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Old 01-09-2002, 03:03 PM   #1
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Default Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Greetings IFishers - I am going to Kenai area with my father (65 years old) for some Kings, sockeye and silvers. Hope to bring home some fish (also some eggs.)

I have heard about three options to bring home fish:

1. Professionally packaged and shipped.

2. Frozen and packed in shipping boxes up to 70 pounds that can be transported as airline baggage.

3. Take your own ice chest as airline baggage (56 gallon was recommended) with all your gear inside. Pack the frozen fish in the cooler and put your clothes in a duffle.

What is the best system, easiest and most cost effective? What is the best way to keep the fish cold in a cooler? Is dry ice available? What will the airlines allow you to do?

Other questions: What about bringing home eggs? Is it worth it? Should I just take some Pro-Cure?
Are sockeye eggs good? Should I bring my own vaccum sealer?

I appreciate any suggestions offered. Thanks, as always, drifter.

"Only accurate rifles are interesting." Col. Townsend "Townie" Whelen.
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Old 01-09-2002, 03:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

you can make a bomb with dry ice!!! hmm dont think it could crash a plane but it could scare some people..
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Old 01-09-2002, 03:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Hello Drifter, When ever I go up to Alaska I do the cooler thing.. I pack my waders and boots in it on the ride up and try to get them back in the cooler on the way back. The motel I say at has a freezer so the fish is nice and frozen when I packet for that mornings fight home. The fish is always in good condition when I get it home. Good luck! :smile: Don
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Old 01-09-2002, 03:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

If you fly Alaska Air, they will allow one fish box up to 75lbs to be checked in as part of your overall luggage allowance. That's a sufficiently good deal that I pay the extra to buy the box and have the fish packaged and flash frozen for a late pickup prior to the flight. (Sorry, I don't fish out of the Anchorage area so I can't offer any "where to" hints.)

The downside of the fish boxes as they have invisible signs on the side that say "Steal me!" so my 75lbs of halibut never made it off the conveyor at Sea-Tac . . . bummer.
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Old 01-09-2002, 04:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

The cooler method is probably the most common. It's everyday stuff to the airlines. Lots of duct tape!

I'd recommend arranging some dry ice -- our luggage took another plane, was delayed ... I was starting to have visions of one stinky box of putrid fishflesh.

We went the box route, you can buy a variety of types and sizes at the supermarket.
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Old 01-09-2002, 04:33 PM   #6
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I suggest calling whatever airline you've booked your tickets with and ask them for specifics about their baggage policy. Alaska Airlines, for example, used to have seperate rules for flights to Alaska--guess they understood the unique nature of the destination--that were more flexible. At any rate, baggagge rules change often, so getting the most current rules from the airline would be your best bet. Incidentally, if you haven't booked a flight for peak season yet, you may have bigger problems to worry about than what you take and how you get it back. :shocked:

The last time I went we took a cooler as our second checked bag--at the time, you were allowed two checked and two carry-on bags. Had our catch flash froze in Soldotna, and then we packed the coolers ourselves the day we left for home. Overall they had to make it about eight hours in the cooler--not a problem with no additional ice whatsover. I believe our coolers were 54 quart--don't remember. What will determine what size you take is the airline's restrictions. We didn't take a bag duffel inside the cooler because that would have put us over on our bags coming back--instead, we packed things we intended to use there, i.e., beverages (yes, some were malt) and such.

As for professionally packaged and shipped fish, it would be best to call for specific rates. It's been many years since I checked, but that route used to be very expensive--as in almost as expensive as just buying fresh fish when you got home. I don't know about now, though. Check. A simple search on lycos should get you the name and number of a facility somewhere on the Kenai Penn. that will help.

The box idea may be a good one too. Remember, you're going to be limited on how many bags/boxes/coolers you can take, though. Check with whatever airline you're flying with for exact details on number, weight, and size restrictions. If you end up checking an extra bag, there is a charge--and they can be OUTRAGEOUS! A friend went on a caribou hunt last fall in the Yukon. His baggage fees far-and-away exceeded his ticket costs--by a couple times, actually. So learn what you can and can't do before you make any plans.

One thing to remember is that the Kenai is not the end of the world. It's not downtown Portland, but it is, as a general matter, as well inhabited and stocked as a place like Tillamook, for example--no kidding. The bush is a different story, though.
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Old 01-09-2002, 05:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Bringing back fish frozen is not a big deal. If your guide or lodge does this regularly they will put your already-frozen fish into a fish box (70 pounds max) for you. That will last about 18 hours with no loss of quality.

If you are doing your own thing use about an 84 quart cooler (75-102 quarts is the range) and make sure your fish is well-frozen. Again, weigh your cooler as packed --- 70 pound max total weight. You can use up to 5 pounds of dry ice (it can be purchased about anywhere) for somewhat extended protection. With this set-up you are good for about 36-48 hours. We have sent fish in such coolers to Oklahoma, Florida and North Carolina and had it arrive rock hard.

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Old 01-09-2002, 06:16 PM   #8
Kim Katsion
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Everything they have said! You are allowed one "upto" 70# box as checked luggage. The best is the ones that you buy with the card board on the outside and the white insulation (I couldn't spell the real term). If you use your own cooler (some coolers upto 10 pounds themselves) that adds a lot of weight to the overall weight.

I would recommend you bring your own vacuum sealer and hopefully the place you stay has a freezer available to their guests. It costs around $1.00 per pound to get the vacuum sealing done by a shop.

