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Thread: Kodiak (Kodiak City) Charters - Good Fishing / Questionable Processing

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    Member AKArcher's Avatar
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    Unhappy Kodiak (Kodiak City) Charters - Good Fishing / Questionable Processing

    This summer I had the opportunity to fish Kodiak in mid July. Two days on the salt and one day fishing the road system.

    I will start off by saying I enjoyed the opportunity to see Kodiak in its best weather ever... sunny, calm winds and not a drop of water in the sky! We were able to catch a lot of species all within a reasonable distance of port. The road system river system was loaded with fish and while the locals weren't too forthcoming with info - we were able to find the fish.

    The only downside of my Kodiak Charter experience was the processing of the fish. The "process" that they have in place appears to be super slick for all involved. The charters have a fish tote on the back deck that doubles as a work table while on the water. Once you're done for the day the captain motors up to one of the local processors dock and they offload the tote full of fish. A weight is documented on the receipt (no one on the boat sees this number on a scale) and we are told they will process the fish (including packaging and freezing). Now up to this point... I am okay with the way things are handled with the exception of weighing the catch on the dock where no one see's what the actual weight was; but I want to believe this process is on the up and up.

    After two days of halibut/salmon/rock-fish/cod fishing... we go up to collect the meat that has been processed for us.
    Note: The fish tote (1200lb on our boat) on Day 1 was over flowing. I am guessing somewhere near 60+ cod were put in the tote, 14 halibut (8 over and 6 under) with 5 or 6 over 40lbs largest being 80lbs, 40 rock fish and a ling cod or two.

    Day two had 35 rock fish, 7 or 8 salmon including one 25lb King, 11 halibut 7 over 29" and 4 under. The fish tote could close as we caught a few less halibut and no Cod.

    We split the catch 8 ways, and our processed fish return was 49lbs each - Just under 400lbs total.

    I was asked at the end of Day 2 what I thought we would be taking home as I am familiar with the meat yield on the species we were targeting; my estimate was about 35 lbs off per person - I guessed 650-700lbs total for the following:

    25 Halibut - 27b avg at 60% yield is 405lbs
    75 Rock Fish - 4lb avg at 40% yield is 120lbs
    8 Salmon - 12lb avg at 60% yield is 58lbs
    60 Cod - 4lbs avg at 40% yield is 96lbs
    2 Ling - 20lbs avg at 40% yield is 16lbs
    Total is about 695lbs of processed fish (which is close to what I guessed)

    I even dropped the yield 10% on all fish harvested...
    25 Halibut - 27b avg at 50% yield is 337lbs
    75 Rock-fish - 4lb avg at 30% yield is 90lbs
    8 Salmon - 12lb avg at 50% yield is 48lbs
    60 Cod - 4lbs avg at 30% yield is 72lbs
    2 Ling - 20lbs avg at 30% yield is 12lbs
    Total is about 560lbs of processed fish


    So I have a two part question here:

    1. Are my yield percentages way off?

    By what I and others who are in the charter industry or have fished in AK for 15+ years confirm to be fair/accurate percentages we are missing nearly 300lbs of fish. By the adjusted yields we are still missing 160lbs of fillets.

    2. Has anyone else on the forum experienced this? I had a conversation with a charter operator in Seward this weekend and he said I am the 6th or 7th person who has had this same experience and feels the same way - I will not be returning to Kodiak (city) for a salt water chartered trip.

    I have purposefully left out the names of the Charter Company and the Fish Processor - feel free to PM if you care to know who they are.
    Last edited by AKArcher; 08-25-2015 at 14:48. Reason: Fix a few typos
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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I think they kept some of your fish. Personally, I would have to see the scale. I would demand to see the scale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    I think they kept some of your fish. Personally, I would have to see the scale. I would demand to see the scale.
    Hind sight is 20/20... Agree with you.

