Gone Fishin’

We sent out our email away message saying we are on vacation, akin to hanging up the “Gone Fishin’” sign of years ago. Instead of trout, we were looking to catch photos. Today, we wanted to catch bears.

In order to do so, we scheduled a visit to the Anan Bear Observatory outside of Wrangell, AK. We got to our departure point at 8:00, cameras in tow. After chatting with our guide, we found out that we may not see any bears. He had been to the observatory a few days prior and there was no activity. No bears and no salmon to draw the bears. Trying to be helpful, I offered to fetch some salmon mousse from the cruise ship. Sometimes my NY wit is not an advantage. 

We set off on the hour long boat ride, expectations low. 

Black Bear of Anan, hungry from a long winter of semi-hibernation, told its den mates that he was going fishing for salmon. He’d heard from his neighbor, Brown Bear, that some salmon were finally in the river. He put up his “gone fishin’“ sign and started the long trek to the river. Can’t trust those browns he mused, but I am so very hungry.

After a 30 minute hike into the observatory, we were more than ready to see a bear. Time passed and there was not a bear to be found. Disappointment was setting in.

Black Bear of Anan ambled through the rain forest, very hungry. A few berries were starting to show themselves, but they were hardly satisfying. Perhaps a dessert after salmon tartar?

We started looking at eagles, trying to photograph them. They were too far away, just a spec in a photograph. Maybe a scenic shot or two, after all, we are in a lush green rain forest full of moss and ferns. The bears remained elusive.

Moss and colorful leaves are no substitute for bears.


Black Bear of Anan finally arrives at the river’s edge to find a lot of water, but no salmon. Duped by Brown Bear, I was. Knowing him, he is probably munching on all those berries I passed. There goes dessert.

Finally, there is a bear spotting. A skinny black one. Click Click Click. Got him. And then another one. All hell was breaking loose, dozens of people scurrying along the viewing platform for the best view point, cameras firing away. Then there was a salmon sighting, quite a few to be sure. And, best of all, the Black Bear spotted them too.

Black Bear from Anan moved closer the river’s edge, readying himself for a breakfast of fresh salmon. Just a jump into the water and it will be mine.

Kas was focused on the black bear that was fishing. I was focused on the other. The fishing one jumped into the river.

A full belly flop – maybe trying to crush the salmon?

On his second try, breakfast.

Temporarily sated the Black Bear from Anan surveyed his territory. (Note: I was petting distance from him)

First look at Brown Bear – berries are not enough for this guy.

This guy did an underwater swim searching for salmon.

I asked him to stand never thinking he would listen.

Finally, a pose. Check out his paws. They are built for digging.

Remember, it’s all about the light.