The red-hot Copper River

We've seen three 12-hour openers so far at the Copper River, and gillnetters sure have made the most of their time.

The sockeye catch has been killer, totaling an estimated 627,000 fish.

In fact, we're off to an even hotter start than last year, when the first three openers produced a combined 451,937 sockeye. The 2011 season went on to an excellent finish of more than 2 million fish.

The situation with Chinook salmon isn't so exciting. The tally thus far is an estimated 3,300 fish, compared to 5,528 taken during the first three openers last season.

The Copper River District will open at 7 a.m. Monday for a 36-hour period.