After days of halibut fishing in Alaska, what is the best way to get your fish home? This is, by far, one of the most common questions we get every season. Shipping fish from Alaska can seem daunting, but with the right tips and proper packaging, getting your fish home will be easier to plan ahead of time! Here, we dive into processing your catch, having it packaged, and ways to get it home!
An important variable that goes into shipping fish from Alaska is how it's processed. Once your fish is caught, ideally, your captain will get you connect with a fish processor. After your trip, the processing crew will meet you down at the docks and diligently work with you to provide packaging options. The most common options include 1lb or 2lb packages. There are other customizations you can make as well. These include whole filets and leaving the skin on or having it removed.
Once your order is set, the processor will get it back to the processing plant and ready for packaging. Regardless of how you choose to customize the processing of your fish, it's important to work with a processor that handles fish regularly and has the resources for proper packaging. Otherwise, you risk having breakage in the packages, leaving your fish at risk of being freezer burnt.
In Homer, Homer Fish Processing and Coal Point Processing are our local fish processors. Both companies are well versed in processing fish caught on daily charters and are diligent in their processing times. Additionally, both companies are professionally set up with proper equipment for safe and efficient processing.
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Now that your fish has been processed, it's time to talk about packaging! There are a few options to consider. All processors ship in airline certified boxes and each box has it's own capacity limit. The most common is a 5olb box. When you are ready to ship, all of your fish will be frozen solid. Additionally, when shipping in these boxes, you can either have them packaged as is or have the option for dry ice. Most processors will tell you dry ice is options, as frozen fish will last up to 48-72 hours in the cooler box that it's packaged in alone.
However, if you are shipping to a very hot location or over seas, then adding dry ice can work to your advantage. Furthermore, the other thing to consider is planning for delays in shipping. This can be another benefit for the addition of dry ice being used. When deciding on the best option to choose, we highly recommend that you check with the processor beforehand, as they can provide insight on shipping times and recommend if dry ice will be needed or not.
Finally, your fish is processed and now packaged, it's time to talk about how to get your fresh catch home! There are two options available to anglers shipping fish from Alaska. You can ship thru the processor using Fedex or UPS or plan to take it as checked baggage on your flight home. Below we break down the pros and cons of both.
Shipping Fish via Fedex or UPS
- You don't have to worry about transporting it around Alaska or with you back to the airport
- Allows you to customize the date of arrival back home so you can plan for proper storage
- Can ship to various addresses, if needed
- It's expensive. It's roughly a few hundred per 50lb box to ship
- Could end up with delays in shipping
- Fedex nor UPS, that we know of, have freezers for storing fish along the way
Flying With Fish
- Cost effective. While you still have baggage fees, it's less per box to fly with it home
- Your fish is with you when you arrive
- You have to carry it with you during your travels. For those going elsewhere to explore Alaska, a lot of processors allow you to store your fish. This helps with being able to package it all at the end of your travels and take it with you to the airport
- Possible delays with bags not making flights
For more information on shipping fish from Alaska, feel free to reach out to us at any time!