Copper River catch tops 790,000 salmon

Fresh Chinooks weighing in at 19.9 pounds, sockeye weight at 5.6 pounds

Chinook salmon harvested in the eighth Copper River opener of the season weighed in at 19.9 pounds on average, while sockeyes netted were a slim 5.6 pounds, in an overall catch that boosted the river’s harvest through June 12 to 790,219 fish.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists in Cordova said preliminary data showed for the 36-hour opener June 10-11 included 473 deliveries that brought in 2,309 kings, 20,534 sockeyes and 122 chums, at average weights of 19.4 pounds, 3.5 pounds and 6.1 pounds respectively.

Average weights overall for the combined eight openers has been 18.2 pounds for kings, 5.1 pounds for sockeyes and 6.5 pounds for chums.

In all, through June 10, ADF&G calculated there had been 5,285 deliveries to processors, of 15,726 kings weighting 285,473 pounds and 758,579 sockeyes weighting 3,85,704 pounds, plus 15,791 chums weighing 101,935 pounds.

The fishery began on May 16 with a 12-hour period that brought in 473 deliveries, including 2,309 kings and 20,534 sockeyes, averaging 18.7 pounds and 5.5 pounds respectively.

The 36-hour opener ended June 4 was the largest harvest period to date in 2019, with 920 deliveries and a catch of 139,336 salmon, including 2,327 Chinooks and 135,313 red salmon.

As more fish flow into the marketplace, on the eve of other wild Alaska commercial salmon fisheries opening for the season prices for fresh caught fish are dropping and retail shoppers are buying as prices slowly drop.

Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle this week was offering whole Copper River king salmon for $29.99 a pound whole and $41.99 a pound filleted, plus whole Copper River sockeyes for $55.96 per fish and $23.99 a pound filleted.

10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage offered Copper River king fillets online for $59.95 a pound and Copper River sockeyes at $21.95 a pound.

Prices at online retailer FishEx in Anchorage were holding steady at $86.95 a pound for Copper River king fillets and $46.95 a pound for red fillets.

While down considerably from fresh fish caught in the first opener, menu prices were also holding steady for those limited season Copper River fish.

The tab was still $38.95 at Orso in Anchorage for fillets of fresh Copper River sockeye and $48.95 for fillets of Copper River kings. Several other restaurants have Alaska salmon entrees on their menu, but are not specifically stating whether or not it’s from the Copper River.

For do-it-yourself chefs, the best deals in Anchorage were $12.99 a pound for Copper River sockeye fillets at Costco stores, Fred Meyer and Carrs-Safeway supermarkets.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the average weights of salmon in the 8th opener.