Bait Not Allowed For Ninilchik River Fishing

The following is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

No Bait in the Ninilchik River

(Homer) – Consistent with the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River king salmon sport fishery management plan, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is prohibiting the use of bait and restricting gear to single-hook artificial lure on the Ninilchik River in the lower 2 river miles from June 21 through July 15. The intention of this restriction is an effort to achieve the Ninilchik River sustainable escapement goal (SEG) and broodstock collection goals while maintaining sport fishing opportunities for hatchery king salmon. Sport fishing in the Ninilchik River is open 7 days/week through October 31 and remains open to king salmon fishing through July 15. All other Ninilchik River king salmon fishing regulations remain in effect through July 15, including: naturally-produced king salmon may not be retained, must be released immediately, and may not be removed from the water; the hatchery king salmon bag limit for fish 20” and greater is two per day and two in possession; the limits for hatchery king salmon less than 20” is 10 per day and 10 in possession; and after harvesting two hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length, anglers may not sport fish in the Ninilchik River for the rest of that day.

The Ninilchik River sustainable escapement goal (SEG) was updated in 2023 to 900–1,600 king salmon. As of June 18, 363 king salmon have been counted on the Ninilchik River, which should be approximately 40% of the total run. Based on the recent 3-year run timing, the Ninilchik River naturally-produced king salmon run is projecting approximately 875 fish which is below the SEG range. An additional 50–100 naturally-produced fish are needed to achieve the broodstock collection goal for achieving the 2025 stocking goal for the Ninilchik River. As of June 17, 407 hatchery king salmon have been counted and the run is projected to 1,100 to 1,500 fish, which will provide harvest opportunities for the remainder of the season.

The Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River king salmon sport fishery management plan (5 AAC 56.130) was adopted at the November 2023 Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting. This management plan specifies that the commissioner may, by emergency order, further restrict the Ninilchik River hatchery king salmon sport fishery to achieve the SEG and broodstock collection goals. Removing the use of bait will reduce the catch and catch-and-release mortality of naturally-produced king salmon when fishing for hatchery king salmon. In conjunction with these regulation changes, Emergency Order 2-KS-1-25-24 restricts the use of bait in the Kasilof River from June 21 through July 31. Please review this emergency order and advisory announcement in its entirety for the specific regulatory changes.

“This restriction will improve the likelihood of making the escapement and broodstock collection goals while still providing sport fishing opportunity and reducing the number of hatchery king salmon in the escapement,” stated Area Management Biologist Mike Booz. “The hatchery component of the king salmon run should continue to build and be available to harvest for the next two weeks.”

For additional information, please contact Area Management Biologist Mike Booz or Assistant Area Management Biologist Holly Dickson at (907) 235-8191.