PWS wild salmon harvest tops 1.5M fish

Sunrise on the morning of the May 16, 2019 Copper River opener. Harvesters are optimistic in the wake of the shortened 2018 season. Photo by Sherman Powell/for The Cordova Times

As more areas of Prince William Sound opened for commercial fishing, preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the catch at 1.5 million salmon through June 18, including some 813,942 fish caught in the Copper River.

The area wide harvest included some 846,705 sockeyes, 16,775 kings, 482,819 chum, 1,056 humpies and 63 coho salmon.

For the Copper River alone the preliminary numbers showed a cumulative drift gillnet catch of 769,048 sockeyes, 18,091 chum, 16,598 kings and 51 silvers.

Average weights on Copper River kings for the first 10 openers was 18.3 pounds, and 5.5 pounds for sockeyes.  A very preliminary report a week earlier indicated the sockeyes for that period were an average of 3.5 pounds, but ADF&G later updated that data to show reds caught in that opener were averaging 5.6 pounds.

Other deliveries to processors to date include 15,345 reds, 104 chum and 82 kings from Bering River drift gillnetters; 3,139 reds, 19 kings and 76,561 chum from Coghill drift netters; 45,871 sockeyes, 35 kings, 19,479 chum and 127 humpies from Eshamy May Bay drift gillnetters, and 1,349 sockeyes and 71 chum from Eshamy May Bay drift/set harvesters.

Another 1,681 reds, 17 kings, 142,751 chum, 208 pink and 8 silver salmon were delivered by PWS Southwestern purse seiners and 272 sockeyes, 24 kings, 225,762 chum, 567 pink and 4 silvers came in from drift gillnetters I Montague.

Pike Place Fish Market this past week had whole Copper River kings for $29.99 a pound, Copper River king fillets for $41.99 a pound, whole Copper River sockeyes for $47.96 per fish, Copper River sockeye fillets for $21.99 a pound and quarter pound Copper River salmon burgers at $4.99 per burger.

The online Anchorage seafood retailer FishEx was still advertising fresh Copper River king portions for $86.95 a pound and Copper River sockeye portions for $46.95 a pound.

10th and M Seafoods had fresh Copper River kings for $59.95 a pound and fresh Copper River sockeyes for $21.95 a pound.

Costco was offering fresh fillets of Copper River sockeyes at $12.99 a pound and fresh whole Copper River sockeyes for $7.99 a pound.