Sockeye catches soared at first Copper River opener; prices same as 2023

Sockeye catches at Copper River's first opener were nearly 3x higher than expected.

by | May 21, 2024

A second 12-hour opener is going on today/May 21

The May 16 salmon opener at the Copper River near Cordova produced unexpectedly big catches of sockeyes.

Fishery managers predicted that the first fishery would produce a harvest of 14,900 sockeye salmon. To their surprise, the take was 41,857 reds, nearly three times what was expected.

For Chinook salmon, the first harvest was 1,108 fish.

A total of 376 deliveries were made by the Copper River drift gillnet fleet.

[Find daily AK salmon catches by region and species at our Home Page under Fish Catches]

Prices remain stagnant from last year

The price to fishermen for the season’s first fresh sockeye salmon was $10 per pound and $15 for Chinook salmon, reported Intrafish who had “boots on the grounds.”

Those are the same first prices paid to fishermen in 2023 for both sockeyes and kings. That compares to $11.50 per pound for sockeye salmon in 2022 and $16.50 for king salmon.

The fleet is fishing a second 12-hour opener today (May 21) that began at 7 a.m.

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.

High salmon prices at retail

The famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle has prices for one-pound Copper River sockeye fillets at $59.99, and one-pound king salmon fillets at $99.99.

A fresh, whole, four-pound sockeye is priced at $159.96.

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

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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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