YOUR DESTINATION: NINILCHIK!
For decades, the little village of Ninilchik and surrounding area has been one of the most centrally located, historically rich, and resource spectacular destinations in the entire State of Alaska! Ninilchik’s De’ naina/Russian/ Aleut heritage and breathtaking scenery are rivaled only by its outdoor recreation opportunities and bountiful fish and wildlife resources. Ninilchik’s Deep Creek Marine Fishery is considered by many to be the best halibut and salmon fishing locations in the state. Four hundred pound halibut have been taken just off shore and some king salmon from the “second run” in July have exceeded 85 pounds. Halibut are plentiful all summer and two spawning runs of king salmon in addition to “feeder kings” make king salmon available just offshore almost all summer. If freshwater fishing is what you are looking for, Ninilchik is bounded on the north by the Ninilchik River and on the south by Deep Creek. Both are famous world class clearwater fishing streams. Both have king salmon, steelhead, silver salmon, pink salmon and Dolly varden. Although sockeye (red) salmon do not typically spawn in either of these two rivers, they are seasonally abundant in the lower stretches of both streams. In the salt waters, just offshore and easily accessible by private and charter vessels, all five species of salmon can be caught along with Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, salmon sharks, flounder, skates, and pollock.
Several state campgrounds in the area make camping easy and provide boat ramps for small boats. Marine Services LLC, a State vendor boat launching service on the Deep Creek beach just south of town, is one of the most unique, famous, and most written about boat launching facilities in the U.S. If you are not familiar with the area and want to launch your boat from the beach, Marine Services LLC is your ticket to fast and safe boat launch and retrieval. Many fishing charter services are also available from Ninilchik with skippers who have many years of experience on Cook Inlet waters. Many of these companies are members of the Deep Creek Charterboat Assoc. and can be found via a link on this site.
In addition to sport fishing, Ninilchik has a rich history in commercial fisheries and an ongoing commercial fishing fleet whose activities are worth your time to see. Primarily salmon drift gillnetters, salmon set gillnetters, and halibut longliners use Ninilchik as their homeport and reap the bountiful resources of Cook Inlet. The drift gillnet boats can be seen entering and leaving the tiny harbor in Ninilchik during “openers”, set gill netters can be seen picking their fish from skiffs marked by red buoys just offshore, and the bright mercury lights of the tenders can be seen anchored in close proximity to the harbor so they can buy their fish.
The Kenai Peninsula is well known worldwide for its healthy moose populations and hunting potential. Ninilchik lies within Alaska game management subunit 15C and with current regulations moose populations remain healthy. Moose hunting is done primarily on State, Native and Federal Refuge lands. Moose hunting begins in early August, depending upon methods and means, and closes to sport hunting on 20 September. Subsistence and educational hunts sometimes go late into the winter. Unit 15C currently has an antler regulation based on size and number of brow tines. Be sure to check current regulations as they change yearly.
Brown and black bear are relatively abundant in the Ninilchik area. Black bear seasons and bag limits are very liberal. Brown bear are frequently encountered by moose hunters in the fall. For bird hunters, ptarmigan can be found in the Caribou Hills east of Ninilchik during the winter months. Spruce grouse are abundant throughout spruce, aspen and birch forests in the area. Most spruce grouse hunting takes place in the fall beginning in early August and until the first snow fall. Hares can be extremely abundant when high in their natural cycles. During off years they can be extremely hard to find. The last cycle high was in 2013 and hares roughly fluctuate to a 10 year cycle. A small game non resident hunting license currently costs only $25.