Fishing Report: Youth-only king salmon fishing in Ninilchik

Fishing Report: Youth-only king salmon fishing in Ninilchik
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 8:08 AM AKDT
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NINILCHIK, Alaska (KTUU) - The beauty of fishing is that it can be enjoyed by all walks of life, no matter the age or experience — except for one day a year in Ninilchik where king salmon fishing is only available to the future fishermen and women of Alaska 15 years and younger.

Holly Dickson, a Lower Cook Inlet Assistant Area Management Biologist, said Kids Day in Ninichik is a big deal for various reasons.

“I think this is the eighth Kids Day we have had on the Ninilchik River and interest has been growing, we had quite a few kids and families show up early this morning, and success early this morning for sure,” Dickson said. “We love to see kids walking off the river with their parents or grandparents holding a king salmon — it doesn’t get much better than that.”

The kids are hooked on fishing and they have fish on the hook thanks in part to days like this initiated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who were on site with loaner rods if needed, Dickson says.

“This event provides an opportunity for kids to not be competing against skilled anglers on a small stream like this so we are happy to provide any event we can that gets a kid interested in fishing and maybe makes them a lifelong angler,” Dickson said.

Eleven-year-old Emerson Kelly-Stubbs has been taking advantage of this day since she was five, when she was the size of the king salmon she was catching.

“It is fun, the chase is fun, but it is sad when they get (off the hook) because you could have had it,” she said.

Although Emerson lives out-of-state during the winters, she returns home to Alaska each summer with fishing tales to tell her classmates when she returns.

“Seeing the nature, because I used to live here, so it is good seeing it here, and I live in Indiana now so it is like not as beautiful there sometimes with the fishing and stuff so just seeing the nature and moose and stuff that I don’t get to see regularly,” Kelly-Stubbs said. “Nobody really fishes in Indiana and we had to fish for school and I was the only one that really knew how to do it and they were like, ‘What? How’d you do that?’”

Experienced anglers have some competition coming their way with the amount of youth anglers catching fish early and often, but hopefully one day, they say they can pass on their knowledge to continue spawning Alaskan anglers for years to come.