Copper River sockeye harvest still high in demand

With the run slowing and deliveries dropping, consumer demand is still high for those famed Copper River wild red salmon.

As of Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had calculated the preliminary catch from the Copper River commercial drift gillnetters at 469,678 wild salmon — including 445,147 sockeyes, 15,875 chum, 8,628 Chinook, 27 humpies and a lone coho.

Cordova based state fisheries biologist Jeremy Botz said the sockeye harvest was coming in at about near normal, while the Chinook run was well below projections.

The fishery has begun winding down — with a total of just 155 deliveries on Monday, the last 12-hour opener for which a preliminary catch estimate was posted, including some 20,168 red salmon.

The highest preliminary number of deliveries posted for the drift gillnetter fleet was 502 on June 1, with 123,448 red salmon harvested.

Copper River salmon aficionados meanwhile were heeding the annual warning that when those first run fish are gone, they’re gone. At 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage, Copper River sockeye fillet orders were averaging 12-15 pounds, for $13.99 a pound.


Other Anchorage retailers offering Copper River red fillets were Costco at $11.95 a pound, New Sagaya at $13.99 a pound, and the online seafood company FishEx, which offered “premium portions” of those sockeye fillets at $54.95 a pound.

Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market was still pricing their Copper River red fillets at $29.99 a pound and orders were averaging 3-5 pounds, according to their fishmongers.