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Thread: Halibut processing on longer trips

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    Default Halibut processing on longer trips

    I've always had to keep the fillets whole with a little piece skin attached. I'd freeze up the whole fillets with wax paper in between so I could get them apart later and chop them up into package size pieces when I got to shore. I called the feds to see if there was anyway I could package them in smaller packages while on the water. He said no that they had to be in whole fillets, but he said what he does is score the fillets into the desired size so that he can break them up and vacuum pack them when he gets home. I'm sure a lot of people do this, but I'm kinda slow on the uptick so I thought I'd share.

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    Great idea. Not everybody has access to a meat saw, and thawing the fillets to cut them down to meal portions and then re-freezing really degrades the quality of the fish.

    Big_E

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    You can only keep one possession limit of Halibut while out on the Salt. 2 days worth. They'll gitcha if you keep more. Even if frozen.

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    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    I have always had a big problem with AKF&G treatment of boats than can stay out a few days and truly enjoy the Alaskan experience.

    This is what I do and have not gone to jail yet.

    I filet the first days catch into whole filets then cut those pieces so that they can fit into gallon Ziplock bags. In a seperate bag I keep all full skins of the filets, after that, as I have said I then cut the actual filet into portions that actually fit into the gallon Ziplock bags. With the entire skin you can, at the docks reassemble the clean food on to the slimy and dirty skin (Rockfish especially) and show AKF&G that your catch was legal. I also use the I-pod to photo all filets before the dissassembly. The photos have a date time stamp in properties, cant be disputed in court.

    The thing that AKDF&G does not understand is that the harvest is to eat and meat on meat is way better than meat on skin with either Halibut or rockfish, slime bacteria and other nasty stuff ....... what I do creates leagaly something called Reasonable Doubt in the mind of the judge or jurry .....

    Never been tested on this one, all of the F&G guys I have meet understood and "let me off the hook"

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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnfish View Post
    I have always had a big problem with AKF&G treatment of boats than can stay out a few days and truly enjoy the Alaskan experience.

    This is what I do and have not gone to jail yet.

    I filet the first days catch into whole filets then cut those pieces so that they can fit into gallon Ziplock bags. In a seperate bag I keep all full skins of the filets, after that, as I have said I then cut the actual filet into portions that actually fit into the gallon Ziplock bags. With the entire skin you can, at the docks reassemble the clean food on to the slimy and dirty skin (Rockfish especially) and show AKF&G that your catch was legal. I also use the I-pod to photo all filets before the dissassembly. The photos have a date time stamp in properties, cant be disputed in court.

    The thing that AKDF&G does not understand is that the harvest is to eat and meat on meat is way better than meat on skin with either Halibut or rockfish, slime bacteria and other nasty stuff ....... what I do creates leagaly something called Reasonable Doubt in the mind of the judge or jurry .....

    Never been tested on this one, all of the F&G guys I have meet understood and "let me off the hook"
    It is not Fish and Game it is NOAA Fisheries Enforcement now on the Halibut and you will get a ticket if you do that and you get caught. The best thing to do is clean the fish commercially and pack them in ice.
    All the logic in the world doesn't help if you break the law. I asked about this a hundred different ways.
    I think the bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with staying out longer and enjoying the "Alaskan Experience" just don't keep too many fish and you can still enjoy it. The law is very clear that you have to keep the fillets whole and not take the skin off until you process it.

    So if you take the skin off, you have broken the law and in Seward, our enforcement is all about the letter of the law. do I agree with that…no I think you are doing everything to you can to active your personal objective and be responsible but you will get a ticket and if you go to court, there will be no doubt that you broke the law….

    Just saying, I have gotten my share of tickets for a lot less than that…

  6. #6

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    I agree with the NOAA regs. Whole fillet, skin on. Any other way, and people will be abusing and skirting the limits on a finite resource. The daily limits and the possession limits are extremely generous for the private boater. As AK capt mentioned, clean em commercially, and pack them in ice in a tote. They'll last 5 days just fine that way.

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    OK dumb question here. How do you clean them commercially? Just gut them or what?
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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    OK dumb question here. How do you clean them commercially? Just gut them or what?
    On commercial boats they remove the entrails ( guts) and gonads - they are deep in the cavity and the bloodline. The also scrape out the small meat around the spine. So you end up with the head on and no gills, or guts of any kind. It is pretty easy but tough if you have limited space. You can even remove the head.
    Bottom line is that the meat is preserved much better if you keep it in tack and cool it down. Once you open it up and fillet it, unless you do a very , very thourgh job of rinsing the meat, it is going to be exposed to bacteria on the skin that we see as slime. Once you get back to the dock you can keep the meat much cleaner because you have more room to clean it.

