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Thread: mushy silvers

  1. #1

    Default mushy silvers

    Since I didn't get many sockeye this year we took a trip down to Valdez just before Labor Day. A friend who lives there took us out in his boat and we got 17 silvers. All the fish were bled and put in a large cooler, but without ice. They were filleted and in the freezer within 7 hours of the first fish caught. I just thawed a bunch and they seemed pretty mushy. I smoked them and many of strips are just mush. I know it wasn't the brine or smoking, as I had some sockeye in there and they came out fine. And I've smoked silvers before that were great; these are just flat out mushy. Anyone have any experience like this with silvers from Valdez? I also notice the meat is pretty pale. Some silvers I've caught out of Seward seem almost as red as a sockeye, but these are more pinkish. They have the spots, so they're definitely not chums.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  2. #2
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Pinks

    Are you sure it was not a fresh ocean pink? They are still coming in as are new silvers. There are aslo some chums and reds out there. Don't rush for the reds. It is a very small run that comes up behind my house.

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  3. #3

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    I've had this problem as well and I'm convinced I've been keeping pinks and not silvers. Is there a clear cut way to tell them apart straight out of the salt, i've heard conflicting reports. Attatched is a pic of three "silvers" can anyone tell me if these are in fact cohos? And if they are these fish had the type of meet descibed above; slightly mushy and have a pale pink color instead of the deep dark red that I am used to.
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Armo_Ak View Post
    Is there a clear cut way to tell them apart straight out of the salt, i've heard conflicting reports.
    The easiest way is to take a very close look at their tails. Pinks will have large spots on their tails that seem somewhat hollow in the middle (the best I can describe it). Silvers will have silver streaks or a large silver splotch on their tail (though chums have the streaks as well - just not as many). Silvers will also have very small black dots on their back, while pinks have much larger spots.

    Those look like silvers to me due to their size (pinks average 3-5 pounds), but it's hard to be sure without a close tail inspection.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Also, take a look at the salmon identification chart provided by Fish and Game. That should help. Note that pinks have much smaller scales than the other salmon species.

  6. #6

    Default Valdez Silvers

    There were a lot of fish in Valdez that were not chrome bright. Many of the bucks were blushed. We let go all the fish that were starting to turn into their spawning colors. I caught silvers in the Anchor River the week before that were dime bright compared to a dull silver on some of the Valdez fish. This may have contributed to the lack of color and firmness in your meat?

  7. #7
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Default Ice?

    No ice might have been in play with the problem.

    kingfisherktn

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    Default Pinks

    I usually look at the scales, large scales, Coho, small scales, pink.
    Also, Coho will have a green tint to their back when they come up beside the boat.
    EyeFish has a great pic of this he posted on another board.

  9. #9
    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Default

    Excellent pic armo-you fellas are cheesed out, looks like you had a blast! BTW those look like silvers.


    Tim

  10. #10
    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default pinks vs cohos

    Quote Originally Posted by Armo_Ak View Post
    I've had this problem as well and I'm convinced I've been keeping pinks and not silvers. Is there a clear cut way to tell them apart straight out of the salt, i've heard conflicting reports. Attatched is a pic of three "silvers" can anyone tell me if these are in fact cohos? And if they are these fish had the type of meet descibed above; slightly mushy and have a pale pink color instead of the deep dark red that I am used to.

    The fish on the left and right are definitely cohos. The middle one sure looks like one too, but it's hard to say definitively without seeing the fish closer up or see the tail. Ocean bright pinks don't always show the large spots on their backs well, but you can pretty much always see them on their tail

    It's been pointed out that the cohos have quite a bit of silver flecking in their tail rays. Chums and kings do too (chums less than silvers, kings same or more). This silver flecking seems to fade or go away when they're transitioning into fresh water/spawning colors.

    On a side note, you can tell a chum from a coho by the caudal peduncle (where tail meets body) -- cohos are very broad and stout, chums are narrower.

    I think lack of ice may be one of the main culprits for soft fish mentioned earlier. And, since cohos are still very active feeders, it's also a good idea to get the guts out after the fish is bled and get ice into the body cavity if possible.

  11. #11

    Default not pinks

    These were definitely not pinks...ran about 8 to 15 pounds...I'm familiar with pinks, the oval blotches, small scales, etc. I guess a couple could have been chums. I'll check out the fillet's closer, but I did see the spots on the backs of most when cleaning them. I remember a friend brought back some silvers from Valdez a couple of years ago and gave me some. They, too, were mushy when thawed. In fact, I think I threw them out they were so bad. I assumed the weren't properly cared for or something. And while we didn't ice the fish, it was a relatively cool day, they weren't subjected to sunlight, and were all filleted and in the freezer within 6-7 hours. Are chums known for being mushy?
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  12. #12
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    Default frozen fish

    I believe there are two factors that can impact the quality of the fish in this case. One is the individual fish water content on freezing and the other is how the fish was handled in the boat.

    Mushy fish comes from freezing as water expands and tears the flesh. If the flesh has a high water content then more tearing. Coho appear to have this problem over sockeye and chinook. The amount of oil in the flesh also impacts the freezing impacts.

    Also, different coho can have different water content. I have frozen 6 coho from the same trip and had three be mushy and three great. All treated the same.

    How the flesh tears on preparing the fish for storage can be an issue. If the flesh is treated rough more tears in the flesh more mushy on freezing. Commercial buyers look for this when they purchase fish. They do not want tears in the flesh.

