Ninilchik, meaning “peaceful settlement by the river ” was our next stop on the Kenai Peninsula. This town has a rich Russian influence dating back to the early 19th century. A Russian Orthodox Church was built in 1901, and the historic cemetery on the hill continues to overlook the rustic village of Ninilchik. This is also a town from which world-class Halibut and Salmon fishing charters are launched to the Cook Inlet.
Old Ninilchik Village
Russian Church and cemetery
We had a lot of excitement and action during our four-day stay here, and we just loved this little town.
First off, I caught a fish – not just any fish – a HALIBUT! Yes I did! I hopped aboard one of the charters and went with a group of six for some serious ocean fishing. My first scheduled outing was canceled due to 50-knot winds and 4-foot waves, but I managed to get on a trip leaving the next morning. Unfortunately, I had to shell out an extra $20 to get another 24-hour fishing license. Steve decided to stay home and defrost the freezer to prepare for arrival of the bounty.
Some of my fishing buddies, Sarah and Nazly
Launching of the fishing boats is a choreographed dance of tractors and boats – in goes one boat and out comes another in a matter of seconds.
Tractor launching boats
It was raining hard as we sped off several miles into the open ocean. The excitement built as our bait was grabbed by the Halibut. The hard work began once the fish was hooked and I had to reel it up some 250 feet from the ocean floor. Halibut are bottom feeders, so a 5 lb. sinker is attached to the end of the line. I had to reel that in, plus the weight of the bait, plus a 30 lb. fish. To say it was extremely tiring is an understatement.
I had to take rests during my reeling, as my arms tired and took much of my energy and effort – and the rain was relentless. The good thing was that Sarah and Nazly cheered me on and helped reel when I needed a break. I was warned that it would be hard work, but I didn’t know how hard until I caught my first Halibut. And the worst part is that I had to let go of the first three I caught, as they were too small according to the skipper.
I also caught a black cod which had to be released as well. I think I reeled in six but got to keep only two, per regulations. I was totally exhausted – what day!
The hard-working fisherman and women, Nazly, Mark and Sarah
We were soaking wet and cold after our six hours on the ocean, but we were very happy with the catch – check it out!
Our catch of the day
And after filleting it for us, this is what I got to take home, almost 20 lbs. of Halibut fillets. Woo hoo! But I won’t ever go fishing for them again.
We’ll be eating this tasty Halibut for the rest of our trip!
One of the most popular activities in Ninilchik is digging for Razor clams. It turned out that the following day was a monthly “minus tide”, and the beach in Ninilchik was exposed for hundreds of feet down to the waterline. Perfect for digging for Razor clams. Steve went out with fellow RV’er Jacob to learn how it’s done. They caught a lot of clams, and only came home when the tide chased them back.
It’s worth getting muddy for these excellent Razor clams
Alaskan Razor Clams
Steve is excited that he found several clams during their trek
The clammers bringing back the catch of the day.
We all agreed to trading Razor clams for Halibut. Hey, what a deal – we didn’t have to dig up or clean the clams, and although it was my hard-earned Halibut that we had to give away, we were looking forward to trying the clams.
Here are the 26 clams Jacob and Steve harvested and bartered with our halibut, about 3.5 pounds. It was painful to give up the halibut, but the clams are awesome raw with wasabe and soy sauce, fried, or in clam chowder.
Clam stew is what’s for dinner
I want to give a shout out to Roadlife for her Clam Stew recipe. What a wonderful dinner we had that night!