Four weeks into Alaska’s famed Copper River salmon fishery just half of the potential 12-hour commercial openers have been fished and inseason harvest estimates compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stand at a grand total of some 78,177 fish.
Deliveries from the four commercial drift gillnet fisheries – the latest on June 1 – brought to processors some 5,751 Chinooks, 71,370 sockeye and 1,056 chum salmon.
The largest catch to date came on May 25, with 457 deliveries of a total of 1,451 king, 33,777 red and 611 chum salmon.
With other commercial fisheries in Prince William Sound starting to open up, hope lies in the pink and chum salmon returns, which are forecast to be 19 percent above the 10-year average.
Meanwhile drift gillnetters in the Eshamy Main Bay district have caught 2,811 sockeyes, 1,686 chum and 44 kings. In the Coghill district, the estimated chum salmon catch came to 16,918 and the king catch to 58 fish.
Purse seiners in the Prince William Sound Southwestern and Montague districts have also begun fishing, and while their catch of sockeyes and kings has been low, the Montague district has caught 31,712 chums and PWS Southwestern district fishermen another 13,000 chums.
Prices for the Copper River sockeye fillets have dropped by $10 a pound to $39.99 a pound at Pike Place Fish Market, but were still about $50 a pound in Austin, Texas, $44.95 a pound at online marketer FishEx in Anchorage and $22.95 a pound at 10th&M Seafoods in Anchorage. The best deal of the week was $16.99 a pound for Copper River red fillets at Costco stores in Anchorage.