Can You Run into Bears While Fishing for Salmon in Alaska?

Grisly encounters—pun intended—are very much a possibility in a place that’s literally called Bear Country.

As for actually having an encounter with a bear, we can’t possibly imagine the state you’d be in (you’d be in the state of Alaska, but surely you get what we’re saying). But jokes aside, can you really run into a bear when you’re out fishing in Alaska?

Will Bears Turn Up in Alaska?

98% of the entire US bear population—and 70% of the entire North American bear population—is in Alaska. So what do you think are the chances? Yes, the Bear and the Maiden Fair could really play out in this remote northern state, but you can predict (for the most part) it before it happens. For instance, bear tracks, dung, half-eaten carcasses are all tell-tale signs that a bear is lurking by.

Remember that a flailing fish will always attract bears. Keep yours in a basket or a cooler as soon as it comes out so as to avoid that from happening. Also, remember to clean up after yourself—throw any remaining fish parts back into the river—so as to not give the bears a chance to disturb fishermen who come after you.  

If a bear sees you with fish parts, it might want to grab them. It may even begin to associate men with food, and that’s a bad idea.

What NOT to Do When You See a Bear While Fishing

 an Alaskan bear


Remember that story about two friends who saw a bear; one of them played dead, and the other climbed a tree? The bear nudged the fake dead body and saw that the other one was up in a tree and left them both?

Yeah, don’t do that because bears don’t leave you if you play dead.

You might not know this (unless you watch a lot of National Geographic in your basement), but predatory bears don’t just whip out of thin air. They have probably been stalking you, and if you suddenly drop down when you see one, they will see through it. What you’ve done now is presented yourself as a nice yummy snack, and you’re pretty much dead at this point.

Moreover, if you think climbing a tree will help you—well, say your final words because it won’t. Bears are AMAZING at climbing trees—even the biggest of them. Watch them do it with the utmost ease here.

What You SHOULD Do When You See a Bear While Fishing

So the one and only thing you should do is this: keep your distance. Don’t make any jerky movements, don’t threaten them, and don’t invade their space. Bears don’t usually attack men unless you try to steal their babies. Don’t steal their (or anyone’s) babies. Chances are, they will leave.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also suggests you flail your hands and try to make light conversation with them. You can perhaps engage them in a detailed discussion about the nutritional benefits of salmon eggs or something.

If you think our Ursidae jokes are a little too much, bear with us.

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