Salmon season arrives as Alaska Copper River catch hits market

Spirits were high early this morning when an Alaska Airlines jet touched down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) with some of the salmon season’s first sellable catch: 18,000 pounds of wild Alaska Copper River salmon.

Alaska Airlines Captain Larry Packer and First Officer Peter Michels landed at Sea-Tac just after 6 a.m. on 15 May and carried the first ceremonial 53-pound king salmon from the aircraft to be used for the morning’s annual cook off between three top area chefs, a Copper River salmon culinary tradition (main photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines).

The airline has upwards of five more planes scheduled to depart Alaska full of Copper River salmon throughout the day on Friday. Said aircrafts will deliver Copper River catch to seafood processors Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods. Extra flights will depart Cordova, Alaska, and arrive in Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, where the fish will be shipped throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the United States on Friday and throughout the weekend, Alaska Airlines said.

"Alaska Air Cargo is proud to deliver the largest catch of wild Copper River salmon from our namesake state to the masses here in Seattle and across the country," added Betsy Bacon, Alaska Air Cargo managing director. "As the salmon season gets into full swing, our team is prepared to continue to bring fresh Alaska salmon to restaurants and consumers in the Lower 48 and points beyond."

Last year, the airline air-freighted nearly 25 million pounds of Alaska seafood to the other 48 states and beyond, including 1.2 million pounds of Copper River salmon.

Reports have the Copper River salmon selling at USD 25 per pound for the first weekend. Thereafter, prices will come down quickly, perhaps more expediently than normal given the large supply, KIRO TV speculated.

As for the Copper Chef Cook-off, three chefs competed: Executive chef and last year's Copper Chef winner John Howie of Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar (@ChefJohnHowie), executive chef Eric Tanaka of TanakaSan (@HeyTanakaSan) and executive chef Ethan Stowell of Staple & Fancy and Tavolata (@ESRseattle)


This year, executive chef Ethan Stowell prevailed in preparing the best dish with the 53-pound king salmon in only 30 minutes. A panel of four judges appraised the event, including the Seattle Seahawks' first quarterback Jim Zorn, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer Jay Buhner, Seattle Storm President and General Manager Alisha Valavanis and Alaska Air Cargo's Managing Director Betsy Bacon.

Explore the recipes used in the Copper Chef Cook-off in the window below.


Keep up with the Copper River festivities by following Alaska Airlines on Twitter @AlaskaAir and on their blog.



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