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Just Going Back To My Fishin' Hole


Wasilla, AK, United States

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© Deb Larson

952 Views by 12-13-2010
Favorited by 29 people


SONY A900; f/5.6; 1/160 sec.; ISO-800; 400 mm; 4-5.6 70/400 SSM Sony Lens. Straight from camera.

8-17-2009 dawned as another beautiful day, which was a VERY welcome sight (after having quite a few days of rain) especially for those who lived in or along the flooded areas, from the Skilak Lake area south to the mouth of the Kenai River. Since the water was about 5 or more feet above the top of the boat launch here at Riverbend (the campground where we spend most of our time during the summer months) we decided we would take a little drive and check out some of the other flooded areas. This shot was taken at the Isaac Walton State campground just off the Sterling Highway, Sterling, Alaska where the Kenai River meets the Moose river … doesn’t look like we are going to find many dry spots here for someone to put up a tent.

After leaving the Isaac Walton campground, we continued North to Fueding Lane, which would lead us into the Kenai Keys area. It wasn’t long before we realized that we couldn’t get there from here as the road was under water. We turn back and figure we’ll continue heading North and take the Skilak Lake road and check out Skilak Lake. Now, to explain the flooding … a glacial damn located in the mountains above Skilak Lake gave way, dumping into Skilak Lake which in turn flooded the Kenai River south of the lake. We found the lakes to be pretty high, walked around a bit then continued on our way. We were almost to the end of Skilak lake road (had maybe another 4.5 to 5 miles to go), when we came across this young grizzly. We had been wondering how the bears were making out with the water so high since they didn’t have access to the (fresh fish) or the many filleted out carcasses that litter the banks of the Russian and Kenai Rivers during the summer months. We spoke to some people who had been watching this bear for a while, they said he kept going into the culvert that ran under the road, then would come out with a fish, eat it and then go back in … they also stated that a couple of hikers had scared off a large boar that had been in the area shortly before we came along. So sure enough there he goes back towards the edge of the culvert, he stops for a moment as if to let us take another shot or two then disappears into the culvert.

It was really amazing to be standing there in the road, above the very culvert that this young bear had entered, and be able to listen to the noise that seemed to echo from inside the culvert as this young bear thrashed around trying to catch himself another fish. It doesn’t take long … and here he comes … with another fish dangling from his jaws.

He heads off to the edge of the woods where he lays down his fish, looks around, then proceeds to devour it (you could actually hear the crunching of the fish bones as he bit into his much prized meal … and as we stood, watched and listened some of the bystanders turned to the person next to them and asked if they could also hear the that crunching noise). Once he was done, he started back out into the open, paused and looked around (you have to wonder what is going through his mind) as if he wanted to make sure that everyone was able to get some great shots of him.

He then starts back towards the small creek and his fishing pool (inside the culvert) when we hear this loud thundering noise coming down the road, the noise startles him

and he quickly flees back into the edge of the woods (one would have to wonder if he felt he was invisible once he crossed that line from full view to partial view). He stands silently, waiting and watching as he tries to figure out just what is making that loud noise, and there appears a tour van loaded with people towing a trailer loaded down with kayaks … they stop for a couple minutes to check out the bear … then proceed on their way.

Once he sees that the loud vehicle has managed to escape his area, he figures it is safe to come back out and carry on with his fishing expedition.

He nears the edge of the stream, stops for a few moments as if to make sure that it was safe to enter the stream …

once he was back in the water, he stood still allowing for some more photos to be taken …

then before we knew it, he was headed back into the culvert … to seek out another prize fish which he could make disappear in a matter of minutes. At this point Rick felt it was time to move on … while I wished that we could have stayed a little longer to watch and enjoy one of God’s creatures in the wild, doing what comes natural to them.

We were so glad to see that even a young bear can come up with a safe and clever way to put food in his belly without having to resort to visiting the nearest dumpster (or someone’s outside garbage bins) and thereby becoming a nuisance bear.

~ We give thanks to this young bear for providing us with another adventure filled day … on the Kenai Peninsula ~

Rick’s favorite image from my recent bear shots.

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