Fishermen for the most part were all smiles fin the aftermath of the May 16 opener of the Copper River salmon fishery and processors reported a harvest of 112,979 fish.
The catch included 1,677 kings, for a total of 32,913 pounds, with the average Chinook weighing in at 19.6 pounds, according to the Cordova office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The sockeye harvest of 105,259 sockeye salmon weighed in at 615,158 pounds, with the average red at 5.8 pounds, and the chum harvest of 6,043 fish tipped the scales at 41,647 pounds, or an average of 6.89 pounds per fish.
The weather forecast had been for winds blowing southeast at 30 knots, but weather conditions were much calmer and it turned out to be a relatively nice day, fish and game officials said.
Processors were busy getting fish ready for transport to fresh markets far from Alaska., and at 6 a.m. the next morning, a planeload of 24,000 pounds fresh Copper River salmon arrived with ceremony at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle , as an Alaska Airlines pilot carried a 45-pound king off the plane, into the arms of a seafood processor who proceeded to kiss the fish.
The cargo load of salmon was from Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods.
A 45-pound fresh king salmon carried off of the plane with ceremony by Alaska Airlines Captain Bob Porter was divided up between executive chefs from three Seattle restaurants competing in a Copper Chef Cook-off. Pat Donahue of Anthony’s Restaurants, challenged by executive chefs Robert Spaulding of Elliott’s Oyster House and Jeff Maxfield of SkyCity at the Space Needle, won top honors for the second year in a row.
Last year Alaska Airlines few more than 25 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond.