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The Copper River salmon craze: How the race began

By Russ Parsons

LA Times

The Copper River salmon craze: How the race began

A fisherman hauls in a Copper River salmon. (Al Grillo / Associated Press)

It’s been 30 years since Jon Rowleyfirst persuaded a few salmon fishermen on Alaska’s Copper River that they might be able to do something with their superb fish other than sell it to the cannery. But even he never guessed things would get this crazy.

Today, Copper River salmon is a smash hit. And at the root of this success are a couple of big ideas, one that seems obvious today -- getting the best fish and handling them carefully -- and one that is still a bit wacky -- a race to see which restaurant could serve the first Copper River king salmon of the season

As the Copper River season begins Wednesday, these fish will be one of the few name-dropped on menus. And the first fresh Copper River salmon of the season could fetch as much as $50 a pound.

But 30 years ago, almost none of the fish was even sold fresh.  When food marketing guru Jon Rowley offered the fishermen $3.50 a pound, they were overjoyed.

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Copper River/Prince William Sound Salmon

509 First Street- P.O. Box 199,

Cordova, AK 99574

Phone. 907-424-3459

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Email. info@copperrivermarketing.org