Copper River sockeye harvest swells to 256,205 reds

Commercial harvests of sockeye, Chinook and chum salmon in the Copper River salmon fishery reached a preliminary total of nearly 273,000 fish on Tuesday, with results still being counted from the opener on Monday.

The estimated 256,205 sockeyes were near the anticipated harvest for reds, while the 5,870 Chinooks were just below their anticipated catch, said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist in Cordova for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

Sockeye weights, averaging 5.5 pounds, are up a little from last year, while Chinooks, averaging 14 pounds to 15 pounds, were weights similar to recent year averages, Botz said.

Fishing weather has been a bit challenging, what with some strong winds and a lot of rain over the past two weeks, plus temperatures in the 40s. 

“It’s been a little cooler than normal (for this time of year),” Botz said.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the drift gillnetters had 362 deliveries to processors in Cordova, bringing in an estimated total of 138,240 sockeyes, 10,867 chum and 1,117 Chinook, according to ADF&G reports.


The sockeye and chum catches delivered were the largest to date in the five openers, while the Chinook catch of 1,117 fish ranked third among the five openers.

At 10th and M Seafoods in Anchorage, the demand for the Copper River fish remained strong with many customers ordering 15 pounds of sockeye fillets at a time for $18.95 a pound. Whole-headed and gutted sockeyes are $11.95 a pound.

At Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, demand for those first of the season Copper River fish remains strong. Prices were holding at $29.99 a pound for fresh fillets of Copper River sockeyes, $79.99 a pound for fresh Copper River king fillets, $99.99 a pound for fresh whole Copper River sockeyes averaging 4.4 pounds and $549.99 for fresh, whole Copper River kings.