Prices hold for Inlet reds

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Prices for Cook Inlet sockeye salmon are holding firm, fishermen say, with production from the huge Bristol Bay run coming in below the numbers in peak years, at least so far.

''It's looking pretty darn good,'' said Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association president Rob Williams. ''The posted price is 80 cents, with 10 cents more for delivery, that brings it to 90 cents per pound.''

Williams said posted prices early in the season usually range between 70 and 90 cents and usually change depending on what happens in Bristol Bay.

''If Bristol Bay stays under 30 million (fish caught), that usually helps our price,'' he said. ''But it looks like they're not going to make that.''

Bristol Bay fishermen have netted 14.6 million fish so far, heading toward a catch that should come in around the preseason forecast of roughly 24 million fish, down a bit from 26 million last year. The Fourth of July is generally considered the midpoint of the Bristol Bay season.

In Cook Inlet, Williams said the salmon he caught during Monday's opening were bigger than normal.

''They were about a half-pound larger than usual, making them 5 1/2 pounds,'' he said.

Biologist Jeff Fox of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said setnetters on the east side of the inlet brought in 22,000 reds Monday, while driftnetters took 42,000, with an average of 101 fish per boat.

Total catch in Cook Inlet so far is 117,000 sockeye, but the run is in its early stages. Last year, fishermen took about 2.6 million reds in upper Cook Inlet.

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