Pre-orders for first Copper River salmon are brisk at retail

Lots of interest in the first Copper River salmon; prices are down from last year.

by | May 9, 2024

Prices are high, but down from last year’s starters

The Copper River fishery for sockeye and Chinook salmon opens on May 16 signaling the official start of Alaska’s 2024 salmon season.

Numerous sources say that suppliers are reporting strong interest in the fishery’s prized “first of the season “salmon” despite high prices.

At the famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle early orders put potential customer prices for one-pound Copper River sockeye fillets at $59.99 and one-pound king salmon fillets at $99.99 for the first fish that hits the market this year.

A fresh, whole, four pound sockeye is likely to fetch $159.96.

A fresh, whole king salmon is pegged at $489.93 (no size is specified).

The prices for Copper River salmon typically decline quite a bit after the hoopla surrounding the “first fish.”

Starting prices at retail are down from 2023

Even before boats hit the water last season, Pike Place Market was taking orders for $899.99 for whole Copper River king salmon and $199.95 for sockeye, according to the Cordova Times.

Pre-orders for fillets in 2023 were priced at $129.99 per pound for Chinook and $74.98 per pound for sockeyes.

Starting prices to fishermen in 2023 were reported at $10 per pound for sockeyes and $15 for king salmon.

That was down significantly from 2022 grounds prices at Copper River which were $11.50 per pound for sockeyes and $16.50 for kings.

Forecast calls for a strong sockeye harvest; uncertain number for kings

The 2024 commercial harvest forecasts for the Copper River District are 1.30 million sockeye salmon, which is 46% above the 10-year average of 893,000 fish. Fishery managers said that for Chinook salmon conservation, the ‘inside closure area’, will be closed during early season fishing periods and may be expanded early in the season to include waters inside the barrier islands east of Coffee Creek.

The Copper River Chinook salmon total run forecast (47,000 fish) is 2% below the 10-year average of 48,000 fish.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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