brown bear in Alaska

Bear Safety in Bristol Bay: What to Do If You Encounter a Brown Bear

In About Alaskan Wildlife by Bear Trail Lodge

brown bear in Alaska

Depending on where you’ve fished before, you may or may not be accustomed to sharing the water with fishermen of a different species. When you book your Alaskan fishing trip at Bear Trail Lodge, prepare yourself for some up-close encounters with brown bears. As if the thrill of hooking a rainbow trout isn’t enough, imagine a mama bear lumbering toward you with a few cubs in tow. When we say that fishing in the Bristol Bay region is the experience of a lifetime, we mean it!

Knowing how to react when you see a brown bear and how to move about in an area they’re likely to inhabit is critical to the safety of your fishing group. Your fishing guide will coach you through how to respond to the presence of brown bears, but it’s also helpful to have some background knowledge going into your trip. Here are the “dos” and “don’ts” of interacting with these magnificent creatures so you can safely coexist with them on the river.

Bear Safety: What You Should Do

Make Your Presence Known

Unlike grizzly bears, Alaska’s brown bears rarely go out of their way to attack humans. However, they can react defensively if taken off-guard. For this reason, making your presence known helps reduce the likelihood of startling the bear and causing them to respond aggressively. When walking through areas with limited visibility due to bushes, trees, and other vegetation, use your voice to signal your presence to nearby bears. When you’re on the move, carrying on a conversation with your fishing mates or filling the silence with, “Heyyyyy bear. Heyyyy mama,” notifies a bear that you’re around –– even when they can’t see you and you can’t see them.

Give Them Space

If you see a brown bear on a trek, take note of its trajectory. If you’re standing in their line of walking, calmly move out of their way. Bears often travel the same paths repeatedly, and you might unknowingly be standing in their track. Giving them space allows them to continue on their way without feeling threatened or stressed.

Communicate with Your Guide

Our guides at Bear Trail Lodge have been trained and have extensive experience managing the presence of brown bears while fishing. If you notice a bear, calmly alert your guide in case they have not already seen the bear as well. Additionally, if a bear does happen to get a bit pushy during an encounter, follow your guide’s directions to deescalate the situation.

Bear Safety: What You Shouldn’t Do

Do Not Run

First and foremost, the key to bear safety is this: Do. Not. Run. Even if you encounter a bear and they seem agitated, running elicits a chase response. Instead, back away from the bear slowly. You cannot outrun a bear. If they follow you, calmly change directions again; you might unknowingly be walking along their path.

Do Not Yell

Although it’s important to use your voice to make your presence known, yelling at an unbothered bear provides little value. Furthermore, yelling at a bear may startle them and trigger a charge response. If a bear becomes aggressive and charges you, make yourself big and stand your ground.

Do Not Turn Your Back on the Bear

Bears are wild animals and are unpredictable, so it’s essential to keep tabs on them when they enter your vicinity. Especially on the flyout trips we offer at Bear Trail Lodge, you’re likely to encounter a bear while you’re fishing. After following the previously mentioned guidance, it’s generally safe to continue fishing. However, it’s critical that you relocate yourself to a position that allows you to face the bear or the direction you last saw it.

Follow These Bear Safety Tips for an Incredible Fishing Experience

Seeing brown bears in the wild is an exciting part of fishing in the Last Frontier. Rather than fear the possibility of an encounter, approach it as an opportunity to enhance your fishing experience. If you follow these dos and don’ts of bear safety and the instruction of your guide, fishing alongside these apex predators will likely be a highlight of your Alaskan fishing trip.

Bear Trail Lodge is a world-class fishing lodge in King Salmon, Alaska. Our all-inclusive packages range from 2-day to 7-day adventures. Depending on the type of fish you want to catch, we can recommend the perfect time of year for your visit. Schedule your Alaskan fly fishing trip at Bear Trail Lodge today!