Welch: Copper River salmon harvesters set nets

Trollers in Southeast Alaska provide fresh king salmon nearly year round, but the runs of reds and kings to the Copper River mark the “official start” of Alaska’s salmon season.

On May 15, a fleet of more than 570 fishermen set out their nets on a beautiful day for the first 12-hour opener amidst the usual hype for the first fish.

“We’ve got a lot of people riding around in the sky checking out the conditions, and a lot of people are getting ready to move the fish to other places for First Fish celebrations,” said Kim Ryals, executive director of the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association.

Out on the fishing grounds, it was a “very slow day, to say the least,” said veteran high liner Bill Webber of Cordova.

“Even with the warmer environmental conditions we had this spring, I think we are in front of the run,” Webber said. “I just hope we stay on the return trend we have been enjoying in recent years. Well, it is the first period and we have to get a few more to see the trend for this year.”

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