Katmai National Park: Bear Fishing Strategies

Brooks Falls brown bear

 

The brown bears of Katmai National Park like their fish fresh, juicy, and in large volumes.  The biggest males eat between 80-90 pounds of food every day, and much of it is in the form of salmon.

So obviously these bears are experts at what they do—catching fish.  They start young, learning fishing techniques from mom, and then branch out from there.   Some bears have successfully learned a variety of methods, while others employ one or two that work for them.  Here’s a look the fishing styles that we observed at Brooks Camp.

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Katmai National Park: Alaska’s coastal brown bears

 

Bear 410 (“Four Ton”) doing what she does best—sleep

At first glance, bears may seem, well, lazy.  They eat, they sleep, they play…and that’s about it.  It’s quite a lifestyle they enjoy.

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Katmai National Park: About Brooks Camp

Brooks Falls

Alaska’s Katmai National Park is an immense, wild place, and there is much to see here, but most of it is undeveloped and challenging to get to.  That’s why the destination for most people is Brooks Camp, a little bit of infrastructure and comfort in all that wilderness.  The camp, which consists of a lodge, campground, and other facilities, is the most accessible part of Katmai, but “accessible” is a relative term.  Even a place as established as Brooks Camp takes effort to reach, and here’s some of what we learned as we planned our trip.

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Trapped in a bathroom: The Katmai bear experience

Photo of Bear 708 and cubs, taken from the bathroom

 

While staying at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park, Alaska, we ate breakfast every morning in the lodge, and it was here, just outside of the dining room, that we had one of our more memorable bear encounters.  Perhaps my favorite story from our trip, it precisely captures the wonderful chaos that is a visit to Brooks Camp.

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Barrow (Utqiaġvik), Alaska: How to get there, when to go, and other travel tips

Barrow, Alaska from the plane

The first leg of our trip to Utqiaġvik was a 100-minute flight to the oil town of Deadhorse.  Barely a dot on the map, Deadhorse is one of three cities above the Arctic Circle to which Alaska Airlines flies, the other two being Kotzebue and Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow).

We celebrated when we landed; we’d left Anchorage at 7:39 that Saturday morning, and now, not even 2 hours later, we were above the Arctic Circle!  The plane sat on the runway for a few minutes, allowing us time to revel in this knowledge.  A few people disembarked the plane and others got on; then the pilot made his usual pre-flight announcements, saying that we were “number one for take off.”  This made us laugh—we were the only commercial plane in the airport.  It wasn’t long before we were back in the air, and Utqiaġvik was just a short flight northwest along the coastline.

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