The salt water fishing areas near Doc Warner’s lodge have always been very productive. At the end of the fishing week, our guests are often surprised at the amount of fish they have caught. As a policy, we provide two fish boxes – free of charge- to each guest to take their frozen fish home as checked baggage. On occasion, the changing airline rules have complicated this for the travelers, but nonetheless, we have maintained our free two boxes per guest for many years without any significant disturbance (much to the liking of our guests!)
We carefully weigh each box loaded with filleted fish before it is sealed to ensure that the box does not exceed the 50lb baggage limit. Quite often our guests will have a few vacuum sealed bags of fish left over after their boxes are full. Rather than buying an extra box (which is always an option), they would just give the fish to us to keep at the lodge.
The law in Alaska states that we cannot feed fish to our guests as part of our regular menu unless we have purchased the fish from someone who has a commercial fishing permit. We believed that we could legally feed our guests the fish they left behind because we had not caught the fish ourselves. For a few years, we served some of our past guest’s left-over fish as part of an evening meal. Federal and State enforcement agents did a variety of ‘sting’ operations in our area and we were found in violation of the law. We paid our fine and removed all fish from our menu. Upon request from a guest, we still help prepare and cook our guest’s fish specifically for the people who caught them, but not as a part of our menu. We paid an expensive price for not knowing the law. We now obey the law.