Friday, May 10, 2013



I spend nine months of the year “Outside” and my summers commercial fishing in South Naknek Alaska. Recently, I was at my writers group and talking about getting ready for fish camp. There are a million things to do this time of year. Where we fish there are no markets, pharmacy, or Starbucks. It’s remote. But my group of fellow authors started to joke and giggle. Every time I mentioned fish camp they saw a tent and little cartoon fish roasting marshmallows over a campfire swapping stories on how they got off the ‘hook’.

So, I thought I’d share with you what our fish camp entails. A large portion of other fish camps around the State of Alaska operate this way.

First, no running water, electricity, cell phones, Internet, and the before mentioned Starbucks. Instead we deal with outhouses, generators, and what food you can’t catch, you eat out of a can. Second, bears, weather, and the ocean RULE. If you find yourself in a situation, and can’t get out of it on your own, you usually don’t make it. Every day is a challenge and a fight. They call it Bristol Bay combat fishing, and it’s a wild, unforgiving place.

There seems to be more reasons not to be out there fishing than in favor of it. Here are some pluses. No electricity, cell phones, or Internet; and wildlife, the ocean, and the opportunity to make a lot of money in a short amount of time. Most importantly, time to spend with family, unplugged from civilization.

We play card games, cook, have dinner together, target practice, beachcomb, work and joke around together. Bond. Reconnecting in this crazy, busy world and building relationships is the absolute best thing about fish camp. Though the money doesn’t hurt.

Here is one of my favorite salmon recipes, and I have some dandies.

A fillet or two of Wild Alaskan Salmon
Basil pesto - home-made or store-bought (I use a small jar of store-bought pesto)
Lemon juice
Parmesan cheese
Pine nuts - optional
Sliced tomatoes - optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the salmon fillet into serving sizes, and pull out the pin bones. This doesn't take very long and is easy to do. If you don't have a pin bone tool, pliers work great. Squeeze on lemon juice, coat on pesto as thick as you like, and top with parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Test with a fork. When the flesh flakes, it's done. I usually serve this over rice. I start the rice before I slather on the pesto and they both are done about the same time.

Tasty and so good for you!

Tiffinie Helmer’s latest Romance Novel in her Edge Series, 'HOOKED', will be released May 13th.
Visit her website for more information. 


Violetta Rand said...

You REALLY made me laugh with the cartoon fish camp image...

Love it.

I spent time in King Salmon and one of my greatest friends owns a commercial boat down there. Only warriors can handle it!

So cheers to the lady Viking... Slay some for us!

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Violetta, what's the name of your friend's boat? King Salmon is a happen' place. :)

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great post! Yummy recipe! And I notice from your picture some of your family members like tomatoes and others don't--looks like my house!

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Lynn, we are a divided family. There are 6 of us and we are split down the middle with tomatoes, olives, and artichokes.

MaryMargaret Tucker said...

Love this article...spent 13 summers in South Naknek, and still feel the urge to go every spring! Thanks for giving me a little piece of my past back!

Tiffinie Helmer said...

MaryMargaret, Barb Blanc is my mother and we fish down the beach by the Fords. Chances are you know her and them. Glad I could give you a little piece of your past back.

Anonymous said...

Tiff, love this reminder of my second summer in Alaska, drift-net out of Dillingham. What a wonderful experience-and don't need to do it again, thanks.My knees will never be the same:-).

Tiffinie Helmer said...

DeNise, I hear you about the knees. My mom has already had both of hers replaced and I've had one surgery and I've been told I'll need new ones in about 15 years. Fishing is hard on your body, but an experience.