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2009 Copper River Salmon Season


rlibkind
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The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Commercial Fisheries Division, announced there will be a 12-hour window for Copper River salmon starting at 7 a.m. May 12. You can find the full news release, issued yesterday, here.

If Alaska Airlines' cargo division does its usual good job, the Chinook (King) should hit West Coast restaurants/stores the following day. However, all varieties may be harvested during the widow.

To give you an idea of how rare the Chinook is, here are the Copper River harvest totals from last year, by number of fish:

299,000 Sockeye (wild)

21,700 Sockeye (hatchery released)

11,500 Chinook

202,000 Coho

Pink and chum salmon were under 1,500 fish apiece.

The language in the news release is a bit imprecise as to whether or not there will be an additional window the following week. It reads that regulations "stipulates that there will be no more than one fishing period in waters inside of the barrier islands as described in 5 AAC 24.350(1)(B) during statistical weeks 20 (May 10-16) and 21 (May 17-23)."

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Commercial Fisheries Division, announced there will be a 12-hour window for Copper River salmon starting at 7 a.m. May 12. You can find the full news release, issued yesterday, here.

If Alaska Airlines' cargo division does its usual good job, the Chinook (King) should hit West Coast restaurants/stores the following day. However, all varieties may be harvested during the widow.

To give you an idea of how rare the Chinook is, here are the Copper River harvest totals from last year, by number of fish:

299,000 Sockeye (wild)

21,700 Sockeye (hatchery released)

11,500 Chinook

202,000 Coho

Pink and chum salmon were under 1,500 fish apiece.

The language in the news release is a bit imprecise as to whether or not there will be an additional window the following week. It reads that regulations "stipulates that there will be no more than one fishing period in waters inside of the barrier islands as described in 5 AAC 24.350(1)(B) during statistical weeks 20 (May 10-16) and 21 (May 17-23)."

What does Sockeye (hatchery released) mean? I thought all salmon from Alaska is wild. What a bummer.

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What does Sockeye (hatchery released) mean?  I thought all salmon from Alaska is wild.  What a bummer.

It means what it says: fish born and raised in a hatchery located within the named watershed (Copper River), then released into the wild. As you can see, this is a very small proportion of the total sockeye population.

Additionally, keep in mind that "hatchery released" is totally different than "farmed". Farmed fish spend their entire lives on the fish farm, and are fed manufactured feed by the "farmers" (aquaculturists), and are frequently administed supplements, including antibiotics. Once hatchery fish are released (which happens as the same age as wild fish would normally leave their home streams for the open seas), they feed and live the same as wild fish, then return to their home waters to spawn.

The hatchery program is more akin to "ranching" than "farming". The Alaskan program was introduced in the 1970s when wild salmon stocks were exceedingly low. The wild stocks have since rebounded dramatically and much care has been taken by Alaska to reduce risks to wild salmon fitness.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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What does Sockeye (hatchery released) mean?  I thought all salmon from Alaska is wild.  What a bummer.

It means what it says: fish born and raised in a hatchery located within the named watershed (Copper River), then released into the wild. As you can see, this is a very small proportion of the total sockeye population.

Additionally, keep in mind that "hatchery released" is totally different than "farmed". Farmed fish spend their entire lives on the fish farm, and are fed manufactured feed by the "farmers" (aquaculturists), and are frequently administed supplements, including antibiotics. Once hatchery fish are released (which happens as the same age as wild fish would normally leave their home streams for the open seas), they feed and live the same as wild fish, then return to their home waters to spawn.

The hatchery program is more akin to "ranching" than "farming". The Alaskan program was introduced in the 1970s when wild salmon stocks were exceedingly low. The wild stocks have since rebounded dramatically and much care has been taken by Alaska to reduce risks to wild salmon fitness.

Thank you, I did not not know that.

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Lord, I hope for a generous year of Kings, the rest too. Most of the Sockeyes I think, will be a bit later on.

I actually prefer the Yukon River run in about a month. The river is even longer and the fish have even more fat. I think the Yukon run is the longest river run for Salmon to breed of N.America.

Why not go for both, its impossible to loose!

Robert

Seattle

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  • 2 weeks later...

There were two additional 12-hour windows this week (Monday and Thursday) for the Copper River District.

My fishmonger at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market was selling CRS at $26.99/pound for fillets, and swore it was Chinook (King) rather than sockeye. I'm not so sure, given that Alaska Fish & Game's Commerciaion Division reports that for the first two days of the season (May 14 and 18), a total of 116,000 sockeye and fewer than 3,000 Chinook were landed.

I'll give it the taste test tonight. I like sockeye, too, but the CRS Chinook is awesome.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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When the season begins, I know that prices always start off highest but then subside somewhat as time passes. Does this mean that the quality is at its peak at the beginning, or is the high price more of a reflection of pent-up demand?

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Hi...Just wanted everyone to know I got Copper River Salmon at Costco (East Hanover) today for $10.99 a pound...YAY...It is so delicious and so good for us all...Enjoy.... :biggrin:  :biggrin:

The Hackensack Costco didn't have Copper River salmon last year, just wild salmon from Alaska, if I recall correctly. Is this the first time you saw Copper River salmon at your Costco?

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Hi...Just wanted everyone to know I got Copper River Salmon at Costco (East Hanover) today for $10.99 a pound...YAY...It is so delicious and so good for us all...Enjoy.... :biggrin:  :biggrin:

The Hackensack Costco didn't have Copper River salmon last year, just wild salmon from Alaska, if I recall correctly. Is this the first time you saw Copper River salmon at your Costco?

I thought they had it last year also..but I could be mistaken...

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Last Friday I made a trip to my local seafood shop, Williams Seafood, in search of fresh Copper River Salmon.

As I walked into the shop, Mike the Fish Guy and crew were working on fresh, whole, Copper River Sockeye’s. Mike’s brings in whole wild fish at least three times a week, and he butchers each fish to each customers specifications.

You can read more about my adventures with Mike the Fish Guy

here.

The Sockeye doesn’t get as much attention as the King or the Silver, but some of us up here in the Northwest actually prefer the Sockeye because the flesh is more oily, (and thus more juicy and flavorful), than other species of Salmon.

Last week Mike was selling Wild Copper River Sockeye for the reasonable price of $12.95 a pound. I’ve seen Copper River Sockeye for sale online at $23.95 a pound, basically double what Mike was selling it for. (Apparently most of the stock of Copper River King is already sold-out, so if you haven’t seen it in a local market, you may be out of luck).

gallery_41580_4407_8153.jpg

The photo doesn’t do justice to the true color of the Copper River Sockeye, which is a deep reddish-orange hue. The strips of fat along the belly of the salmon are an indication that this is a well-fed fish.

gallery_41580_4407_3065.jpg

gallery_41580_4407_14968.jpg

gallery_41580_4407_1965.jpg

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QFC grocery (Seattle) had CR sockeye for $11.95 / lb., with your grocery card, last week. They only mildly whined when I asked for just a pound and keep the tail end, please. We had ours right on the grill so we got a nice crisp skin.

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Sockeye is $9.99 a pound, on sale this week, here in Grand Rapids.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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