    The boat you are on is 10-15 feet below the dock, requires crawling up a shady looking ladder. In a rushed environment a processor rep comes down and asks a series of questions regarding skinning the fillets etc. One receipt is produced and the boat moves out of the way to get the next charter boat in... no real opportunity for a curious customer to check the scale - which I am sure is forbidden due to the risk associated with going up and down the ladder.... All ingredients to a shady operation in my opinion.

    Screw me over once - shame on you. You wont get another chance to do it again.
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    I agree with your yield expectations for Rock Fish, Salmon and Cod. Don’t have enough experience to say regarding Halibut or Ling Cod, but I suspect you are accurate there as well.

    On the face of it, it sure looks like they shorted you a significant amount of fish, and if the Charter operator in Seward has heard this story a number of times, then it sounds like a serious amount of fish is being stolen from charter fishermen.

    One would assume that the local authorities in Kodiak would be interested in hearing about his.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Pretty doubtful a charter operator or commercial fish processor would jeopardize their livelihoods for 300lbs of fish. What did they say when you asked them? Is your assumption the processor is selling sport caught fish?

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    Member redleader's Avatar
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    I loved fishing out of Kodiak.
    The processors did a good job for us but we filleted all our own fish, all the free ice we wanted and caught our herring right in front of the processors, private boat though.
    What was the weight prior to processing?
    Did you tell them you thought you were shorted?
    I've seen screw ups, lost fish etc. out of Homer and Seward also.
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    Member AKArcher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbflyer View Post
    Pretty doubtful a charter operator or commercial fish processor would jeopardize their livelihoods for 300lbs of fish. What did they say when you asked them? Is your assumption the processor is selling sport caught fish?
    No assumptions - just noting that something wasn't right.
    The front desk employee repeated himself in broken English "Each person get almost 50lbs sir - total amount almost 400 lbs."

    But the reality is:

    It's convenient for a customer to take home a 50lb box of fish vs two mixed weight boxes (cheaper for them and easier to deal with).
    A very high percentage of Kodiak's charter clientele are likely tourists that don't know what the yield percentages are.
    There was a lot of fish caught in those two days for only 400lbs of fillets.
    Unless the customers were afforded the time on the boat to fillet the fish and transfer the fillets to be processed - they know you have no exact knowledge of what you should be picking up.

    I can see being 10% off but nearly half of the expected weight is a bit bogus.
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


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    Quote Originally Posted by redleader View Post
    I loved fishing out of Kodiak.
    The processors did a good job for us but we filleted all our own fish, all the free ice we wanted and caught our herring right in front of the processors, private boat though.
    What was the weight prior to processing?
    Did you tell them you thought you were shorted?
    I've seen screw ups, lost fish etc. out of Homer and Seward also.
    I wasn't the one holding the hand written receipt - not sure what the pre-processed weight was. I will ask the trip coordinator to see if he has it.

    In Seward the processing either happens on the boat on the way back to port or on the dock. Once that is done the capt/crew or customer takes the fish and weigh it when you drop it off to be processed. All of those areas present the customer the processed weight of their catch.

    None of the steps above were done in the customers eye sight in our two days on the water.
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


    AKArcher

  9. #9

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    Have had many bad experiences with the fish processor in Kodiak. Once went on a charter and we caught 5-6 lingcod with the largest being 74 lbs (on their scale) and a 40lber and the rest smaller ones. 7 anglers ended up with 3lbs/each (total 21 lbs) of processed lingcod. And just last year we tallied up all our weigh tickets from drop-offs at the processor (coho) and using the industry standard for yield we were shorted about 45 lbs. This year we will be processing our own fish and with the help of our bed and breakfast host we will seal and freeze our own catch. Really sad when we have patronized this processor for the past 8-9 years and they pull a stunt like this. Live and learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKArcher View Post
    No assumptions - just noting that something wasn't right.
    The front desk employee repeated himself in broken English "Each person get almost 50lbs sir - total amount almost 400 lbs."

