Alaska Airlines pilot delivers a first Copper River king salmon to awaiting fans at Seattle in 2020. 


Alaska’s 2021 salmon season officially starts next Monday, May 17, with a 12-hour opener for reds and kings at the Copper River.

All eyes will be on early Cordova dock prices as Alaska’s famous “first fresh salmon of the season” hits upscale wild salmon markets.

In 2020, Covid-forced closures of high end restaurants and seafood outlets tanked Copper River starting prices to $3 per pound for sockeyes and $6.50 for kings, down from $10 and $14, respectively, the previous year.

But early signs are looking good.

The National Retail Federation told Nation’s Restaurant News that there is a lot more consumer optimism this year as more people are getting vaccinated and stimulus checks are being distributed, and friends and family are moving about more freely.
Meanwhile, the Cordova Times reports that early orders are coming in fast for the season’s first Copper River fish.

Phones were said to be ringing off the hook at Pike’s Place Fish Market in Seattle where pre-orders for fresh sockeye fillets are retailing at $49.99 a pound, and $79.99 a pound for Copper River kings.

Sena Sea Seafoods in Washington, the sales arm of  Cordova-based 60 º North Seafoods, has pre-orders for fresh king fillets at $139 per pound and $122 for sockeyes.

Their four, eight ounce portions of frozen kings are going for $189, smaller orders already are sold out. Frozen sockeye pre-orders are at $95 for four, six ounce portions.

Copper Rivers Seafoods is taking orders for sockeye fillets at $49.95 a pound and king salmon fillets at $69.95, the Times said.

Anchorage-based online seafood marketer FishEx is promoting sockeye orders at $44.95 a pound  and $78.95 for Copper River kings.

State managers forecast low Copper River total catches this year at 652,000 sockeyes, 13,000 king salmon and 218,000 coho.

Overall, Alaska’s 2021 statewide salmon harvest is projected to top 190 million fish, a 61% increase over the 2020 catch.