Commercial salmon seasons are popping open across Alaska, but catches are barely registering so far.

Managers have officially called the Copper River season a bust after four dismal fishing periods since mid-May, and low catches of sockeyes and kings at 69,000 and 4,000 respectively.

“Most likely our next fishing period for sockeye will be in May 2021,” said Bill Webber of Paradigm Seafoods as he headed west to “the only game in town” — the Prince William Sound gillnet fisheries.

Kodiak crabbers were still pulling up Dungeness crab in early June, although prices had reportedly dropped by more than a dollar from last year’s average of $2.65 per pound. That had several crabbers selling Tanners direct from the docks at $10 a pop.

Southeast Alaska’s summer Dungeness fishery opened Monday, June 15. Last year’s catch of 4.2 million pounds was the best in a decade for 200 permit holders, and combined summer and fall openers set a record for fishermen at $16.3 million.

Norton Sound opened for red king crab on June 15 for a 150,000-pound fishery; more will be taken during the winter season. A 5,000-ton herring food and bait fishery also is under way through June near Shaktoolik at Norton Sound.

A lingcod fishery is ongoing in parts of Southeast, and divers are still bringing up geoduck clams.

The spawn-on-kelp pound fishery at Craig and Klawok yielded nearly 600,000 pounds of product for 147 pounders, the highest ever numbers for both. They won’t know the value of the unique delicacy until the fall.

Halibut landings were approaching 5 million pounds out of a nearly 17 million-pound catch limit with Homer, Sitka and Kodiak the top ports for deliveries. For blackcod, the catch was pushing 10 million pounds out of a 32 million-pound quota. Sitka was way ahead of all other ports for landings, followed by Kodiak and Cordova.

Out in the Bering Sea, the nation’s largest food fishery — Alaska pollock — reopened for the B season on June 10. Fishing for cod also reopened in the Bering Sea that same day.

Laine Welch is an independent Kodiak, Alaska-based fisheries journalist. Click here to send her an email.

Join the Conversation

Small Featured Spot