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First catch of the tasty — and pricey — Copper River salmon hits Seattle Friday

SEATTLE — In what’s become an annual event, the first catch of tasty Copper River salmon will be flown from Cordova, Alaska, into Sea-Tac Airport Friday morning.

The first shipment of thousands of pounds of salmon is scheduled to arrive at 6:30 a.m., according to Alaska Airlines.

After the arrival of the fish, three Seattle executive chefs will compete for the best salmon recipe in the annual “Copper Chef Cook-off.”

Every year from May through September, king, sockeye, and coho return to the Copper River to make the arduous 300-mile journey up the glacial fed waters to spawn in their birthplace. This is no easy task and they need to pack on sufficient fat reserves to fuel their journey—resulting in salmon rich in omega-3 fatty acids and flavorful oils.

This year’s run was forecast to be 48,000 kings and 1.8 million sockeye.

Because their stocks have been declining, and the high demand for Copper River salmon, prices are expected to be high. Last year, the first catch was selling in Seattle for nearly $50 a pound.