Brooks Falls: Bears Fishing

We journeyed to Brooks Falls to watch brown bears fish for salmon. We saw bears employ several techniques to fish: stand and wait, dash and grab, and snorkeling.

Stand and wait is the most common and what you usually see in photos. A bear stands at the top of the Falls and waits for a salmon to leap up the Falls. There are several variations. Shown above, a bear snaps at the leaping salmon.

Below, a bear uses its front paw to stop and hold a fish in order to bite it. Note that two other salmon are jumping at the same time, increasing the chances that some will get by the bear and make it to the spawning ground.

bear using its paw to help catch the salmon
bear using its paw to help catch the salmon (click to enlarge)

Occasionally, a bear stands in the river below the Falls, waiting for a fish to swim by. In the slideshow below, the salmon was very strong, flopping around and splashing in an effort to escape the bear’s grip. In the end, the bear broke the salmon’s back. See how the salmon’s body limply hangs down from the bear’s mouth, while the tail is horizontal.

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In the last photo, see the long claws of the brown bear; the long claws make it easier to catch fish. But brown bears can’t climb trees like black bears, which have shorter claws.

With dash and grab, the bear runs for a fish and grabs it.

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With snorkeling, the bear submerges its nose and eyes to look for fish, leaving its ears above water to listen for bigger bears.

snorkeling bear looking for fish
snorkeling bear looking for fish

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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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