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Alaska 10: Fishing the Falls
Once you clear the Park Ranger, who limits the number of people who can stand on the viewing platform near the falls, you walk a short distance on an above ground walkway until you are there. The platform stands right next to the falls. The bear above is not more than 50 yards away.
Above and below the falls, the water is shallow enough for a grizzly to move around without swimming. Many of the bears are in groups of two or three, although the males are usually alone.
The salmon spawn which drew the bears here is beginning to peter out but we still see about a dozen bears in and around the falls. It is almost time to hibernate, so it is not surprising how big some of the bears are. At most, they only have a few weeks left to fatten up for the long nap.
The bears here are among the biggest grizzlies anywhere. The abundance of the salmon run makes them well fed. This big fellow is standing on the bears' favorite spot for fishing. While we watched them fish, they kept their eyes forward waiting for a salmon to jump while also attending to who might be approaching with a view toward taking over the spot.
This fellow is about to be challenged.
Lots of growling and teeth bearing, but we did not see any real fighting. The bears seem able to size one another up, and I do mean "size," with the smaller bear routinely giving way to the larger bear. Once things are settled, its back to the serious business of fishing for the victorious bear.
The trick is to stand where at the top of the falls where the fish jump. Then it is a question of timing. When it works the fish is plucked out of the air into the bear's open jaw.
The female below just scored a catch.
Soon the serious work of consumption begins, just to the left of the fishing spot at the top of the falls.
It does not take long for a cub to arrive from below the falls. This is a small one, probably not more than a year or two old.
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Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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