If you fish in Alaska during the salmon runs, you are most likely going to see bears. Whether you are in a remote location or fishing the Kenai River, where the population of people is rather large during the salmon season, you may see a bear or multiple bears. The question I get asked most about the bears, “Are you afraid of the bears?” The answer is…No, I am not afraid.
I know what you are thinking, “that was a very confident answer!” I am not afraid of the bears being around during salmon fishing season, but I do respect them and their space. We also go prepared with bear spray and guns.
The first time we went to Alaska, we were in Soldotna to fish the Kenai River and other rivers in that area. I have to admit, I was fearful of seeing a bear. I was not familiar with their habits and did not know what to expect. We did not see a bear while fishing in the Kenai; however, we did see a bear along the road and heard bears while hiking the Russian River Boardwalk on our way to fish. Was I afraid at this time? YES!
Since that first trip, we have had many trips to Alaska in the remote wilderness, raftting, sleeping in tents, and in lodges. We see bears all the time and actually look forward to seeing them.
I have had one close encounter, which I think about often and it reminds me to be prepared. We were fishing on Kodiak Island in the Roslyn Creek, just below the bridge. Greg and I were fishing together in water that was chest high. There were so many salmon in the river I couldn’t count them all. It was very exciting and I wanted to catch one. Greg caught a salmon and brought it to shore. He pulled the gills and headed for the car. We didn’t want the bears to smell the blood or fish. I stayed in the water on my own in this heavliy wooded area. I was not able to catch a salmon even though I was so determined.
I was feeling a little uneasy, so I got out of the water and hiked up to the road. An Alaska State Trooper was there and asked to see our licenses. As we were talking to the Trooper, a big Kodiak Brown Bear came out of the woods looking for that fish. The Trooper put his hand on his gun and asked us to head back to our car. He stated “That bear has been around all season and the last person to come in contact with him had to shoot towards him for him to leave.” I think someone was looking out for me that day. I think back, “what would I have done?” if I was still in the water.
I am still not afraid to fish with the bears, but I am a little more careful these days. The first thing we do when we arrive at our Alaska fishing location is purchase a couple cans of bear spray. It’s the one thing we purchase on our trip that I hope I never have to use.
We have had some amazing experiences fishing with the bears. I highly recommend you plan a trip to see the bears or fish with them when you are in Alaska. We like to use Talon Air Service in Soldotna for a flyout trip to Wolverine Creek to get close to the bears, see them fish, and have a chance to fish with them.
We went on a seven-day rafting trip out of King Salmon, Alaska in the Katmai National Wildlife Preserve. Bears, bears, everywhere! We rafted and camped in tents with the bears in the water and on the shore all around us. We kept our food in bear proof cans and kept the camp clean. They did not bother us, but sometimes they came uncomfortably close to where we were fishing.
Greg and I now spend alot of our Alsaka fishing trips on Kodiak Island. The bears out-populate the humans and we see bears everytime we go there. They are amazing to watch. They all have their own way of catching fish, We know the bears are there, we respect them and prepare for them.