I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for bears for years, especially brown bears. This probably comes from stories I heard about the years my family spent living in Kodiak, Alaska while my Dad was stationed there with the Navy after World War II. That happened well before I was born, so I only heard stories and saw pictures of these giant bears.
I finally got a chance to visit Kodiak in 2005, and see this amazing island and its bears. I made this photo during a fly-out to Frazer Lake on the island where we did some salmon fishing in Dog Salmon Creek, the main outflow from the lake. It was amazing, and maybe a bit scary to be standing hip-deep in the creek with red salmon bouncing off your legs, while bears came down to the other bank of the creek to fish. Taking our cue from our guide, we remained calm and watched these magnificent creatures try to catch lunch. They seemed to have no interest in us, but when it came time to clean our catch and leave, our guide instructed us to all keep a sharp watch for any bears moving into the area. It is when the fish come out of the water for cleaning that the bears’ interest level goes way up.
We first saw this bear, an older male, up near the fish ladder at the head of the creek that allows the salmon to climb back up to the lake. He eventually showed up downstream where we were fishing, and took a few minutes to try his paws at fishing. The power of these animals became completely clear as we watched them plunge into the water and run up or down stream with no noticeable effort. It was a good thing they weren’t interested in us.
While some may think we were crazy, I still hope to return to Kodiak to see the bears again.
I made today’s photo using my Canon EF100-400 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens zoomed 300 mm on my Canon 10D. Exposure was set to 1/750 sec. at f/9.5 and ISO 400.