Fishermen of Bristol Bay: Wil Claussen

Fishermen of Bristol Bay: Wil Claussen

Growing up landlocked in Colorado, I never spent much time near the ocean, let alone imagined I would end up as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay. I recently returned from my second season, and I can’t think of many things in my life I feel this connected to. Hard work and long days, beautiful scenery, catching people’s dinner, and being a part of a unique and competitive community, there are so many layers to being a fisherman and these are only a few. 

I got into this industry after moving to Washington on a whim and becoming fascinated with the boats while visiting Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle. The rigging, shiny hulls and intricate nets were captivating, I needed to find a way onto a boat and eventually I did. A close friend mentioned to her dad that I was interested in working in Bristol Bay which ultimately led to my start as a deckhand on the F/V Anny Joy.  Cold-water surfing, heli-boarding, commercial fishing, they all require one thing in common – an ability to hone your focus under pressure, and perform. That fleeting moment is something that has become a slight addiction for me and I knew I could find it on a fishing boat. 

I’ll never forget my first season in Bristol Bay. Our captain decided that we would be fishing the Nushagak river, and another seasoned crewmember turned to me and said “The Nush will turn you from a boy into a man, I hope you’re ready.” Really helping my already rattled and overwhelmed confidence, right? It was brutal to say the least. The rain never seemed to stop and I nearly lost it trying to hold on to the few hours of sleep I could get during peak season, while bouncing so hard in rough seas, I thought I was going to hit the bunk above me. This was the moment where I drew the internal question of, “what am I doing here?” A moment that, looking back now, was a turning point for me, but not in the way you would think. 

It took a return trip to Seattle to realize why I was REALLY in Bristol Bay, one that I could have never known until now. Despite the intense working conditions and lack of sleep that pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, it was the bigger picture that I immediately missed within a week of being home. The hard work is just part of it, and is something each Bristol Bay fisherman must embrace, but there are so many other things that bring so many people together for the same reason. Comparing your catch over the radio with other boats, sharing meals and getting through hard times with your crew bring you close enough to feel like brothers. We take a stand against Pebble Mine and sustainably harvest this incredible resource that has nourished communities for many years. Becoming an Alaskan Fisherman quickly went from a paycheck to a form of merit. I couldn’t be more proud of what I do and that is why I continue to return each summer. 

Throughout my time in Bristol Bay I have fished alongside Steve Kurian, Captain of the F/V Ava Jane and owner of Pride of Bristol Bay. At the conclusion of the season, we were on our way to the Naknek airport in an old Ford truck, sharing our passion for fishing and talking about our plans after we get home. He mentioned to me that he was seeking someone to fill a position at POBB, and after hearing what he had to say, I quickly jumped on the opportunity. Fast forward a few months, here I am sharing with you my journey of becoming a fisherman and business developer for Pride of Bristol Bay. 

Commercial fishing has now come full circle, not only am I catching the fish, but helping to build a sustainable, community-driven operation that ships the highest quality sockeye directly to your door. It is an incredibly rewarding experience for me and I am thrilled to be able to share my story here as well as my passion and love of salmon and Bristol Bay. 


Cooked fillet of bristol bay sockeye salmon

Direct to Door opens Monday 9/23

A reminder for you! 

Our Direct to Door program will be open for orders of 2019 Bristol Bay sockeye portions and fillets Monday, September 23rd. After another successful fishing season, we are ready to offer the high quality sockeye you have been waiting for. Stock your freezer with our 20 lb. case (or save a little room for ice cream,) with our NEW 10lb. case. Whichever option you choose, both are shipped directly to your door for FREE!

We have also been working closely this year with our processor, Leader Creek Fisheries, to make significant improvements on the durability of the packaging of our products by increasing the thickness of vacuum packs and reinforcing the seals (more on this coming soon).  We remain dedicated to providing the freshest, highest quality salmon delivered from our nets to your door!   

Be on the lookout for our newsletter announcing the launch on Monday. If you don’t already subscribe, you can sign up at the bottom of our homepage to begin receiving our most up to date information, recipes and news from Bristol Bay! 


The Folks at Pride of Bristol Bay

Wild Sockeye

Wild Sockeye Salmon Coming Direct to Your Door

Dear loyal customers and wild salmon lovers,

We are thrilled to announce that — in just a few short weeks — we will begin shipping our wild-caught, Bristol Bay Sockeye fillets and portions directly to your door. We had another fantastic summer harvesting Sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay and the resource is as strong as ever. In Alaska, the overall statewide harvest of Sockeye salmon produced as expected and we continue to be confident in the sustainability efforts supported by the fishermen.

