Fourth opener yields robust sockeye harvest

June 6 deliveries bring in 84,555 reds, 1,016 kings

Seafood filleting professional Phonpasith Keoduuangdy of 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage shows off a couple fillets of fresh Copper River sockeye salmon from the 12-hour commercial fishing harvest of Thursday, June 2. More were on the way from the Monday, June 6 commercial opener. Now that the catch of this prized salmon is increasing, 10th & M is selling Copper River sockeye salmon fillets for $16.95 a pound. Photo by Margaret Bauman/for The Cordova Times

A robust fourth opener on the Copper River commercial salmon fishery, heralded in some retails shops as the Rolls Royce of the salmon world, brought in an estimated 85,579 salmon, mostly sockeyes, promptly a slight dip in prices as retail demand remained high.

The bright red fillets of fresh fish were a hot seller at 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage at $16.95 a pound. New Sagaya City Market offered its fresh Copper River red fillets for $56.99 for two pounds, down from $64.99, while at FishEx, the Anchorage online seafood market the asking price for “premium portions” of Copper River reds was $59.95 a pound.

Seattle’s famed Pike Place Fish Market also has dropped the price of Copper River sockeye fillets, to $29.99 a pound, down from $39.50 a pound just a week earlier.

The price notwithstanding, all those fillets will get sold because devoted customers know the season’s a short one and when they’re gone, they’ve gone.

After a slow season start on May 16, where fishermen made 401 deliveries of 15,609 fish, including 12,737 sockeyes and 2,830 Chinook, the fourth opener brought in an estimated 84,555 reds and 1,016 Kings, plus seven chum and a lone coho, for a total of 85,570 fish. The overall harvest to date as of Monday, June 6, was 188,622 fish, including 178,328 reds, 8,492 kings, 1,799 chum, two pink and that lone coho. Harvesters would learn on Wednesday, June 8, whether they would get a fifth 12-hour opener on Thursday, June 9.

Other areas of Prince William Sound are starting to open up, too. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in-season harvest report also included 292 deliveries in the Coghill drift gillnet fishery of 26,848 chum and 1,130 sockeye; 102 deliveries from Eshamy Main Bay drifters and setnetters of 3,519 sockeye, 1,997 chum, 46 Chinook and one humpy; and seven deliveries from Bering River drift gillnetters of 1,074 sockeyes, 19 chum and 19 Chinooks.

Purse seiners in the Montague District made 10 delivers with 1,268 chum and 11 Chinooks and purse seiners in the Prince William Sound Southwestern district had five deliveries of 506 chum salmon.

That brought the overall Prince William Sound harvest, in 2,122 deliveries, to 184,051 sockeyes, 32,437 chum, 8,739 Chinook, three humpies and that lone coho salmon.