My Alaska Story

Nick Lee

My history in the fishing and seafood industry began within days of graduating from high school.  I was 18, and my first flight was to take me to Sitka, Alaska. I trolled for salmon on my older brother’s boat in the Gulf for the summer--for free.  My compensation was life experience, great adventure, and the endless opportunities that would follow.

At the end of my first season I took a job in a seafood processing plant where I ended up working for the next two years. I worked my way up from the “slime line” to the first line of Quality Control and began grading fish as they came off the boats.  I graded all five species of Pacific salmon, halibut, and black cod.

A couple years later, when my brother could finally afford to pay me, I went back to work with him fishing for salmon, black cod and halibut, and paid my way through college. Half way through, I took a summer job as a crewman fishing in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  The captain of the boat was the president and CEO of Bering Select Seafoods, a seafood trading company out of Seattle (that would eventually hire me to buy fish out of Alaska and market it in Asia and Europe). For the next few summers, I crewed for the same captain and eventually started running the boat on the season’s shoulders.

In 1995, with accumulated knowledge and experience, I partnered with my brother and bought a fishing boat for the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, which we called the Elusive. I bought my brother out in 2006 and upgraded to my newest boat, the Anasaziin 2015.

I began fishing for Leader Creek Fisheries in 2002, and was able to bring my experience working for a quality conscious processor to the table as a founding board member for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

Leader Creek is a cooperative between fishermen who are implementing the highest quality standards in Bristol Bay and a processor that is using cutting edge, state of the art filleting, freezing, and packaging technology. Together, our goal is to maintain the highest quality in wild sockeye fillets and portions so they may ultimately be experienced as though they just came out of the water.

Leader Creek has led the way in the past and remains progressive with its processing. Despite the fact that chilling is the most basic need for quality production, many competing processors have not required their fleet to chill their fish at the point of harvest.  Leader Creek requires our fleet to use temperature probes in our fish holds. It also enforces the top quality handling practices of floating and bleeding our fish onboard. We are required to use mats and salmon slides to achieve quality incentives.

These standards produce a product that I am proud to present to friends, family, and seafood snobs! I source all of my sockeye fillets and portions from Leader Creek.

Though I no longer fish halibut or black cod, I’m familiar with the sources that produce the highest quality and am proud to work with them.


My personal Testimony:

As an Alaskan Fisherman, it has been a lifelong dream to share the experience I have when I barbecue wild salmon on the back deck of the Elusive during the fishing season.  Part of my dream has been realized each year when I have brought back fish and barbecued them up for friends in Seattle. I always had a few people in the crowd comment that they have never tasted salmon like this. I realized that they have not been able to get the quality of salmon that I have access to... until now. With the quality-conscious fleet and the state of the art processing and freezing technology that is being utilized by Leader Creek, this dream has become a reality”.

Nick Lee

Alaska Fisherman