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Ok. Thanks for the info. Good to know since we are planning a couple longer trips out on PWS this summer.
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  10. #10

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    We carry a suction vacuum packer. Cut the Halibut into the four fillets with skin on, wash very well to try to remove the slime, then roll out a bag long enough to take the whole fillet, we carry 8" and 11" rolls. We vacuum pack the whole fillet and put it in the freezer. With two of us four halibut could be all we want for the year. Two years ago three halibut gave us what we wanted for the year. When we get home we take the fillet out of the bag cut it into portions and re-seal it into smaller bags. This allows us to stay out a week or ten days and keep our fish in good shape. After four halibut we target something else or go for hikes, etc..

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    One more thing the poster I saw the other day at the harbor indicated you need to save the cheeks also. Not sure this is true but we do anyway.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Are you required to leave the whole skin on or just a piece large enough to identify which side of the fish it came from?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    Are you required to leave the whole skin on or just a piece large enough to identify which side of the fish it came from?
    Here is a link to the NOAA halibut reg summary for sport caught halibut: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sust...regsummary.htm

    It only states "...with skin on all pieces". This doesn't seem to state how much skin on each piece though. Before I tried only leaving a small part, I would suggest contacting NOAA directly and verifying the rules.

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    Just called Bob at NOAA in Juneau and he said just a small piece of skin naturally attached to each fillet is fine.

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Kbarnes.
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    Member joebut1985's Avatar
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    Ok, I am glad this discussion has came up. A couple of friends and I are planning a multiple day trip, 3 to be exact out of Seward for memorial day. We are not planning on coming back to shore until the last day. If I fillet the halibut and put it in a cooler with ice can I technically keep more than my 2 day possession if I "commercially" clean them? Or do I have to return to town and have them frozen or processed for consumption.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joebut1985 View Post
    Ok, I am glad this discussion has came up. A couple of friends and I are planning a multiple day trip, 3 to be exact out of Seward for memorial day. We are not planning on coming back to shore until the last day. If I fillet the halibut and put it in a cooler with ice can I technically keep more than my 2 day possession if I "commercially" clean them? Or do I have to return to town and have them frozen or processed for consumption.
    2 per day / 4 in possession.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnfish View Post
    This is what I do and have not gone to jail yet.

    I filet the first days catch into whole filets then cut those pieces ... and show AKF&G that your catch was legal. I also use the I-pod to photo all filets before the dissassembly. The photos have a date time stamp in properties, cant be disputed in court.
    Not finding fault with you. You're not taking overlimit or doing anything against the resource, but I can't help thinking that the only thing that won't be disputed whatsoever in court is how helpful you were in furnishing evidence to convict yourself - just like Jeff King happily handing over his GPS to the Troopers - who true to their word did indeed hold that against him.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by joebut1985 View Post
    Ok, I am glad this discussion has came up. A couple of friends and I are planning a multiple day trip, 3 to be exact out of Seward for memorial day. We are not planning on coming back to shore until the last day. If I fillet the halibut and put it in a cooler with ice can I technically keep more than my 2 day possession if I "commercially" clean them? Or do I have to return to town and have them frozen or processed for consumption.
    As agp said, only the two day's possession limit. Regs for this can be found here: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sust...regsummary.htm Check out section 28, subsection c.

    "28. Sport Fishing for Halibut - Areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E
    • (1) In Convention waters in and off Alaska:*
      • (a) The sport fishing season is from February 1 to December 31.
      • (b) The daily bag limit is two halibut of any size per day per person unless a more restrictive bag limit applies in Commission regulations or Federal regulations at 50 CFR 300.65.
      • (c) No person may possess more than two daily bag limits.
      • (d) No person shall possess on board a vessel, including charter vessels and pleasure craft used for fishing, halibut that have been filleted, mutilated, or otherwise disfigured in any manner, except that each halibut may be cut into no more than 2 ventral pieces, 2 dorsal pieces, and 2 cheek pieces, with skin on all pieces.
      • (e) Halibut in excess of the possession limit in paragraph (1)(c) of this section may be possessed on a vessel that does not contain sport fishing gear, fishing rods, hand lines, or gaffs."

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    Member Trakn's Avatar
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    The more I read the more confusing this gets. Can you fillet halibut on your boat and freeze them? I do this at home and never leave the skin on,, is this wrong? Most people I know completly remove the skin then cut up there fillets in 2lb. packs and freeze. I've had J dock do this. Do out of state guided fisherman only haul back 4 halibut to the states and do you have to keep a 80lb. halibut fillet whole?

    It seems to me I should be able to chunk up a few halibut and freeze them on my boat.

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