Fishing with Bears

Just as the title suggests. I’m watching a PBS show called Chefs A’ Field and there are a bunch of guys fishing in Alaska at a remote location. There are bears all around them (brown and black). The bears come within feet of the boats and there are cubs involved. To make the image complete, the fisherman are pulling in the bears favorite food (salmon) and dangling the object of their desire just in front of the boat.

I’m going with tax-funded stupid-human tricks. What say you?

I thought this thread was going to be about someone training bears to catch fish - you know, like they do with cormorants in China…

Sooner or later, the bears are going to wonder what the humans in the boat taste like - and I don’t think they’ll sit in introspection too long.

Fishing? Im in!

I thought you were talking about one of my favorite commercials


Idiots. Speaking as someone who’s gone fishing in bear country often, and who was once in charge of giving bear safety certification training to USFS summer interns (who were almost-universally from urban areas a minimum of 500 miles from the closest non-captive bear), those guys are asking for trouble. Brown bears in particular are often very, very aggressive (assuming the bears on the show are actually brown bears as opposed to brown-colored black bears), more so when cubs are involved. Granted, during a salmon run the bears typically have enough food around to be considerably less likely to take a run at humans (and also less aggressive on average), but it’s still a phenomenally poor idea. That is not a safe area for experimentation, if you see what I mean.

Of course, the apparent nearness of the bears might be a legacy of creative photography or some such thing.

“Fishing with bears?” It’s a terrible idea.
Bears make for awful bait. :wink:

What, you never heard of bearbaiting?

But that only works with dogfish! Not salmon.

Thanks for the link, samclem. Haven’t seen that in years and it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

As others have already said, fishing with bears is just a bad idea. They have no knack whatsoever for proper line casting. It’s truly painful to watch.

Been there, done that. (and survived !)

Kodiak Island, so the brown bears where “Kodiak” bears no less.

We were fishing along the banks of this river that was fed from a lake that led to the spawning grounds. Because of the waterfall coming from the lake, the Fish and Game had built a fish ladder to help the salmon get up to the lake. At the bottom of the ladder was this large pool where the salmon would congregate before they figured out where the entrance to the ladder was. It was the closest the bears had to “fish in a barrel”. We spent hours at this overlook watching the bears fish each day (better than TV !).

You weren’t allowed to fish within 100 yds of the pool, so we would hike down stream to fish. The bears would either take their usual routes around us to the pool, or wade upstream right in front of us on their way to the pool. Some would fish along the way, but most headed to the pool for the easier picking.
Yes, your heart would stop each time one would come by. We’d go through our drill and make sure the bear was aware of our presence. At most we’d get a quick glance, and then they’d move on. After a while, we realized 1) they were far more interested in the fish, and 2) could really give a crap about us.
The most stressful part was hiking back to camp with our catch. You’d be waving (prize) smelly snacks about as you made your way around blind corners and stuff. So that part wasn’t too fun.

Our scariest encounter was when these two cubs (approx. 3 year olds) decided to check us out. They were still too young to fish (or too scared), so they let mom do all the work. They were heading back to wherever, when the cubs saw us, and veered off the path. The thought of the cubs was not as scary as the thought of a pissed off mom thinking we might be a threat to her cubs. So along with the normal drill, we also huddled together and started to consider jumping into the river as a means of escape (the cubs were still somewhat afraid of the water, it seemed. We’d seen this family a number of times before). As things got hairier, the mom suddenly noticed her cubs not following her, and she went after them. It was almost comical - it was like we could see the cartoon-like “thought bubble” over her saying “what are those idiots up to now ??? !!!” Once she got to them, the cubs quickly swung around and fell back in line following her.

We went back to camp…and changed our pants :wink:

Which is probably why so many bears flout the law and fish with eggs on a bottom-weighted drift line. And as soon as they figure out how to keep their claws from catching on the loops, they’ll start tossing gillnets too. Fucking bears.

That’s probably a worse idea than fishing with bears.

Unless it’s for compliments. After a couple of Scotches, bears actually can be quite charitable.