Perhaps it’s one of the most iconic and often feared animals in Alaska. Coastal brown bears earn their rightfully nostalgic place in Bristol Bay amongst fly anglers. The first close encounter with a bear is never forgotten. Never. Their cavalier attitudes project a regal presence that will leave you either in awe, or in complete consternation. In other words, it’s a game changer for life.
I will never forget my first real encounter with a mature male brown bear. My first season guiding in Alaska. It was my first fly out to a small creek stuffed full of sockeye and giant rainbow trout. There were bears, lots of them. I had no experience with them on foot in a creek small enough to spit across. As the pilot turned to give me a look at the creek, all I could focus on were the bears. There were just so many. I had no idea how I was going to get my day in. Fortunately, I was under the tutelage of someone with more days in bear country in Alaska than I had guiding in my whole career. That day, I learned more about bears than most people learn in a lifetime.
That day, I learned how to read body language and general behavioral displays. I learned what was safe and most importantly, what was not safe. I was taught how to avoid allowing myself to get into sketchy scenarios just because fishing was good. It was an invaluable day of Alaska guide education that I could never repay and I learned it without the use of firearms. As a rookie guide I wasn’t even permitted to carry bear spray, much less a gun. The senior guides and lodge owner didn’t want me doing something incredibly stupid or unnecessary out of fear and misunderstanding.
Fast forward to over a decade later, Rapids Camp Lodge uses the same bear safety practices I learned back then. Of course, we have added a few updated protocols to it. I could ramble on and on about various situations and the proper handling thereof. However, the very most important factor is for you to trust your guide and do exactly what he/she asks you to do. Simple as that. We literally live with bears everyday. We are all too familiar with them, their habits and their quirky personalities. Let us do our jobs and you will leave with an Alaska experience like you never dreamed possible.
Thanks for reading!
Head Guide Rapids Camp Lodge
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