Bear Safety for Anglers

brown bear with salmon 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.

Don't teach bears that anglers provide an easy meal!

Splashing fish attract bears.

  • If a bear is near enough to notice splashing — STOP FISHING!
  • If the bear approaches you while you have a fish on the line, give it slack or cut the line to eliminate splashing.

As soon as you catch a fish —

  • Immediately kill your fish, and then bleed it in the water by cutting or ripping the gill arches. Bleeding into the water improves the quality of the meat and reduces the chance that blood will get onto clothing or the stream bank, potentially attracting bears.
  • Store fish on ice in a proven bear-proof container. Coolers are not bear proof. If you use a cooler, keep it near you and closely attend it.

If you must must use a stringer —

  • Keep it in the water and near you (within 12 feet) at all times. 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. This affects the meat quality and increases the risk of attracting bears.

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.

Chop and Throw logo

Fish remains attract bears — Stop, chop and throw

  • When possible, clean fish at a designated fish cleaning station, or at home.
  • Cut filleted fish carcasses into smaller pieces that can be easily carried away in the current.
  • Toss all fish waste into deep, fast-moving currents — not in dumpsters! Do not leave entrails or other fish waste on the bank or in shallow water.
  • 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.

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.

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

Special Areas

Special efforts are requested for the following areas: