention to what we’re feeding our families is as important as ever. Plus everyone agrees it is easier to eat healthy when the food tastes great! The health benefits of wild-caught fish are many from Omega-3’s to protein-packed portions.

Our commitment to you is to keep offering a product you can trust, no matter the season. To do that we will continue to work with partners in our fishing grounds of Bristol Bay to preserve the clean water in which the salmon thrive. We’ve pledged now for over fifteen years to sell only sustainable and quality wild fish. We look forward to doing so for the next fifteen and beyond. Learn more about how Wildly Devoted we are to Bristol Bay.

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