The official start of Alaska’s salmon season is just one week away with the first 12 hour opener on May 17 at the Copper River near Cordova. The catch there this year calls for 19,000 kings and just under one million sockeye salmon (942,000).

Grundens new Deck Boss boots. At gear shops soon!

Statewide, Alaska’s 2018 salmon harvest is projected at 149 million fish, down 34 percent from last year’s take of 226 million. The shortfall stems from lower projections for pink salmon.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a total humpie harvest of just over 70 million, down by half from last year.

For sockeyes, a statewide catch of about 52 million is down by 1.8 million fish from 2017, which was the 5th largest red salmon catch since 1970.

By far, most of the sockeyes will come from Bristol Bay’s nine river systems where a harvest of 37.5 million is projected, down by more than a million from last year.

For chum salmon, this year’s catch is pegged at 21 million, down by nearly four million from last year’s huge haul of 25 million, the largest catch in in 47 years.

The 2018 coho catch is pegged at 5.8 million, nearly 600,000 more silvers than last season.

For Chinook salmon, a catch of 99,000 kings is projected in areas outside of Southeast Alaska, where the numbers are determined by treaty with Canada.

The Southeast harvest will be just 130,000 fish for all users, down 80,000 from last year. For commercial trollers the take is just under 96,000 kings from a few select areas.  (95,700)

The market outlook is good heading into the season.

Demand for Alaska salmon is fairly strong and competing farmed salmon prices are high, says Andy Wink of Wink Research and Consulting and despite catching over a billion pounds of salmon last year, there are no big inventory concerns.

As a reference, here are the 2017 average salmon prices at the Alaska docks:

For Chinook salmon, $5.86 a pound —-  sockeyes at $1.13 —- cohos averaged $1.19 —  pink salmon at $.32 — and chums averaged a nice $.66 a pound.

The value of the 2017 salmon fishery was nearly $680 million at the docks – a nearly 67% increase over 2016.