    But the reality is:

    It's convenient for a customer to take home a 50lb box of fish vs two mixed weight boxes (cheaper for them and easier to deal with).
    A very high percentage of Kodiak's charter clientele are likely tourists that don't know what the yield percentages are.
    There was a lot of fish caught in those two days for only 400lbs of fillets.
    Unless the customers were afforded the time on the boat to fillet the fish and transfer the fillets to be processed - they know you have no exact knowledge of what you should be picking up.

    I can see being 10% off but nearly half of the expected weight is a bit bogus.
    Thats a shame if their shorting fish on purpose, thanks for letting others know to watch out.
    Redleader standing by

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    There is one operation that I won't drop clients to, won't say who, I never have, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for my counterpart that said he won't take his clients fish there either. I most likely know who you delivered too, and I've seen the scales, they are on the up and up and the guy the that runs the place is a great guy. That being said, with the amount of fish they process, there is bound to be a mix up here and there, I've had it happen in places other than Kodiak, it sucks I know. No matter the line of work, with large scale operations, there are bound to be mistakes and snafoos. I think you're numbers a little off, but I still think you may have gotten shorted, but I would not say it was intentional, nor the norm. I deal with Pickled Willies mostly now, nothing against the larger processor, but with my smaller boat, pulling up to the dock is tougher for me. Pickled Willies, they come to my dock to get the fish, so it's not rushed, no line, you will talk to the guys doing the cleaning.
    Life's to short for an ugly boat

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abel View Post
    There is one operation that I won't drop clients to, won't say who, I never have, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for my counterpart that said he won't take his clients fish there either. I most likely know who you delivered too, and I've seen the scales, they are on the up and up and the guy the that runs the place is a great guy. That being said, with the amount of fish they process, there is bound to be a mix up here and there, I've had it happen in places other than Kodiak, it sucks I know. No matter the line of work, with large scale operations, there are bound to be mistakes and snafoos. I think you're numbers a little off, but I still think you may have gotten shorted, but I would not say it was intentional, nor the norm. I deal with Pickled Willies mostly now, nothing against the larger processor, but with my smaller boat, pulling up to the dock is tougher for me. Pickled Willies, they come to my dock to get the fish, so it's not rushed, no line, you will talk to the guys doing the cleaning.
    Thanks for chiming in Abel...

    Knowing there are options with one on one customer service is nice.

    How open to using the customers preferred processor is the rest of the fleet? And I didn't look around the small boat harbor - but is there a cleaning station for anglers to fillet their fish since most charters go direct to the filleting/processors?

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    Yes, both sides, town and Near Island have decent fish processing tables and I believe Pickled Willies will vac pack for you if you don't have vac pack means. I can't/won't speak for the rest of the operators on how they operate when it comes to fish processing. I make my recommendations to the crew, but it's their call in the end.
    Life's to short for an ugly boat

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbflyer View Post
    Pretty doubtful a charter operator or commercial fish processor would jeopardize their livelihoods for 300lbs of fish. What did they say when you asked them? Is your assumption the processor is selling sport caught fish?
    It may be that the processor didn't know about it either. I had a similar problem with a processor in another coastal town. The worker repeatedly told me I only brought in chum salmon and I kept telling him I know I brought in reds. After arguing for about 15 minutes I asked to see the manager. Two minutes later the employee showed up with my fish and a lame excuse about how mine were hidden behind someone else's fish. Personally, I think some of the workers have found a way to profit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKArcher View Post

    25 Halibut - 27b avg at 60% yield is 405lbs
    75 Rock Fish - 4lb avg at 40% yield is 120lbs
    8 Salmon - 12lb avg at 60% yield is 58lbs
    60 Cod - 4lbs avg at 40% yield is 96lbs
    2 Ling - 20lbs avg at 40% yield is 16lbs
    Total is about 695lbs of processed fish (which is close to what I guessed)
    You'll have to do the math cuzz I don't have time this morning.

