Fresh Fish Series: Copper River Salmon Is Here!

May 18, 2017

The Mighty Copper River
The Mighty Copper River

Copper River Salmon is here!

Not so fast. We’ll be waiting on edge all day today to find out if the salmon are out there. Yesterday, the fishing fleets headed a couple of hours away from Cordova, AK to the mouth of the Copper River delta.  Most scouted the area yesterday looking for the best spots to set nets. Then, 7am this morning, Alaska Fish and Game gave the call. Fishing is on!

They’ll have 12 hours to fish. Some will offload fish at nearby tender boats, but most will race back to Cordava to offload their catch where they’ll receive more money for the catch.

Variables to make a successful fishing trip are countless. Ocean swells, tides, air temperatures, water temperatures, wind, rain, river flow, sediment, delta sandbars, (they change all of the time), number of boats fishing. It keeps going. Not an easy way of life.

How about some bullet points?

  • The Copper River is 290 miles long. It’s the tenth largest in the United States.
  • The ruggedness of the river, with its vast gorges and steep falling grade, make it necessary for the salmon to become fat and strong in order to swim upstream and spawn. Hence why they are so delicious.
  • It’s known for its miles of sprawling deltas.
  • On the sandbars, you’ll see massive groups of bald eagles, sea lions and the occasional bear waking up from the winter hibernation.
  • 1983 Ray’s partnered with Jon Rowley and became the first restaurant in the Pacific NW to serve Copper River Salmon. We’ve served Copper River salmon ever since. (I was 2 years old then).

Ray’s has again partnered with Ocean Beauty Seafoods for Copper River season. They’ll make sure we have a few king salmon to prepare your dinner Friday evening. We have to be patient though… It’s a tight timeline for a long journey.  Fish is caught, sent to processing, trucked to the small Cordava airport, loaded on to an Alaska Airlines plane to Anchorage then down to SeaTac. From there they go to Ocean Beauty’s facility in Seattle, and finally to Ray’s Boathouse. All in a matter of about 30 hours!

Along with Ocean Beauty, we have a new partner this year, Michael and Nelly Hand. Drifters Fish is their company name. They will be fishing and giving us updates direct from the boat! Hopefully we’ll be able to serve king salmon caught by them Saturday evening. So for that, we wish the Hand’s a safe and prosperous day on the ocean.

I’m really excited this year to share as much info as I can with you. Keep checking in with social media. And make your reservations. This fish goes fast!

Stephen Hauch, Executive Sous Chef

Large Group Dining at Ray’s Summer 2024

A quick note about large group dining at Ray’s as we approach graduation season and summer! Boathouse All of our availability for large groups in the Boathouse (10 guests max) is listed online at RESY. We recommend searching there for your desired date and time and if there are no tables available for your group size we unfortunately cannot accommodate your large party at …


Ray’s Boathouse elevates local, sustainable seafood with global flavors and Northwest inspiration nightly.


Classic seafood dishes with seasonal preparations in our upstairs Café overlooking Puget Sound.


Simply choose either Ray’s Boathouse or Ray’s Cafe in the first drop down, then find your table.


Book your Ray's Boathouse reservation on Resy
Book your Rays Cafe reservation on Resy