The famed Copper River wild salmon fishery, on the heels of a slow start, is picking up speed, with the state’s official estimate of the catch now at 361,000 fish, including 338,000 red, 3,000 king, 19,000 chum and fewer than 1,000 silver and pink salmon.
You can follow the daily catch report updates online with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game blue sheet at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesheet
Some 500 drift gillnet permit owners are currently participating in the fishery, and there are no reports of processing capacity problems, state fisheries officials said.
At Cordova’s Ocean Beauty Seafoods facilities, plant manager Michael Clutter said his company is “pretty happy” with the progress of the fishery.
The fourth opener, a 24-hour period, proved marginally better than the third opener, with averages up, not dramatically, but improved, he said.
While harvest estimates on that opener were still being calculated today, ADF&G has announced a 36-hour opener to begin on May 29.
Jeremy Botz of ADF&G’s Cordova office said that while the weather has been fairly decent, overcast, and temperatures in the low 50s, the salmon are spread out, a situation that has somewhat slowed the harvest.
Prices on king salmon were holding steady at $35.95 a pound for fillets or $25.95 a pound for whole fish in Anchorage, while at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, whole kings are $35.99 a pound and fillets $47.99 a pound.
Sockeye prices at Pike Place are $79.95 a fish and $25.99 a pound for fillets, while in Anchorage they have dropped to $12.95 a pound for whole fish and $17.95 a pound for the fillets.