The commercial winter Turbot/Char fishery began about 30 years ago in Pangnirtung a few years after the seal and fur trade collapsed and since then every day and night in Pangnirtung from January to April, there's a steady parade of snow machines leaving and arriving at the small craft harbour. Fishers are hauling sleds with large plastic tubs, past the spectacular Pangnirtung Fjord enroute to Cumberland Sound.
After about an hour-and a-half's ride by snow machine onto the sea ice they get to their line. It's time to haul in the catch. The line was set the day before with roughly 100+ hooks baited by hand with Arctic char, and lowered steadily to the sea floor, a kilometre or so below the surface.
Once the fish is caught the fisher(wo)men then gut and load the fish into a large plastic tub. They pour seawater over the catch to keep it fresh.
When their work is done, they clear off the ice, straighten the line and pack the sled. Then, they make their way back to the Pangnirtung fish plant to see what their catch is worth.
A tradition that has been going on for the past 30 years, all by hand with only very little help from machines, making our fish some of the best in the world
The turbot have white flesh, similar to halibut. They live and eat close to the sea bed, which has evolved their features. They have flat bodies, with one eye on the top of their heads and one on the side. Their large mouths have sharp teeth to eat anything they see.
Arctic Char have a rich taste with a flavor profile somewhere between trout and salmon with a fat content close to that of sockeye salmon. The flesh ranges in colour from light pink to deep red with moderately firm but fine flakes. The skin is is thin and delicate, is easy to crisp-up and is edible.