Frisky Fresh Fish reels in customers

To the uninitiated, it might seem kind of fishy to buy seafood out of a trailer in the parking lot of an abandoned building.

To the uninitiated, it might seem kind of fishy to buy seafood out of a trailer in the parking lot of an abandoned building. But the unconventional location hasn’t seemed to hurt the popularity of the fishmongers who have set up shop at the old Canadian Tire building.

“It’s been crazy,” said Rhianna Rasmussen, who along with her fiance Sean Brownell own Frisky Fresh Fish.

The couple opened up shop last July.

The business was basically just a way for the couple to spend time together without breaking the bank.

Rasmussen is a helicopter pilot based in Carcross while Brownell is a commercial fisherman who operates a heli-skiing business in the off-season in Haines, Alaska.

Selling fish was a way to subsidize Brownell’s pricey trip in from fish camp.

“Sean would fly up and I would drive up from Atlin, where I was working, and we’d all meet at the market and sell fish together for a couple days,” said Rasmussen.

That first summer they just broke even, but now they had also earned a loyal customer base.

“I don’t think we’ll get left off the hook,” said Rasmussen. “We tried taking one or two weeks off and people are calling us and sending us emails like, ‘Where did you go? I hope you didn’t leave.’”

At the end of September they moved from the Fireweed Market to their current location where they struck a deal with the new owners of the property, Northern Vision Development, to pay their rent in fish.

Northern Vision, which also owns the Coast High Country Inn, uses the fish in its restaurant.

Frisky Fresh Fish also sells to a few other restaurants around town, including Sakura Sushi, Antoinette’s and Giorgio’s Cuccina, which is by far their best customer, said Rasmussen.

Restaurants have told her that a lot of their customers are starting to request wild fish, said Rasmussen.

Around Juneau she’s noticed posters warning fisherman about Atlantic salmon that have escaped from west coast fish farms and encouraging them to kill the invasive species and turn the carcass in to authorities.

“They’re making it all the way to Alaska, and there’s no fish farms anywhere in Alaska, so that’s kind of crazy,” she said.

A sign hanging from the trailer proclaims “No Farmed Fish” in bold black letters.

All of the salmon they sell is caught by Brownell, who has fish camps on the Alsek River, the Tsiu River and a ramshackle one near Yakutat, Alaska.

Other fish, like halibut and rockfish, they source from local Alaskan fisherman that they know personally.

“When our friends are fishing they’ll call us up and let us know and then we’ll usually co-ordinate and try to buy their fish,” said Rasmussen.

They also buy from a couple of the fish plants in Juneau.

“A really awesome one is Alaska Glacier Sea Foods,” she said. “They started in a trailer in a parking lot in Juneau.

“They’re family run and really easy to deal with and are really sympathetic to us because they’ve been there, done that.”

While halibut and Alaskan spot prawns are the biggest sellers, exotic delicacies like sea cucumber have proved to be hugely popular with Whitehorse’s growing Asian community.

“We went into the sushi restaurant and told a couple of the people that we had it and we just got swarmed,” said Rasmussen. “They were like fighting over it.”

The winter isn’t as busy as the summer, but Rasmussen said she much prefers selling fish to flying a helicopter this time of year. “I don’t really love flying in the Yukon in the winter,” she said. “It’s usually freezing cold, the days are short and the weather’s horrendous.”

There are times when it’s been too cold for them to sell fish but they did brave some frigid temperatures over Christmas.

“I was more impressed with the customers than us,” said Rasmussen. “I was like, ‘People are really buying fish from us at minus 34? This is amazing.’”

They plan on staying at their current location until the end of August, by which time they hope to have a permanent storefront lined up.

Once they get a brick-and-mortar location, the plan is to turn the trailer they’re in now into a fish-and-chip truck.

They’re also looking at the possibility of opening up a small fish processing plant in the retail village being built in Carcross.

The two “longtime ski bums” never really planned on becoming fishmongers but, “it’s been super fun,” said Rasmussen.

“I think we both have adventurous spirits, so for us it works perfect, but it’s definitely a challenge at times,” she said.

Rasmussen can be found selling fish at the corner of 4th Ave. and Ogilvie St. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

They also have a website, friskyfreshfish.com, where they post their hours, take special requests and bulk orders and hype up their latest catch.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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