Copper River Salmon Season continues with Coho


Copper River Salmon Season continues with Coho

Kim Menster, F/V Quik Set


Aug 21, 2012

Cordova, Alaska— With the bulk of Alaska’s summer salmon runs wrapped up, the commercial fishermen of Cordova, Alaska are shifting gears to harvest the last great salmon of the season – Copper River Coho.

A beautiful harbinger of fall, coho, also known as silver salmon, are a perfect addition to the late summer grill and work equally as well in a smoker, on a cedar plank, or in a robust chowder. Averaging 9 to 10 pounds per fish, coho are lighter in color and have a milder flavor and more delicate texture than sockeye or king.

The coho season kicks off in mid-August and will run through the end of September. Jeremy Botz, the Gillnet Area Management Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, forecasts a comercial harvest of 281,000 coho salmon this season. According to Botz, “The typical coho salmon fishing schedule is one period a week initially and fishing time is either increased or decreased as the season progresses, based on coho salmon escapement indices and actual harvest.”

Overall, the fishery is smaller than the sockeye run and is often influenced by the season’s shorter days and harsher more unpredictable weather. The consumer demand for the fish, however, is strong and local processors are already starting to get requests for it. Sue Laird, Co-Owner and Vice President of Prime Select Seafoods, in Cordova explained, “We sell a lot of fresh coho and it ships all over the country. Many people who don’t think they like salmon love coho because of its milder flavor compared to the richness of sockeye and king.”

Kim Menster owns the F/V Quik Set, a 30-foot fiberglass bow picker. She has been fishing in the region since 1998 and really likes the slower pace of coho season because, “there are fewer boats out there, the pressure is off and we all fish it a little differently.” Fishermen will team up and head out for a couple of weeks at a time to fish, beachcomb, hunt and forage for berries and mushrooms to wrap up a busy and productive season. Menster explained, “We all like coho season because everything slows down a bit and we get to enjoy fall on the Copper River delta.”