PWS wild salmon harvests reach 3.5 M fish

Strong harvests of wild salmon in Prince William Sound have reached some 3.5 million fish, including some 2.9 million chum and 1.1 million sockeyes.

Overall for Prince William Sound, the chums are coming back stronger than anticipated, said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Cordova. In the Montague drift gillnet fishery, the chum catch alone totaled some 737,000 fish, compared to a forecast of 250,000, he said.

Prices to fishermen were about $2.70 a pound for Copper River sockeyes and 50 cents a pound for chums, he said.

While the Chinook salmon harvest to date has been less than anticipated, all in-river needs will still be met, Botz said.

A few rough periods on the Copper River aside, the weather has also been really good, he said.

Preliminary data for the June 24 opener was still being compiled, but those for Copper River deliveries through June 20 added up to 6,522 deliveries of some 890,327 fish, including 854,590 sockeyes, 18,073 chum, 17,273 kings, 334 humpies and 57 silver salmon.

Sockeyes caught in the Copper River were weighing in on average at 5.6 pounds, while the kings were averaging 18.5 pounds, and chums 6.5 pounds. That’s about half a pound heavier than last year on average for the sockeyes and a pound heavier for kings, Botz said.

The Eshamy Main Bay drift gillnet fishery has harvested an estimated 202,480 sockeyes and 84,341 chums, while the Coghill drift gillnet fleet has delivered 36,882 reds and 224,167 chums.

The Bering River has produced an estimated 18,564 sockeyes and 215 chums, and the Prince William Sound Southwestern purse seine fishery has brought in some 12,231 sockeyes, 321,555 chums and 5,400 humpies.

Retail prices overall were holding well, although Costco stores in Anchorage have dropped their prices for Copper River sockeye fillets to $11.99 a pound.

At the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle prices were $29.99 a pound for whole wild Copper River kings; $55.96 apiece for whole Copper River sockeyes; $41.99 a pound for Copper River king fillets, and $23.99 a pound for Copper River sockeye fillets.

10th & M Seafoods had fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for $21.95 a pound and fresh Copper River king fillets for $59.95 a pound.

Prices at FishEx, the online seafood retailer in Anchorage, stood at $86.95 a pound for Copper River king fillets and $46.95 a pound for the Copper River sockeye fillets.

For those dining out, an entrée of Copper River sockeye salmon pan seared, with vegetables at Orso, a fine dining restaurant in downtown Anchorage, was also holding steady at $38.95, and fresh Copper River king salmon grilled with vegetables, was $48.95.