Thursday, May 14, 2009

Here we go

The Copper River salmon fishery starts at 7 a.m. today with a 12-hour opener.

This fishery, as you might have heard, is a celebrated rite of spring and sort of the unofficial kickoff to a new Alaska commercial salmon season each year.

Some 500 gillnet boats out of Cordova and other ports will chase Chinook and sockeye, prized among gastronomes in Seattle and beyond as the "first salmon" of the season. Never mind that's not exactly so.

Anyway, having savored them myself, I can attest to the quality of the Copper River fish. Mighty tasty.

Here's a couple of thoughts to ponder as we sail into opening day:

• Will the recession crimp those absurdly high prices Copper River fishermen usually enjoy at the docks early in the season? We've seen upwards of $7 a pound for Chinook and $5 for sockeye. I'm guessing a little less irrational exuberance this year.

• Will Copper River salmon returns rebound from last year? State biologists are forecasting a Chinook harvest of 30,000 fish and a sockeye catch of 704,000 fish. Not great, but way better than last season’s sorry results: 11,450 Chinook and 320,815 sockeye.

All right, enough with the pregame warm-up. Be safe out there, guys, and good fishing.

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