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What is the daily bag limit for halibut? I heard the commercial fishermen took your fish and the limit is now one fish per day?
In our area the daily bag limit for halibut is still two fish per person, per day. One of the two fish must be 29 inches or less. Southeast Alaska fishing area 2C (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, etc.) is now one fish per day.
How much are fishing licenses? Do you sell them at your offices?
Non-resident licenses are:
1-Day: $20.00 ~ 3-Day: $35.00 ~ 1 Week: $55.00 ~ 2 Weeks: $80.00
Entire Year: $145.00
A special King Salmon stamp is required on days fishing for Kings, in addition to the above rates:
1-Day: $10.00 ~ 3-Day: $20.00 ~ 1 Week: $30.00 ~ 2 Weeks: $50.00
Entire Year: $100.00
We sell all of the above at our offices.
When is the best time of year or time of month to fish?
It depends on what you want to fish for. Luckily, halibut is available throughout the summer. The only difference for halibut is the cycle of the tide. During clamming tides the tidewater moves very swiftly and we must use heavy weights to get the bait to the bottom where the fish are. That means more work – not necessarily worse fishing or smaller fish – just more work. Therefore, for halibut it is best to choose a day when the tide is a small one, if your schedule will allow.
Since salmon spawn and then die, there are definite windows of opportunity for each species. Use the following as a guide to planning the timing of your trip around your desired species of salmon:
King Salmon (first run): fish about 30 pounds start in saltwater May 1 and last there until mid-June. Start into rivers third week of May and last until end of June. More fish than second run, but smaller. Generally better in the Kasilof River where the limit is two fish per person, per day.
King Salmon (second run): fish 50 to 90 pounds. Either in Kasilof River or Kenai River (one first per person, per day), starts July 1 and ends July 31. Huge fish but not as many total fish as in the first run.
Red Salmon (first run): Kenai and Kasilof River generally about the third week in June, not as many fish as second run of reds.
Red Salmon (second run): Kenai River, huge run generally centered in third week of July.
Silver Salmon: starts in Seward mid-July and lasts until Labor Day, in Kasilof and Kenai Rivers in August and September.
Which is better: morning or afternoon halibut trips?
There is no statistical difference between morning and afternoon trips, or between high and low tides.
What is the best city to fly into? What type of transportation do I need?
Anchorage is the proper city to fly into. You would need to be able to drive a rental car from Anchorage to get to any of the fishing places, as the country is vast and remote and no public transportation is available. Our particular area is about 3 1/2 hours by car from Anchorage, and the trip is spectacular, with many places to stop for photos and enjoy scenery along the way. You can fly into Kenai, which is closer to us, but the additional flight leg is expensive and the rental costs more.
Can you pick us up at the airport or is there public bus transportation to your Ninilchik location?
We are not able to provide transportation from the airports and there is no reliable public transportation to Ninilchik.
What fishing gear is provided with your packages?
If you arrange a package (multi-day) fishing vacation with us, you will likely spend some days paying for a charter trip and some days fishing on your own, usually from the local riverbanks. On days you pay to fish on a charter, all of your fishing gear, bait, etc., is provided and fish filleting is included. On days you fish on your own, we supply fishing rods and reels, and you are responsible for terminal tackle (and/or bait) and fish filleting, although our employees are usually able to help you if you approach them during business hours.
Do you rent fishing gear if we are not doing a multi-day package?
We do rent fishing rods, boots, waders, clam guns, clam shovels and clam buckets at our RV Park office.
What extra fees are not included in the packages?
There are some miscellaneous fees you can expect to pay above the price of the package vacation. Check your package quotes carefully. Unless otherwise negotiated, transportation, fishing licenses, fish processing fees, fish shipping charges, and gratuities (tips) are not included in the charter price. FEDEX shipping is available but is rather expensive, so we recommend you fly here with appropriate baggage to allow you to fly back with a fish box of frozen fish as part of your checked baggage.
Do I tip the boat crew?
Similar to going to a restaurant, a 15%-20% tip is customary and usually done at the end of the trip.
If you don't cook our meals for us, what do we do about food?
Our cabins have fully furnished kitchens which allow you to function as if you were at home, including cooking your own meals if you so desire. We have a general store in town where you can buy appropriate food items. However, it is cheaper to purchase groceries in Anchorage or Soldotna from the larger chain stores. If you don’t want to cook, or are just too tired after fishing, there are local restaurants (Alaskan small-town family-style businesses) that are within walking distance or a very short drive of less than a mile. Prices at these facilities are not as cheap as your local Burger King, but are not outrageous. The quality is quite good.
