Alaska’s salmon season will officially get underway on May 18 when runs of sockeye and king salmon return to the Copper River. The town of Cordova is buzzing.
“The first of May is when the mood changes and everyone says, wow! It’s time to go fishing! All of a sudden all of the folks who’ve been on vacation or prepping for fishing come back to town, all of the folks who live out of town arrive, boats are in and out of the water and the harbor is buzzing constantly.”
Christa Hoover, executive director of the fishermen funded and operated Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association. The fleet of more than 500 drift gillnetters is facing a reduced catch this season of just under 900-thousand sockeyes and only 4,000 kings, the lowest since Statehood. But that has not dampened enthusiasm –
“Regardless of what the forecast is from one year to the next, fishermen just want to have their nets in the water. They will be fishing a few less hours in the first couple of weeks, but they’re ready to go fishing. Get your boat ready, get your net in the water and go fishing.”
As always, Hoover says Alaska Airlines will be featuring its ‘first fish’ of the season, which pilots tenderly carry off the plane in Seattle to awaiting “Copper Chefs.”
“They invite three Seattle chefs each year who cook right on the tarmac, kind of like a cooking show competition and they serve small portions to invited guests and the media that’s there. “
The marketing group also uses the attention to promote Copper River coho salmon – a catch of just over 200,000 is expected this season.
“We have in the past done a lot of outreach to Lower 48 consumers understand that the CR salmon season isn’t just those first couple of weeks in May when there is a big splash – that there is five months of wild Alaska salmon coming out of Cordova. I think we have been effective in that. “
Hoover says they also are expanding messages to include sockeye salmon from Prince William Sound.
“We have not produced materials for PWS in the past and we have new point of sale items for those stores that choose to regionally call out Prince William Sound on the heels of Copper River. That is a new project.”