Have you ever fished in Alaska

From Alaska to Constance: David Clarke and Julia Schlitius are passionate fishermen

Well, bikini weather isn’t, says David Clarke with a smile through his dark gray beard. The frost is still hanging on the roofs over Stephansplatz and the people walking through the weekly market in Constance are wrapped up in winter. "But it's not really cold." His Norwegian hat is loose, his mustard-colored parka is only half buttoned. Clarke is used to temperatures other than this. It is minus ten degrees where the native New Yorker lived for years and where he returns to fishing every season: Alaska.

The water there is cloudy, it has so many nutrients. One of the most fish-rich regions in the world. Clarke's father was already a fisherman, and he's been doing it himself all his life. He said he spent a good 40 years on the boat. It is a life that is based on the life cycle of the fish: the salmon spawn in the fresh water of the many thousands of rivers and lakes in Alaska and the juvenile fish migrate into the open sea. They travel thousands of miles through the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, feeding on plankton, fish and shrimp. And with them the small fishing boats like David Clarke's "Suki" pull.

Salmon fishing in Alaska is very environmentally friendly

Overfishing? That's not an issue in Alaska. Fish farms are banned and the state grants a certain number of licenses to limit the number of catchers. If you want to get into the business, you have to buy the license from another fisherman. Like the Clarkes, almost all fishermen are self-employed, independent and have their own boats. During the fishing season, biologists monitor the number of salmon that travel up the rivers to spawn. Only when it is certain that there are enough can be started with the catch. Three men then go to Clarke's "Suki" - and wait for the bell to ring. Then Clarke pulls the line up to the boat, each salmon is taken out of the water individually. There are between 120 and 400 per day, up to 10,000 a year, depending on the season. Clarke takes it out by hand, immediately fills it with ice and stores it under deck, refrigerated. His working day starts at four in the morning. Because the "morning bite" in the first hour, says Clarke in English, accounts for around 40 percent of his daily income. "Work isn't stressful, but it is all day long, until about half past twelve. You get less sleep than usual. It's a lifestyle," says Clarke.

"I was also a little homesick for Germany"

A lifestyle that also fascinated Julia Schlutius. First she came to Alaska during the vacation, stayed longer and longer and finally got hired on the boat of her current husband. Like many other fishing families, the Clarkes lived in Bellingham north of Seattle and went to the salmon-rich area of ​​Southeast Alaska for several weeks during the season. "It was very exciting, yes," says Julia Schlutius. "But also exhausting. Today I couldn't do that anymore." They caught fish together in Alaska for 20 years. "There were times when the price of our salmon was so bad that we could hardly make a living from it," remembers Julia Schlutius. The two decided to only supply one bulk buyer in Bremen and otherwise be independent of the fish factories and cooperatives close.

And when the children came they decided to move from Bellingham to Radolfzell. "I was also a little homesick for Germany," says Julia Schlutius. But they have remained a fishing family: every year between June and September David Clarke flies back to Alaska, spends the summer season on the boat and brings the wild salmon with him to Germany. Claudia, the 19-year-old daughter of the two, has also been there before. Next year, when the youngest son is 13 years old, he too can come along.

Wild salmon

Five species of wild salmon live in the waters in and around Alaska. They are born in fresh waters and later migrate into the sea. They return to their place of birth in fresh water to spawn. Since wild salmon contains a lot of healthy omega 3, it is a popular delicacy and ranks third among the most popular fish species in Germany. The environmental organization WWF recommends buying wild salmon only if it bears the seal of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which guarantees sustainable fishing from wild stocks - this is the case with the wild salmon fishery in Alaska. (sap)


.... and this is how the wild salmon can be prepared, for example, according to Julia Schlutius' favorite recipe:





Fish stock

White wine


Preparation: Thaw the fish fillet slowly in the refrigerator. Take out of the fridge half an hour before cooking. Rub the fish with lemon and salt. Spread the liquid butter and grated ginger on aluminum foil. Place the fish skin side on the aluminum foil and then spread the melted butter with ginger on top. Wrap the fish in aluminum foil in a package and bake for about 20 minutes at 160 degrees. In no case longer, otherwise it will be too dry. Since the wild salmon from David Clarke and Julia Schlutius was already frozen over -20 degrees, it could theoretically also be eaten raw, so it is sushi quality.

For the sauce: Reduce two parts of fish stock with one part of white wine by half. Then season the sauce with cream, salt, pepper and saffron. Serve with small potatoes or salad. Good Appetite!

Published in the Konstanz department