The Copper River salmon fishery is off and running, with first opener harvest of some 22,500 sockeyes and 1,300 kings.
Alaska Airlines officials said they expected to deliver up to 60,000 pounds of that catch on four flights into Seattle by late yesterday, while another Alaska Airlines flight made deliveries into Anchorage.
Upwards of 20,000 pounds of reds and kings arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday for the red carpet event that included the annual Copper Chef Cook-off. Three of the city’s top chefs competed in the tarmac cooking competition to see whose recipes – using portions of a 40-pound Chinook donated by Copper River Seafoods – were the best.
Jason Berry, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo, said his staff works hard to ensure delivery of that first catch from Alaska to Seattle, and on across the country within 24 hours of being caught.
Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist at Cordova for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the red salmon catch came in a bit below the forecast, while the Chinook catch was about as anticipated.
Some 480 fishing vessels were on the grounds for the opener in the Copper River District, Botz said. The sockeyes averaged about five pounds, while kings were weighing in at about 16 pounds, he said.
Seattle’s famed Pike Place Fish Market was advertising whole fresh Copper River sockeyes for $174.95 a fish, fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for $44.99, plus other fresh whole wild Alaska kings for $24.99 a pound and other fresh wild Alaskan king fillets for $39.99 a pound.
The online seafood shop Fishex in Anchorage was offering fresh Copper River king fillet premium center cut portions for $64.95 a pound, and fresh Copper River sockeye fillet center cut premiere portions for $46.95 a pound.