Copper River salmon season kicks off with Sea-Tac arrival

May 16, 2023, 1:07 PM | Updated: 2:12 pm

Copper River Salmon...

The first Copper River Salmon arrives at Sea-Tac. (Sam Campbell)

(Sam Campbell)

Copper River salmon season has officially kicked off as the Alaska Air flight — carrying 18,000 pounds of salmon — arrived at the Alaska Air Cargo Warehouse at 8:25 a.m. Tuesday.

The first 34-pound king salmon was honored at a ceremony this morning in front of a crowd that included celebrity chef, and co-host of The Hot Stove Society, Tom Douglas.

“The best thing to do with salmon is to pack the bellies with ice. Get it right into the kitchen right away,” Douglas said. “You often see salmon in the marketplace that is a week old. This thing is 18 hours old.”

Seafood industry workers said the Copper River produces some of the best-tasting salmon because of the high fat and nutrients the fish need for the long journey upstream.

The salmons’ arrival in Seattle is so anticipated that the first fish gets its own welcome kiss.

“It’s just one of those traditions,” Ali Turner, sales director at Trident Seafoods, said. “You gotta kiss the fish, right?”

Golden Gardens, Alki Beach parks cut hours for summer

The annual spring tradition usually comes with much fanfare when the Boeing “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon” arrives from Cordova, Alaska. This year, it arrived in a standard cargo plane.

The fish is more expensive than coho or pink salmon, reportedly selling for $80 a pound at Pike Place Market.

KIRO 7 contributed to this story.

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Copper River salmon season kicks off with Sea-Tac arrival