At Kenai Riverfront Resort, we offer a covered riverside fish cleaning table with water, as well as an indoor fish packing counter if you bring your own vacuum sealer & bags. We also have freezer space for the temporary storage of your fish during your stay. The two most important things to do with your fish, immediately after catching it, is to bleed it out in the river current by cutting or pulling the gills and securing it on a stringer, and cooling it in the cold river water or in a cooler with crushed ice. If cooling in the river, we recommend no more than 30~45 minutes to ensure maximum quality in the fillets as excessive time in the water will degrade and soften the flesh. Fresh caught fish left for even a short time without taking these steps will not taste fresh, in fact it won’t taste very good at all. We also recommend skinning your fish, both salmon & halibut, during the filleting process to forever separate the slime from the beautiful fresh fillets.
Every Alaska sourdough you come across will tell you how to fillet a fish, and while most agree on the same techniques and methods when filleting a halibut, there are a wide variety of approaches to filleting a salmon, particularly a King Salmon, whose larger than life size can really be intimidating to most fishermen who are used to Walleye, Bluegills, or Trout. For more information on our unique approach to preparing “ready to cook”, clean, skinless, 90% boneless, and portioned salmon fillets read our Alaska Salmon Filleting page that follows, describing our own method developed after years of filleting big Kings.
Our onsite Snack & Tack shop offers fillet service as well as filleting lessons if you’d like to work on expanding and improving your technique while you’re here!
Once filleted, several local professional fish processing facilities will custom process your catch, including vacuum sealing, and flash freezing to best preserve your bounty. You can also have your fish smoked, or trade some of your fresh catch for fish that is already processed. Most also sell commercial caught Alaska fish processed in a variety of ways (frozen, skinless, lox, kippered, etc.). We recommend Custom Seafood Processors, located less than 5 minutes from Kenai Riverfront Resort, just up in Soldotna
We always recommend that our guests take fish home with them on the airline, as checked baggage, using a hard side cooler or fish box (we prefer coolers). Inexpensive coolers, some even with wheels, can be bought at Fred Meyer or Safeway once you know how much fish you are taking home. The size cooler we recommend holds approximately 50 pounds of fish, keeping it within the airline weight restriction as well. Fish packed properly in a cooler (ideally vacuum sealed and flash frozen) will stay frozen for more than 3 days if not opened, so most flights home, even internationally, will ensure your fish is fine.
If you need to ship your fish home, or to family and friends, you can use a variety of local shippers, including Alaska Airlines Cargo, UPS, Fedex, and DHL. Contact the individual carriers for specific rate quotes.