    Halibut yield is lower for small fish than large. If all those fish were in the 20's, I'd expect closer to 45-50%.
    Yield on black/dusky rockfish is 30% at best with belly flaps left on the fillets, closer to 25% without.
    Bout right on head and gut salmon, closer to 40-45% on fillets.
    Every cod processor in the country would be lots richer at 40%. A very good machine fillet is going to run 35%. Best hand filleters run around 32% on large fish, 25% or so on fish under 5#.
    Ling is about right on.

    Those #'s are for skilled filleters. Less for newbies.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    As a charter guy who also processes the catch, filleting, vacuum packing and freezeing then boxing the catch, we see that 50% of our customers think we are stealing thier fish and demand to see our freezers. I also talked with the other processer here and he had the same response from his clients. From what I've seen salmon fill boxes more that ling cod, rockfish and Pcod.
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    We have instincts and gut feelings for a reason....often for self preservation. If it smells fishy...it usually is. Sorry to hear that this happened to you AKArcher or others.

    Many, many tourist anglers or any angler for that matter may have "big eyes" when they see "all those big fish they caught". Heck, lots of us may increase the span of our hands apart during a fish story.

    And then the processed fish look so much smaller and less than before.

    I've always done my own fish for the last 15 years of AK fishing and know that salmon do yield a nice pair of fillets due to their shape.
    Whereas rockfish, lings, p-cod, etc. yield much smaller fillets due to having such large heads. eg- a relatively big Quillback gives you a pound or so at most.

    This particular Halibut taped at 66" with me beside it at 74". The fish came up to my ear. Weighed out at 149# and yielded exactly 73 #of meat. So real close to 50% and I thought 60% was the going rate. Since this was the first big halibut of that lodge's season, there was an agreement to share the fish all around.

    Still, it sounds like something fishy may have occurred with the OP's processing.
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    Thanks to all for chiming in.

    I was thinking of you KodiakCombo when I posted this thread - so I specified Kodiak (City) instead of the whole island.

    BrownBear - I reran the numbers based on your suggested yield percentages - 45% on Hali, 25% on Rocks, 50% on Salmon, 25% on Cod and 40% on Lings. Total is still over 500lbs of fillets

    I've been ocean fishing on charters and personal vessels for 11 years now with well over 200 days logged and loads of multi-species filleted packaged and consumed. I questioned the captain on my first big fish in 2006; actually I asked him "what about that meat over the belly" more to learn than accuse him of shorting me or leaving meat on the carcass. Based on my own filleting experience I'm quite familiar with the Halibut and Salmon yields, not so much with cod/lings and rock fish.

    Like I said in one of my follow up posts - if I had predicted 600lbs and we got 540, I would have chalked it up to bad guess on my part for the cod/lings/rock-fish.

    Something wasn't right in my gut when I realized what the process for the fish processing would be... However I held my tongue and judgement and allowed it to play out.

    Thanks again to all who responded - while the numbers are a little bit closer now that my understanding of the yield percentages has been fine tuned - I still am a little leery of this particular processing situation.
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakcombo View Post
    As a charter guy who also processes the catch, filleting, vacuum packing and freezeing then boxing the catch, we see that 50% of our customers think we are stealing thier fish and demand to see our freezers. I also talked with the other processer here and he had the same response from his clients. From what I've seen salmon fill boxes more that ling cod, rockfish and Pcod.
    Does this happen regularly with anglers who are familiar with the typical meat yield on the species you are targeting?
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


    AKArcher

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    The processors I know also buy commercial fish. I guess I would just wonder what a commercial buyer/processor would do with "liberated" sport caught fish? They have pretty strict record keeping requirements for the commercial fish they buy. It would be extremely difficult and require some very creative bookkeeping in order to mix in sport fish that have been pinched from a charter with the commercial stock.

    Unless they are a commercial processor/seller, they can't sell anything, legally. If they are only a custom processor, not a commercial buyer/processor, there would be no outlet. Make no mistake, in these small towns someone ALWAYS knows what a business is doing and will dime illegal activities to the proper authorities in a heartbeat.

    Bummer deal at any rate. Hope you are able to make peace with it somehow. Hopefully just a mix up. The lack of English is hard to swallow in the customer service business.

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