The first opening for the 2017 Wild Alaska Salmon will take place on Thursday, May 18. Copper River Kings are expected to be very scarce and expensive, Copper River sockeye should be available in better numbers than Kings, but first opening fish is always crazy expensive. I will put pre orders in today, please let me know which customer you have that want to get fish from this first opener. Prices will not be set until the run is underway. Best case is that we may see fish in house on Monday, May 22 from this run.
COPPER RIVER DISTRICT
The 2017 Copper River king salmon forecast of 29,000 fish is the smallest since 1985 and continues a recent pattern of weak returns. The department will implement additional commercial salmon fishery restrictions this season to reduce commercial king salmon harvest. An expanded inside waters closure area is expected to remain in place through the entire king salmon run timing. There will only be a single 12-hour fishing period during the first week of the fishery instead of the normal two periods per week. Reduced fishing time and area is anticipated during the following weeks of the fishery. Upriver sport, personal use, and subsistence fisheries have already been closed or restricted for the season. These actions are being taken to ensure the achievement of the 24,000 or more king salmon sustainable escapement goal.
The Copper River District will open for the season at 7:00 am on Thursday, May 18 for a 12-hour commercial fishing period. Waters within the expanded Chinook salmon inside closure area will be closed during this period.
The inside closure area this year has changed, if you look at the map in the announcement, north of the blue line is closed, the old line in green between the land and the islands is the old lines. This means that all the vessels are basically fishing in the ocean this year and there will be nowhere to fish if the weather is nasty without getting the snot beat out of them. This line will likely remain in effect for the duration of the king run.
Typically kings will stay near the bottom and go underneath the net in deeper water, in the shallow water the nets can extend all the way to the bottom, thus catching more kings.
In general, the expectation is for a smaller king salmon return this year and they want to make sure that there is sufficient escapement for the future. However, allowing for the future means less catch for this year. Fewer fish, same expenses equals higher prices.