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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Fishing with Bears

bear logo You are responsible for your own safety while fishing in bear country. Whether fishing, traveling to and from fishing waters, or camping, be aware of bears. Don''t make it easy for bears to find food, food containers, backpacks, garbage, fish, or fish waste.

While camping during your fishing trip, make sure to keep a clean camp and to properly store items that could possibly attract bears. Dispose of trash properly in Dumpsters or bear-resistant trash containers. If you are in a remote location, dispose of trash by burning it in a campfire and then dispersing the ashes, or by storing it in a packable bear resistant trash container. Always keep food and food containers secure in your vehicle, recreational vehicle, or in a bear resistant container. Do not store them in your tent. Keep other items such as bags, backpacks, etc. stored in your vehicle, recreational vehicle, or tent.

cutting fish

When you catch a fish you intend to harvest, immediately kill your fish, and then bleed it in the water by cutting or ripping the gill arches. Bleeding into the water quickly clears blood from the fish, thus improving its quality. It also reduces the chance that blood, which may attract the attention of bears, will get onto clothing or the stream bank.

If you are bank fishing and not near your home, your vehicle, or any facilities, keep your bled fish on a stringer and closely attended (within approximately 12 feet of you). Keeping fish on a stringer in the water keeps fish cool and better preserves meat quality. Do not leave fish exposed on the bank or in the woods out of view, as the meat quality will be affected, and the risk of attracting bears increases.

If you are fishing from a boat or have accessed a bank fishing area with a boat, closely attend your catch just as you do with your fishing rod, or secure fish in the boat. Try to stay within reasonable distance from your boat in case a bear approaches.

When done fishing for the day, anglers should clean their fish at designated fish-cleaning stations, or at home. If using a designated fish-cleaning station, anglers should chop the remains of their fish into many small pieces and throw these pieces and the entrails far out into deep, fast-moving water so they don''t wash back up onto shore. Do not leave entrails or other fish waste on the bank or in shallow water. Another option is to bag up fish waste and dispose of it at home.

If you clean your fish at home, place entrails and fish waste into the freezer until the morning of garbage day. Do not leave fish waste outside in garbage cans for multiple days, as bears will be attracted to the smell, even in town. A benefit of filleting at home is that it yields cleaner meat than filleting in the field.

Russian River - Special efforts are requested for the Russian River and Russian/Kenai confluence area:

Fish Waste Management
Anglers are asked to remove fish whole. If they prefer to fillet, they are asked to use tables that are provided at the confluence of the Kenai and Russian Rivers and at the ferry site. When filleting, anglers are asked to Stop, Chop, and Throw (cut filleted carcasses into numerous pieces before throwing into the fast-moving current). For more information, please contact Bobbie Jo Skibo, Russian River Interagency Management Coordinator, Seward Ranger District (907-288-7739).

Food Storage Regulation
A food storage order is in effect on USDA Forest Service lands and US Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters in the area which means that all attractants (for example, food, beverages and garbage) and equipment used to cook or store food must be acceptably stored (in a bear-resistant container, in your vehicle, or kept within 3 feet of you at all times).

Legally Retained Fish in Possession Regulation
Fish must be kept within 12 feet of you all at times unless acceptably stored to ensure that bears do not attain your fish.

For more information on how to live, travel, hunt and fish in bear country (most of Alaska), visit the Living with Bears webpage and State Parks website "Bears and You".

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