The Ninilchik River is located south of Clam Gulch and North of Anchor Point in the town of Ninilchik. The area where the Ninilchik River flows into Cook Inlet is known for clam digging on low tides (when regulations allow), and even catching halibut directly from the beach surfcasting. The Ninilchik River has several runs of salmon including king salmon, sockeye salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden, and rainbow trout.
Want to know more about fish counts on the Kenai River and throughout Alaska? Download the Alaska FishTopia Mobile App. All graphs and information presented on these pages are courtesy of Alaska FishTopia!
Click To Download!
Ninilchik River King Salmon Fish Counts
The Ninilchik is a shallow, clear water stream well known for its king salmon fishing. The Ninilchik River area is very popular due to its easy road access, nice campground facilities, clamming, surfcasting for halibut, and for the summer migratory runs of Salmon. The Ninilchik River is quite small and therefore its salmon run is carefully managed. The Ninilchik River is only open to king salmon fishing on select days each year so it’s important to review the regulations for that particular year.
Ninilchik River King Salmon Fish Counts - Daily Fish Counts
The Ninilchik River is one of the most popular king salmon fisheries on the lower Kenai Peninsula. Chinook salmon are monitored with a weir located approximately 4 miles upstream from the mouth of the Ninilchik River. The weir is monitored from mid-May to early August.
Since 1987, hatchery-reared king salmon have been stocked in the River to support this sport fishery. So the Ninilchik River has a return of both wild king salmon and hatchery king salmon. Hatchery-reared Chinook salmon are distinguished from the wild by the absence of the adipose fin.
The typical peak day for the Ninilchik River king salmon run is July 5th. It’s important to keep in mind that this date can move around a few days in either direction. Also, while the peak 3 year average for this return is around 175 king salmon the peak number for any individual year can be much greater than this. In 2020, for example, on July 6th, 554 king salmon returned in a single day.
Ninilchik River King Salmon Escapements
The Ninilchik River king salmon run is comprised of both wild run king salmon and hatchery king salmon. The goal is enhancement and the hatchery attempts to spawn 140 pairs of Ninilchik River king salmon with 60 wild run king salmon.
The minimum targeted escapement goal is 750 Ninilchik River king salmon returning each and this goal is typically achieved on July 3rd each year. The maximum escapement goal is targeted at twice this number, 1300 returning Ninilchik River king salmon. The maximum escapement goal is typically achieved on July 13th each year.
Personal limits are usually 1 king salmon per person per day, over 20″, and the angler is required to stop fishing on the Ninilchik River, Anchor River, and Deep Creek for the remainder of that day. It’s important to review all sportfishing regulations and emergency orders before fishing.
Ninilchik River King Salmon Weir Location
Chinook salmon escapement is monitored at a broodstock weir located approximately 4 miles upstream of the mouth from mid-May through early August. Since 1987, hatchery-reared Chinook salmon have been stocked in the Ninilchik River to support the Chinook salmon sport fishery.
Fishing is limited to the lower two miles of the river although most anglers fish well below this 2-mile restriction. Most of the sportfishing will be done near the mouth of the river.
Keep in mind that the weir is located at river mile 4 but fishing is restricted to the first 2 miles of fishing from the mouth. So, sport fishing ends approximately 2 miles downstream of the weir. Please make sure to consult the regulations book to understand the open fishing areas.
Ninilchik River King Salmon Fish Counts - 2020
As mentioned before on average the Ninilchik River king salmon fish counts will average around 175 fish on the peak day which is usually around July 5. Averaging multiple years together has a tendency of smoothing out large peaks and valleys and so it’s interesting to take a moment and exam a single year by itself.
If you look at the Ninilchik River king salmon run for 2020 you can see just how big the swings are from day to day. Ranging anywhere from 100 one day to 0 the next. By examining each year by itself we can see just how big a single day on the Ninilchik River can actually be. July 5, 2020, was a very big year and 554 king salmon were counted coming up that river in a single day.
You never know what any particular day is going to do but if you can be there on the day or two each year when this happens, you’ll have a day of fishing you’ll never forget.
Kenai Peninsula Fish Counts
Want to know more about the fish counts on the Kenai Peninsula? Follow the links below to learn about the fish counts and when to fish all of the Kenai Peninsula’s major rivers and salmon species. Kenai River King Salmon (early run / late run), Kenai River Sockeye Run, Russian River Sockeye (early-late), Anchor River Chinook, Ninilchik River Chinook, Deep Creek Chinook