We’ve all heard the expression – “The One that got away”, well sometimes all you need is a little patience and determination.
There are numerous fishing styles that bears perform, often these are learned behaviours. Many bears use the same techniques as their mother, whilst others learn on their own. Some bears have mastered many styles while other bears stick with the one that works best for them.
Here are some of the varied styles and techniques:
Stand and Wait: Bears will stand on top of Brooks Falls and wait for sockeye salmon to jump close enough to catch in their mouths. This fishing technique is generally used by adult bears that can defend their fishing spot, but is also used by some younger bears when space is available. This is a good technique to use when the salmon are jumping.
Sit and Wait: At Brooks Falls, bears will sit just underneath the falls in several places, like the plunge pool or “Jacuzzi “and wait for the salmon to swim to them. When they feel a fish in the water, they quickly pin it to the stream bottom or against their body with their paws, bite it and start feasting.
Dash and Grab: Bears often chase fish and attempt to pin them to the river bottom with their paws. This is commonly used early in the salmon run, but because the technique is energetically costly it is quickly abandoned when the salmon run begins to thin.
Snorkel: Some bears snorkel by simply looking for fish under the water. The technique is used almost universally by bears throughout the summer, but is especially common and useful in the fall when many dead and dying salmon are in the water systems.
Begging and stealing: Bears do not share food with other bears, but some will still attempt to beg from others. This interaction occurs between bears that are highly tolerant of each other. Begging bears approach another (usually more dominant) bear eating fish and position themselves inches away from the other bear. Begging bears often vocalize loudly, making noises similar to a bawling cub. This is not a common behaviour but often leads to stealing.
Diving: This is a fishing technique that most bears do not use. However at the mouth of rivers systems you may witness bears completely submerging to seek fish.
Pounce: This fishing technique is self-explanatory. Pouncing on unsuspecting targets.
The rewards are endless with patience and determination. The salmon rich streams are a glorious treat for the bears.
To watch bears fish is incredibly entertaining and thrilling. It is often comical, sometimes frustrating and always rewarding when the prize is captured.
It is sad for the Salmon that are caught whilst endeavouring to journey up stream to spawn, however the salmon have such a vital role in the ecosystem and they have not died in vain.
Studies have shown that Spruce trees on river systems that contain salmon and fishing bears, can grow 3 times larger than river systems without bears. This is due to the nitrogen from salmon carcasses that are dispersed throughout the forest by bears that have fished and bought their catch ashore.
I love how all of nature works together as a team, everything has a flow on effect.
Triumphant and jubilant the bears feast on their spoils. Some have mastered the skill so effectively, whilst others are a little more cumbersome and clumsy.