Copper River Salmon


Where do the world’s finest salmon come from? Four thousand feet above the Gulf of Alaska sits Mt. Wrangell’s Copper Glacier. Here, in this magical place, thousand-year-old glacier ice transforms into water. This is the birthplace of the Copper River, and home to Alaska’s legendary Copper River salmon.

This is the birthplace of the Copper River, and home to Alaska’s legendary Copper River salmon.

On its 300-mile descent to the Gulf of Alaska, the icy mineral-rich glacial water of this great river gains strength and outflows into the Copper River Delta to create a vast dizzying maze of dynamic river channels that spread throughout the expansive coastal wetland to meet the salty open seas of the Gulf of Alaska.

Ferocious surf guards the mouth of the river where the powerful freshwater outflow meets the salty seas.

How wild salmon know to return to their exact place of birth is one of life’s greatest mysteries, yet each Spring, Copper River salmon are irresistibly beckoned to re-enter the freshwater and endure one last journey up this mighty river to spawn the next generation of the World’s Finest Salmon. No other salmon in the world could thrive here. For Copper River salmon, this river is home.


Copper River salmon must store up more energy in the form of healthy Omega-3 oils than any other wild salmon to fuel their journey up the 300-mile river. This characteristic difference, possessed only by salmon of true Copper River origin, sets this fish apart in flavor and color and results in an eating experience that is unmatched by any other salmon – farmed or wild – available on the market today.

The story of this mystical salmon goes beyond the river. The prized Copper River salmon on menus today, comes from a millennia-long lineage of the World’s Finest Salmon, which has been harvested and consumed for thousands of years. So prized is this salmon resource that its home in Alaska is a sacred and protected National Preserve, a coveted status that confirms what the Indigenous people of the Copper Basin have known for thousands of years.


Copper River salmon are harvested by a small commercial fishing fleet, comprised of 500 independent fishermen. This fishery is certified by two Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI) recognized sustainability certification schemes, including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Program (AKRFM).

Beyond its premium sustainability accolades, Copper River salmon is revered by Chefs for the artisanal fishing practices that are unique to this region of Alaska and have been passed down for generations. The salmon are harvested during extremely short fishing openers (12-hours in early season), individually picked from the fishing nets, immediately bled, and then gently submerged in a mixture of flaked ice and seawater to mimic the ocean water’s glacial temperatures. The day’s catch is delivered to shore-based processors in Cordova, Alaska, and flown fresh to Chefs and restaurants around the country within 24-48 hours of leaving the sea.


To eat Copper River king salmon is the epitome of seasonal eating. Available for only a few weeks of the year, this species of salmon is fully deserving of premium menu placement. Of the three species of Copper River salmon, the Copper River king is by far the biggest, weighing in on average 10-20 pounds. Copper River king salmon spend more time eating and growing at sea than other species of wild salmon and are therefore larger and contain the highest levels of Omega-3s. This prized salmon is identified by a regal black mouth, large sharp teeth, and the perfect brushstroke of black spots that extends along the bright silver scales of the spine through to the tip of the tail. Copper River king salmon has a rich, buttery flavor with a velvety melt-in-your-mouth texture. The flesh, when cooked, is firm, yet delicate, a combination that sends waves of pleasure through even the most seasoned culinarian’s senses. Salmon savants suggest this fish is best served simply, to let the pure unadulterated ocean flavors and rich oils shine. It is no wonder this salmon commands a price premium, or that its pursuit has become a ritual, an epicurean scavenger hunt that sends food lovers flocking to the Chefs and restaurants who make it the star of Spring.


And then, there’s Copper River sockeye. From mid-May to early-July, Copper River sockeye, more abundant than Copper River king, gives salmon lovers the salmon fix they’ve been waiting for. Copper River sockeye is a smaller salmon than Copper River king, weighing roughly 4-6 pounds in the round.

With a firmer texture than Copper River king, this salmon is perfect for grilling. Full and robust flavor, a silken texture, and an uncommon richness characterize and differentiate this salmon from all other wild salmon species. Few ingredients are required to enhance the rich complexity of the flavors intrinsically possessed by this wild salmon.


Every August, fishermen of the region turn their attention to Copper River coho. The season runs through late-September and marks the end of Alaska’s fresh wild salmon season. Copper River coho possesses an approachable, mild flavor and delicate texture, but with the rich, luxurious oil content that defines and differentiates Copper River salmon. This fish is a Fall favorite and pairs well – just as nature intended – with seasonal root vegetables and mushrooms.

From nose to tail, Copper River Salmon has it all. Contact us at info@copperrivermarketing.org and find your menu source for fresh Copper River Salmon today. 

Our Story: www.copperriversalmon.org

Copper River Provenance, Season, and Tasting Notes: https://www.copperriversalmon.org/about-us/our-fish

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