Copper River opens to low catches salmon prices
Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 18:00 (GMT + 9)
Cold water from a lingering harsh winter likely kept the salmon from moving up the Copper River on the May 14 opening day.
The 12 hour fishery, which officially marks the start of Alaska’s salmon season, produced just over 3,059 fish.
Another Monday opener doubled the total take to 9,414 salmon– about two-thirds were sockeyes.
As expected the Covid-forced closures of high end restaurants caused fishermen’s prices to tank with a base reported at $3 to $3.50 a pound for sockeyes and $6 to $6.50 for kings.
They’ll settle out higher when bonuses are added in – but it pales to last year’s record opening prices at $10 for reds and $14 for kings.
Still, Seafood Source reports that fresh sockeyes fetched $34.99 a pound at QFC in Seattle and kings at $44.99. Pikes Place Market had reds at $49.99 per pound and $74.99, respectively.
Pikes Place also was advertising per-orders of whole Copper River kings at $659.99 for a 12 pound fish!
Meanwhile, trollers in Southeast have been catching spring hatchery-bound Chinook salmon since May 1.
Over 1,318 have been caught so far and prices have tanked, along with fish weights.
State managers report an average price of $5.74 a pound, down from $10.12 in 2019, and down $4.04 from the five year average.
The seasonal Chinook weight so far of 10.9 pounds is a drop of a pound over the same average.
Salmon fisheries will open next on May 25 for kings at Cook Inlet and a first opener for sockeyes is set at Kodiak for June 9 but could open as early as June 1.
Author: Laine Welch / Alaska Fish Radio