Copper River Gearing Up For Chinook Opener

Copper River photo by Erin McKittrick/Wikimedia

Opening Day is almost here! Alaska’s salmon season usually kicks off with the Copper River king salmon opener (Alaska Airlines makes a big deal out of the occasion). The salmon season opens next week, and the Alaska Journal of Commerce has a little more on the opener:

Prince William Sound, traditionally the first salmon fishery to hit the markets, is expected to open May 13 in the Copper River and Bering River districts, with the subsequent areas opening in June. The sockeye salmon are the most famous fish from the Copper River fishery, but the kings kick off the season with the annual airplane ceremonies in Anchorage and Seattle for the first king deliveries.

The forecast for a return 55,000 Copper River kings is about 20 percent above the recent 10-year average run of 46,000 fish, according to the Prince William Sound 2019 forecast.

The forecast for sockeye salmon in the Copper, which is regarded as the most accurate forecast in the region, is about 1.4 million wild fish and 98,000 hatchery fish, about 31 percent and 69 percent below the recent 10-year averages respectively. But ADFG warns caution there as well; last year, the summer brought about 1 million fewer fish than the forecast predicted and there were just a handful of openings for kings.