Hudson & Hubbell had some "Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon" on display in the fish case yesterday. It was selling for $30 a pound. "There is no such thing as Copper River salmon," Jon Rowley wrote back when I asked him how the season was going in Alaska. Instead, there is Copper River King salmon, and Copper River Sockeye salmon. And there's a big difference.
Rowley is a Seattle seafood marketing consultant and former fisherman who came up with the idea of adding the place name to the fish. He suggests that consumers need more details from retail fish counters and restaurants when they are paying these kinds of prices.
The season for Copper River King salmon, the highly prized fish that started the marketing trend, has been very spotty this year. It's been good for Copper River Sockeye salmon, but that fish sells for about half the price and tastes quite different. When somebody offers you Copper River salmon, ask them if it's King or Sockeye, Rowley advises, and make sure the price is right.
At the invitation of Hudson & Hubbell, I contacted their supplier, Louisiana Foods, and found that the "Copper River Salmon" available there is indeed the highly prized Copper River King.
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"We have only received 300 pounds of Copper River King all season," Jim Gossen told me. "But the report is that they are fishing again today." If you want to keep up with the latest Copper River fishing report, follow Alaska fisherman Bill Webber on Twitter -- he's tweeting from his fishing boat.