FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The opening of the Copper River salmon season has exceeded expectations for red salmon, but fewer kings than anticipated were caught by commercial fishermen.
The preliminary harvest for the 12-hour Cordova opening was 18,600 red salmon and 1,400 kings, instead of a projected harvest of 9,300 reds and 2,800 kings.
Glenn Hollowell, a commercial fisheries biologist in Cordova, attributed the smaller chinook harvest to low tides during the opening.
“Fish move around when they’re in a high tide series,” he said. “Had we had better tides I think the king catch would have been higher.”
Hollowell said the fact fishermen caught twice as many reds as projected is good news, but adds that one 12-hour opening doesn’t mean much.
As many as 500 boats participated in the first commercial opening.
Processors were paying $5.30 a pound for kings and $3.50 a pound for reds. That’s down slightly from last year’s opening-day prices.
The arrival of Copper River salmon in Seattle is the first wild salmon of the year and it is heralded with great excitement and exorbitant prices. Kings topped out at $50 per pound and reds at $30 per pound last year in Seattle.
The first batch of Copper River salmon – about 20,000 pounds – arrived in Seattle Friday aboard an Alaska Airlines flight. Prices are expected to be lower this year.
Biologists are projecting a Copper River run of 1.3 million red salmon and 77,000 kings.
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