The official opening to our 2021 Copper River Salmon fishery is Monday 17 May
Starting tomorrow the few fishermen who have the proper licenses to fish the Copper River region will be allowed to do so, likely twice per week for a few hours each of those days. The State of Alaska has written into law that our catch levels must work in harmony with nature. It is mandated that fish catches cannot surpass the abundance threshold on any given year, month or week.
Our fishery takes place in the open ocean. The end destination for the Salmon is the Copper River where they will spawn and die, completing their life cycle. Their eggs will produce the next generation of salmon who will leave the safety of the river beds for the open ocean. Amazingly, years later those little fish return, all grown up; to the same tributary to end their life cycle and produce the following generation.
Sonars are located at key access points at the mouth of the Copper River. These sonars count the fish as they swim past. Hourly totals are used to inform when the next fishery harvest will occur. If very few fish have entered the river system we will be prohibited from fishing. If many fish are charging past the sonar counter- additional fishing time will be announced by the fishery biologists who closely monitor each days influx of fish into the river system.
Because of a very late spring (we still have snow in our yard) the river is still very frozen. This restricts water outflow and gives the salmon less water to swim up stream in. Also the sonar counter cannot be mounted into position when massive ice chunks are still breaking loose and floating down stream.
Without the counters fish biologists are cautious and give little fishing time.
Fish don't have calendars and the general consensus is that our fishery will be off to a slow start. Once temperatures warm and the river system begins flowing (and the snow melts form our yard) we anticipate our catches to improve in volume.
However the pre-season prediction by biologists is that we will have a smaller than average Copper River Salmon return and minimal fishing time with small catch volume anticipated.
Every year is different. But as always we will do our best to get the very finest of these beautiful Salmon from our hands to yours. 😊
“I am a fisherwoman with a commitment to sustainable fishing practices, environmental protections and the advancement of gender equity."