Of course bring your egg cure and cure your eggs right there, I have people do it all the time at my place. Sockeye eggs are great for steelhead and silvers, so fish til ya drop. Tight lines, Kim
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Old 01-09-2002, 10:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

I've fished up north for the last 3 summers and once new a guy who wanted to mail his friends some fish. $45 later the 8 lb sockeye was on its way. For most people that is way to much. I'd check prices before you make your final decision. Also look into how much fish you'll need and how you want to process it. Salmon doesn't last forever in a freezer so don't take back more than you'll use.
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Old 01-10-2002, 01:27 AM   #10
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

ANC is the cooler capital of the's a cooler of AK fish from our last trip :grin: . Alaska Airlines has been stellar with our fish; never charged us for coolers that go over #70, never lost one in the past 20 years. Four to five pounds of dry ice per cooler should be sufficent to keep fish frozen on your return flight to PDX.

TIP - Call TENTH & M SEAFOODS in Anchorage a couple of days before you leave, let them know how much you need so they will have it on hand.

[ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: Gregor ]</p>
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Old 01-10-2002, 08:52 AM   #11
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Have always taken coolers. Have your fish vaccum sealed and frozen. It has always worked great for us and have never had a problem with the airlines.
Hope you have a great time up North.
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Old 01-10-2002, 03:56 PM   #12
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

I also use the cooler route, no dry ice, just have the fish vacum packed flash frozen and fill the cooler as close to departure as possible.
I also place several layers of newspapers on top of the fish. Use lots of duck tape around the seal don't let any warm air in.
Also found they have size restrictions on coolers, but for clothes and stuff, find the biggest duffle bag you can to use as second piece of luggage.
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Old 01-10-2002, 05:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

We always vacume pack our fish and freeze it there. We buy the big styrofoam boxes. Year before last 3 of us came back with 6 boxes the least weighed 87lbs. We went to the Sky Cap to checked in. We gave him and extra $25 and had no problems. Don't know if it would work everytime. Never had a box lost or stolen.


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Old 01-10-2002, 05:42 PM   #14
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

I don't know what it is, Gregor, but pictures of eggs like that really make me happy happy!
More egg pictures!
Dang, those are pretty!
J :grin:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Whoo hooo! What a Ride!”

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Old 01-10-2002, 10:55 PM   #15
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

I might be wrong Jenni, but those look like fillets to me? :whazzup:
Should have been here yesterday!
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Old 01-10-2002, 11:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

ya dem be sock-eye filets

here's an egg pic just for you Jennie

[ 01-11-2002: Message edited by: Gregor ]</p>
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Old 01-11-2002, 06:05 AM   #17
Chris Sessions
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Cooler thing works good but as Kim mentioned, many use the waxed fish boxes for less weight. Boxes and liners are available at Trustworthy hardware in Soldotna for about 8 bucks. I use dry ice for the three day drive up (eggs) and for the drive home (fish/eggs). Not necessary for most flights if fish is solid frozen when packed. Below is some more info from Alaska air. Also, most of my customers fly home with more than two checked bags with no extra charge but this year may be different.
Chris Sessions

Effective October 11, 2001, each ticketed passenger is allowed only one carry-on bag plus one personal item, such as a purse, briefcase or laptop computer, and two checked bags. An excess fee is charged for each additional piece of checked luggage. During peak travel times when flights are especially full, excess baggage may follow on a later flight due to space limitations.

What are the weight and size guidelines of checked baggage?

For travel between points in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, each piece of checked luggage may weigh up to 70 pounds. An excess weight fee is charged for any bag weighing between 71 and 100 pounds.

No single piece of checked baggage may weigh more than 100 pounds. This policy applies to online and interline checked baggage, including all codeshare partners. Any piece in excess of 100 pounds must be forwarded via air cargo or alternative means arranged by the customer.

The maximum size for each checked bag is 62 linear inches (length + width + height). If the size of a checked bag exceeds these limits, an oversize fee is assessed.

How much dry ice may I take?

Dry ice may be placed in carry on and checked baggage subject to the following limitations:
In all cases, the packaging must allow for the release of carbon dioxide gas. For carry-on baggage, each person may carry up to 4 pounds of dry ice. In checked baggage, the limit is 5 pounds per package. The package must be marked with the net weight of the dry ice or the statement that the net weight of dry ice is 5 pounds or less. The name of the contents being cooled, along with the words "Dry Ice" or "Carbon Dioxide, Solid" must be on the outside of the package.
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Old 01-11-2002, 06:38 PM   #18
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

Drifter, the way I have been doing it has saved me money and has worked just fine. I reuse my fish boxes and each seems to hold up for about three trips. I pack my boots, clam guns etc in the boxes and send them north as baggage. Two boxes per person as checked baggage. When I come home I mail the clam guns and my cloths in cheap waxed boxes from Deep Creek(Ninilchick)or Kassiloff post offices. Two boxes of cloths and gear come home for less than $40. I check two 70 lb boxes of fish with the airline. AK, Delta and
United all do this with no problem. It is always best to check in at the curb and give them a $10
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Old 01-11-2002, 07:46 PM   #19
Join Date: Apr 2001
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Default Re: Bringing Home Alaska Fish?

:grin: :grin: Bigshark worked really hard today and his
spelling brain is out of gear.....kassiloff??
However, he had good info and I will modify it a little...
His son couldn't get all the gear he took there like his hip boots, packed for the flight home...
He carried a backpack with my favorite Alaskan rocks
for my classroom and he wore his hipboots right
off the beach to the plane from a clamming trip...
just get creative! And when one talks about how well everything stays frozen, you need to make sure that you do have a good cooler in case the fish and clams take a trip to Fairbanks instead
of Portland. :grin: :grin:
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