Copper River Opener Sends Prices Soaring

Gillnetters out in drizzly rain for the celebrated start of the Copper River salmon fishery May 17 came home with a catch of some 2,800 kings and 1,900 reds, sending prices at the dock soaring.

Harvesters making 384 deliveries netted $15.50 and $10.50 a pound respectively, with processors offering an additional 50 cents for dock delivery.

“It was a good start for Chinooks, and exceptionally low for sockeyes,” said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologists in Cordova for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Preliminary data for the second 12-hour opener on May 21 showed a catch of 1,436 kings and 3,868 sockeyes, averaging at 16.6 pounds and 5.1 pounds respectively. Harvesters made 289 deliveries, as weather conditions declined, said ADF&G officials in Cordova, Alaska.

Pike Place Fish Market’s online prices for fresh Copper River salmon as of May 22 were $54.99 a pound for whole kings, $74.99 a pound for king fillets, $159.96 a pound for whole sockeyes and $49.99 a pound for sockeye fillets.

Online marketer FishEx in Anchorage was offering Copper River king fillet portions for $79.95 a pound and Copper River sockeye portions for $46.95 a pound, which 10th and M Seafoods, also in Anchorage, posted $65.95 a pound for Copper River king fillets.

The arrival of the first Copper River fish meanwhile was heralded with the red carpet treatment and gourmet chefs cook-off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and with a salmon season kick-off party in Anchorage hosted by Copper River Seafoods.

Some 300 tickets at $15 apiece for the family friendly Anchorage event sold out quickly, and guests indulged in gourmet salmon offerings prepared by chefs from several upscale restaurants, while listening to live music and waiting to see if they won door prizes, which included fillets from a chilled 30-plus pound whole king salmon on display in a bed of chilled ice.