What is the difference in the size of fish caught at your location vs others? Where can I catch the biggest fish?
There is no statistical difference in the size of fish or number of fish caught from either Homer, Anchor Point, or Ninilchik. We are all accessing the broad school of fish feeding in the ecosystem of Cook Inlet. That ecosystem is the important part: the flushing of tidewater, the long flat gravel and sand bottom, the huge natural baitfish runs. The important thing to remember is the difference between Cook Inlet and the other area’s fish and ecosystems. Prince William Sound and Gulf Coast (Seward, Cordova, Valdez, etc.) don’t on average have the number and size of fish as Cook Inlet. There are daily differences, of course, but in general Cook Inlet is the accepted halibut fishing capital.
What is the difference in fishing trips from your location vs others? How does the act of fishing differ?
These are the major differences in the act of fishing:
Travel Time: Because of the differences in the starting points relative to the fishing grounds, the travel time from Ninilchik is much less than from Homer or Seward. Usually about 45 to 55 minutes compared to 2 to 3 hours.
In Ninilchik, we launch only at the prime time of the tide cycles, to coincide with the slack (no water movement) time of tide. This means we depart at different times of the day, depending on the cycle of the tide. We fish only when the tide is slowing or at a stop. At Homer and Seward, the boats leave the dock at the same time every day, regardless of the tide cycle.
The boats from Homer generally do not anchor. The boats from Ninilchik generally do. Bottom fishing from an anchored boat is a lot easier than from a drifting boat.
The boats from Homer are generally larger and hold more people than from Ninilchik. This is because the Ninilchik boats use a tractor launch service to launch from the beach. (Although we do have boats approved to hold more than 6 persons, we are the only one.) The boats from Ninilchik are generally faster than the boats from Homer.
Because of the combination of all of the above, the overall lengths of the trips are different. Homer and Seward trips are usually about 10 hours and the Ninilchik trips are about 7. The time spent fishing is about the same.
Can a nonfisherman "ride along"?
The issue of “ride along” is a common question in the industry. The Coast Guard only allows us a limited number of passengers per boat (6 or 8 in our case) and if we fill a seat with a nonpaying customer it takes the place of one who would have paid. In a business such as ours with only a very short season that is hard to absorb in the operation. We basically have to charge for the seat whether you fish or not. Our experience with folks who think they are not “fishermen” is that they usually have the best time catching because they are new to it. Generally this is an experience that all persons can truly enjoy.
Can you guarantee I'll be on a specific boat / crew?
For several reasons, we aren’t ever able to absolutely guarantee that your party will be on a specific boat or with a specific crew member. However, if you do have such a request, please make sure the reservation agent knows your specific desires and we will do everything we can to honor that request. We have an excellent record of “making it happen” and certainly want you to be on a boat or with a crew member you enjoy if we can possibly do it.
Are there restrooms on the boats?
All four ocean boats have complete marine head/toilets. Our river boats do not, but are able to land you at certain spots along the river for restroom breaks.
What special clothing will I need to go fishing?
You do not need any special clothing to go on any of our charter trips. We recommend wearing layers of clothing with an outer layer of rain proof or rain resistant jackets/pants. You do not have to have raingear but if you own some bring it with you. Wear footwear you don’t mind getting dirty. If you are from a particularly warm climate you should probably bring a warm cap and gloves. We do sell all of the above in our RV Park office if you forget to bring any with you.
Where can we get the fish processed after our catch? How much does it cost?
Filleting of the fish is part of the charter price. After filleting, we offer optional onsite processing including vacuum packing (presently 95 cents per pound, fillet weight), freezing (presently 25 cents per pound), insulated seafood shipping boxes (several sizes from $7 to $29) and FEDEX services.
How much does it cost to ship the fish home?
FEDEX charges are by custom quote and vary by the weight of the box and the distance. Presently, an average price would be about $4.50 per pound shipped. If you traveled to Alaska by airlines, we recommend you take the fish back home with you as airline baggage. Check with your airlines for extra baggage size, weight, charges, etc. It is usually cheaper than FEDEX. If you have cruised to Alaska or driven an RV, FEDEX is probably your best bet.
How long can you store frozen fish for us?
Due to huge quantities of fish we process, we can only store fish for about a week before shipping it. If you will not be home to receive the fish by that time, you will need to make arrangements for a family member, relative, friend, etc., to receive the fish and take care of it until you get home.
Can we buy fish to add to our catch to take home?
It is not legal to purchase sport-caught fish but it is legal to purchase fish caught commercially. Ninilchik has a commercial packing plant that does sell all types of Alaskan seafood that can be added to your processed fish for shipping.