Copper River Salmon Fishery Opens on May 16

Seafood aficionados in Seattle and Anchorage are getting ready to roll out the red carpet May 17 to welcome the arrival of first of the season Copper River salmon.

The celebrated fishery opens at 7 a.m. on May 16 and plans are to fly the first harvest of kings and sockeyes out to Seattle and Anchorage the next day.

While most retailers have not announced prices yet, one online Anchorage seafood retailer is advertising fresh Copper River king salmon center cut fillets at $51.96 a pound and fresh Copper River sockeye salmon center cut fillets for $37.56 a pound.

When the Alaska Airlines flight with the first of the season catch arrives in Seattle on the morning of May 17, greeters will include several of Seattle’s top executive chefs, who will compete in the annual Copper Chef Cook-off to determine who has the best salmon recipe.

This year’s competing chefs include 2015 champion Ethan Stowell, executive chef and owner of Tavolata, Anchovies & Olive, John Howie of Seastar Restaurant & Bar and the John Howie SteakHouse, and Sam Burkhart of Etta’s and Seatown Seabar Restaurant.

In Anchorage a few hours later, Copper River Seafoods will host its annual First Fish event at the Alaska Air Cargo Center, welcoming the arrival of king and sockeye salmon headed for retail shops and restaurants, and hosting a cookout featuring fishes from two Anchorage restaurants known for their seafood entrees.

The first Copper River opener in May 2015 produced far fewer reds and a few more Chinooks than anticipated, and first run Chinooks and sockeyes were commanding prices of up to $31.95 a pound and $24.99 a pound respectively.