INTRODUCING OUR GUESTS
We are thrilled to have two of the amazing crab boat captains who work with our partner Keyport tell us what it’s like to fish in the deepest, harshest waters of Alaska, how they protect and sustain the Golden Crab population and of course, the best way to enjoy their haul.
Captain Rip Carlton, of the F/V Patricia Lee, has worked in the crab industry for over 4 decades, working his way up from deck hand to captain/owner. You've seen him featured on season 18 of TV's Deadliest Catch. When he's not in the Bering Sea fishing for crab, he lives with his wife in Bend, OR and pursues his other passion of race car driving.
Captain Anna Capri was raised in the Newport fishing community, started fishing at age 11, ran her first boat at age 20, in and is now co-captain of the F/V Eria-N along with her husband Captain Chad. Captain Anna lives in Portland, OR and loves to have her daughter London join them on the Eria-N during the early season, before school starts.
We thank both Captain Rip and Captain Anna for their time in answering our questions --- and of course also for catching all that fabulous Alaskan crab we get to feature on SeaBear.com!
QUESTION #1- We know fishing for King crab in Alaska is a tough, dangerous job. But what part of the work do you love most, the thing that keeps you going back?
CAPTAIN RIP: What keeps me coming back after 40 years? The challenge!! Golden King crab is the deepest and most difficult fishery in Alaska. The Goldens are always on the move so just finding those elusive buggers is a challenge every year!! Because of the depth, we harvest using a long line which adds a whole layer of complexity and risk.
And, to make it really fun, Goldens are usually found in areas with the roughest currents – so hauling the gear up from 2,000 feet can get wild at times. But the guys on the Patricia Lee are all in and they also love the challenge. We have the type of crew that comes out on deck, takes in the huge waves and crappy weather, and goes “Alright! Let’s do this!”. That keeps me coming back - it’s great to be a part of that!!
CAPTAIN ANNA: I come from a fishing family so being out at sea and working in commercial fishing is in my blood. I am married to a Bering Sea captain, and I have a young daughter who comes out to the Aleutian Islands with us to harvest Golden King crab during her school breaks. I love passing this legacy on to London.
Probably the best part of my job is the family that we have built on the Erla-N. We work together really well and I love being part of our team both on and off the boat. Our daughter has grown up with the crew and the “boys”, as she calls them, are like her uncles. We work really hard but we also like being together and looking out for each other.
QUESTION #2 - What are you most proud of in the way this important natural resource is fished, to ensure its sustainability for generations to come?
CAPTAIN ANNA: Everything we do is about protecting the Alaska Golden King fishery for our kids and future generations. Before fishing each year, the Erla-N participates in a Golden King crab survey. We make a trip out to the fishing grounds but instead of harvesting, we have a biologist on board who is studying the number of juveniles and females. These studies provide the data that is used to set the quotas for the season. The surveys add time and expense for the fleet but that commitment to science is what sets the Golden King crab fleet apart. There are only five boats that are equipped with the necessary hydraulic systems to harvest from such a deep habitat, and we work together in an unprecedented way, always looking for ways to protect the Goldens and their habitat. We take a lot of pride in our vessel but also in the cooperation between the fleet, the biologists, the state, and everyone involved in this fishery.
CAPTAIN RIP: I have harvested crab all over the world and I am proud to say that the Alaska Golden King crab fishery is the most sustainable and best managed fishery that I have ever seen. The fleet works very closely with the state, coastal community groups, and scientists to ensure the population of Golden King crab stays at a healthy and thriving level. In 30 years, we have never had a closure due to falling populations. Protecting the future of the fishery informs everything that we do and keeps us aligned with a level of cooperation you won’t find anywhere else. It also helps that Golden King crab are so darn hard to catch!!
QUESTION #3 - When you serve Alaska King Crab to family and friends, how do you do like to do it?
CAPTAIN RIP: There is no better tasting crab than Alaska Golden King crab!! It is so good, that my favorite way to eat it is cold, dipped in melted butter. So good!! It is also the perfect thing to serve with a steak. I usually grill my steak and then add a couple of Golden King crab legs on the grill for a quick minute or two and then serve that right on top of the steak. Golden King is sweeter and lighter in texture than Red King crab, which makes it the perfect crab to add to pasta or salads. It is the filet mignon of the crab world!
CAPTAIN ANNA: Golden King crab is very easy to prepare - anyone can do it! The crab is pre-cooked so all you need to do is thaw the crab overnight on a rimmed tray in the refrigerator and then rinse it before serving. To open the shells, I use a kitchen scissor to cut the softer white part of the shell to get to the meat. When I serve the Golden King at a dinner party, I usually give all the guests a thick napkin or kitchen towel which makes it easier to handle the shells. If you decide to warm the Golden King crab, be sure to be very gentle in heating it so that you don’t overcook the delicate meat. It is already pre-cooked, so it just needs a little bit of heat. Many people steam their Golden King crab legs over boiling water or heat them in the oven for a few minutes. Sometimes we brush the thawed legs with garlic and olive oil and grill them for a few minutes. We usually cook all crab in their shells to keep the meat from getting overcooked but you can add cold shelled crab meat to soups or pastas and your entrée will heat the crab for you! SIDE NOTE: Here's a video of Anna explaining how to prepare and serve Golden King crab: https://vimeo.com/745587307
FINAL QUESTION: If you could share some King crab you’ve caught with anyone in history, who would it be?
If I could share Alaska King crab with anyone from history, I would sit down for a crab feast with Secretary of State William Seward. We would indulge ourselves with my favorite seafood-crab and celebrate his accomplishment of closing the deal on the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. We would laugh and talk about what this bountiful state has done for the United States, and how many families have benefitted from this milestone in history. I think he would be astonished by all the wonderful resources that have come from Alaska and have been made available to our nation. The rugged terrain of Alaska, the intense physical grind & rewarding accomplishments of the fishing industry, the raw beauty of Alaskan lifestyle, and the purest and most wholesome bounty. I can’t even begin to imagine my life outside the world of commercial fishing in Alaska. It is truly the most rewarding career. What a treat it would be to sit down and share King Crab with the man who made that possible! To that I would say cheers!
CAPTAIN RIP: I would have my Grandfather Pete for dinner. Grandfather Pete was a hardworking miner his whole life and just the greatest guy. As a kid, he showed me what it meant to be tough. He didn’t get to see my career in Golden King Crab fishing, so I would love to have him over for a big crab dinner and tell him all about that. I bet we would have a great conversation about being tough and determined!