    I researched this some when I had my fish do this so I think if you google coho salmon quality mushy you might find the same articles that I did.

  13. #13

    Default Ice

    I just fished in Valdez for four days. The first day we did not ice our fish immediately and noticed that the filets on the first fish we caught were somewhat soft--not bad enough to call mushy but noticeably soft. The next three days we kept plenty of ice on board and made sure all the fish were iced quickly. I did not notice another soft filet the rest of the trip. We were catching a limit in less than two hours so I would have to guess that ice could have been the difference. Just my guess. We picked up the shaved ice at the gas station for 3$ a bucket and filled up atleast one cooler each day before heading out. I would try this next time and see if it helps. Just my guess.

  14. #14
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Default

    If you don't gut silvers that are still feeding right away enzymes in their stomachs will make the meat mushy.

    Chums are known to be mushy, fresh ocean pinks, from the ones I've eaten are just as good as coho...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  15. #15

    Default

    we bleed, then gut shortly there after, then get on ice. It definatly makes for a better product. I've also noticed mushy fish from my family on trips to valdez handle in the very manner you have described. Take the time to take care of them and they'll taste as good as any king!

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nickster View Post
    Since I didn't get many sockeye this year we took a trip down to Valdez just before Labor Day. A friend who lives there took us out in his boat and we got 17 silvers. All the fish were bled and put in a large cooler, but without ice. They were filleted and in the freezer within 7 hours of the first fish caught. I just thawed a bunch and they seemed pretty mushy. I smoked them and many of strips are just mush. I know it wasn't the brine or smoking, as I had some sockeye in there and they came out fine. And I've smoked silvers before that were great; these are just flat out mushy. Anyone have any experience like this with silvers from Valdez? I also notice the meat is pretty pale. Some silvers I've caught out of Seward seem almost as red as a sockeye, but these are more pinkish. They have the spots, so they're definitely not chums.
    This has been my observation with silvers in the past three years:
    1. Early saltwater silvers seemed to have more firm meat. I have noticed from stomach contents that the silvers I caught in July had been eating and the ones in mid-August had empty stomachs and intestines even though both had been caught in salt water. The later fish were much closer in (by 10 to 15 miles or so).
    2. Males seem to have more firm meat than the females.
    3. Early female coho (June-July) had tiny premature eggs, where the later (mid-August) coho hens had swollen eggs, almost as coho that had been in fresh water.

    These are obeservations by me only, and I have nothing but my own careful observation to back this up. It seems that the silvers go through some similar changes as they do when entering fresh water, even though they are staying in salt water. These observations were in Resurrection Bay only, and included 300 to 400 fish this past 2007 summer. (I filleted all fish caught in my boat). I would be interested if anyone else had noticed anything similar.

    Is this the case in Valdez, late silvers? I do not know, but just some thoughts.
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  17. #17
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    Default Lengthy Freezing Time...

    ...can cause really soft coho. Most home freezers take a heck of a long time to freeze your fish - six to ten hours to freeze to the core (longer if you slug its system with a lot of BTUs in packages of warm flesh).

    In a "past life" I worked in seafood processing quality control. Nerka had the right idea in his post - prolonged freezing times and the growth of ice crystals over that period in the flesh of fish just tears the connective tissue in salmon flesh to shreds. The process can be made even worse by putting fillets into the freezer just as they are going into rigor. The combination of the forming ice crystals and the tensing of the flesh going through rigor mortis produces a fillet that has the texture of a limp rag. A lot of the natural oils are able to drain off the fillets because of the damage on the molecular level and this alone can cause a change of flavor.

  18. #18
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default I think

    I think I have had it happen too. Just never paid much attention to it. Was probably becasue they were not on ice. We just had our first rain since August this weekend. August was one of the driest on record down here. I will be out on Sat. somewhere hunting so I can look for more coming into port.

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  19. #19

    Default

    Some very interesting information posted - thanks! These fish were almost all quite bright, with only one big buck showing the faintest blush. However, the female egg sacks were huge and ripe, and the bucks milt sacks quite large as well. And we were in pretty close to the harbor, maybe 2-5 miles out. The fish got divided into two freezers and while one batch was rock hard the following morning, the other was still a little soft. Maybe I'll wind up with what Nerka got - some mushy fillets and some good ones. And next time I'll bring ice and gut the fish as well. Sounds like there may be inherent reasons for lesser quality silvers as well as processing reasons; I can modify the latter anyway. I guess I'll be making lots of salmon dip with this particular batch.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  20. #20
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Armo_Ak View Post
    I've had this problem as well and I'm convinced I've been keeping pinks and not silvers. Is there a clear cut way to tell them apart straight out of the salt, i've heard conflicting reports. Attatched is a pic of three "silvers" can anyone tell me if these are in fact cohos? And if they are these fish had the type of meet descibed above; slightly mushy and have a pale pink color instead of the deep dark red that I am used to.

    No ifs ands or buts...every last one is a coho in that pic!

    Nerka is spot on with his water content analysis.

    I first became aware of the coho "mush factor" when dealing with Resurrection Bay hatchery silvers versus Kenai River silvers. The Res Bay fish are paler orange and quite mushy compared to the deeper red-meated rock-hard Kenai coho. Ask any of the fish handlers at Kenai Riverbend (they book chartered fishing trips to both places), they make no bones about it.... Kenai fish = prime coho.... Res Bay fish = MUSH!

    I wonder how much of it has to do with the osmo-regulatory change these fish must undergo as they transition to freshwater? Nerka?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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