As many of you know, we source our Sockeye salmon exclusively from Leader Creek Fisheries, the company to whom our team of fishermen delivers their product. Every Leader Creek fisherman is fiercely dedicated to producing the very highest quality product at the point of harvest.

 We are your fishermen, and we take enormous pride in our work. Through ongoing effort and devotion to our chosen work, we have been able to increase the amount of salmon we can secure and pass along to our customers through our Direct to Door program.

On another note, there are new things coming this year, and we’re thrilled to tell you about them! First, we are introducing 10-pound cases into our Direct to Door program. So beginning this fall you’ll now have the opportunity to order either 10 or 20-pound cases of fillets or portions, to be delivered directly to your door. Second, we heard you! This season we have improved our packaging. This is an exciting point for us, not only because this new packaging is going to preserve the flavors of Bristol Bay even more, but also because you’ll get to experience the highest quality quality fish at your door step.

. . .and now. . .

We will begin accepting orders for our fresh frozen, wild-caught, Bristol Bay Sockeye fillets and portions on Monday, September 23rd. We will begin shipping on Monday, September 30th.

Keep an eye out for an email about the opening of the Direct to Door program! In the meantime, happy beginning of fall and we’ll be back in touch soon.
The Folk at Pride of Bristol Bay

Why Our Salmon: Traceability

We take pride in following our wild salmon from the point of harvest to your door. To do so, we collaborate with Leader Creek Fisheries, utilizing their coding, sorting, and inventory technology. Each 10lb or 20lb-case of wild, Bristol Bay Sockeye fillets/portions are marked with the name of the Bristol Bay fishing district in which they were harvested. This ensures a level of traceability that is absolutely unprecedented.

You can learn about the various fishing districts of Bristol Bay by clicking here.


Pride of Bristol Bay planked salmon

Cedar Plank Grilled Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon with Sweet Potatoes

PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 15 minutes

Cedar planks (available in seafood section of supermarket) with enough surface area for salmon
4 Alaska Salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz. each), fresh, thawed or frozen
Olive oil spray
1 Tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) favorite herb for salmon (dill, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
4 large sweet potatoes, sliced lengthwise into wedges
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin


Soak cedar planks for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight) submerged in water.  Remove and pat dry.

Heat grill to medium heat (400°F).  Rinse any ice glaze from frozen Alaska Salmon under cold running water; pat dry with a paper towel.  Spray cedar planks and salmon with olive oil spray.  Place salmon on planks; sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.  Place sweet potatoes in a bowl; spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper, to taste.  Toss to coat.

Place cedar planks and potato wedges onto grill.  Cover and cook about 3 to 4 minutes; turn wedges over and continue cooking until potatoes are soft and cooked. Keep warm.  Cook salmon 12 to 15 minutes, just until fish is opaque throughout.


350 calories, 10.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 27% calories from fat, 91mg cholesterol, 33g protein, 33g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 277mg sodium, 36mg calcium and 1700mg omega-3 fatty acids.

Recipe via Alaska Seafood
Recipe by Ryan and Sara Hall.  
Recommended side dish: Massaged Kale Salad with Goat Cheese

Sara’s Tip: We found slicing the sweet potatoes vertically (into coins) helps keep them from falling through the grill grate.  For larger “coins,”  microwave them briefly before grilling so they cook through without burning on the outside.  Of course, sweet potato fries can also be roasted in an oven preheated to 400°F.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Why Our Salmon: Sustainability

Pride of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is sustainably harvested in one of the purest ecosystems left on earth — Bristol Bay, Alaska. In fact, the Bristol Bay Salmon Management Plan, overseen by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is recognized as one of the most effective and comprehensive management regimes in the world. In Bristol Bay, it is known as the cornerstone of resource stewardship. Not only does it cultivate and protect the region’s salmon, but it includes the support of all species in the ecosystem, forever.
For more information on the Bristol Bay Salmon Management Plan, click here.
While fishing season is only a few short months, our crew ensures the highest quality salmon will be delivered to your door. Otherwise, we offer a handful of buying clubs around the U.S. The entire process — from catching the fish to shipping it nationwide, Pride of Bristol Bay is proud of the salmon you receive. If you’re interested, you can read posts about Bristol Bay, our fishing season, and what is going on with pebble mine by visiting
In the meantime, we’d like to announce our two brand new buying clubs! This September, you will find us in the Midwest. On September 18th, we’ll be in Rochester, MN, and on September 21st, we’ll be in Cedar Rapids, IA.
Here’s to sustainably harvested, wild caught sockeye salmon! Reserve your share today.