Photo of Grizzly Bears Fishing Brooks Falls
Grizzly Bears line up on top of Brooks Falls to fish for sockeye salmon. At the height of the sockeye salmon run in July, the falls is packed with fishing bears. Grizzly bears choose different spots on the falls – these bears are at the top waiting to catch a salmon leaping up the falls (you can just make out a salmon in the far right of this photo). Other bears will be below the falls to catch fish before they make the big leap.
It is a total myth that the biggest males dominate the top of Brooks Falls. I actually just saw a commercial on NatGeo Wild for a grizzly show called “King” and they of course say this King bear controls the best fishing spot at Brooks. This is a total lie- the bears actually line up as shown in this photo. When a bear catches a fish, she/he would usually leave the top of the falls to eat the fish on the sidelines. When a bear with a salmon leaves, another bear files in and waits to catch a fish. The grizzly bears are really quite organized, and share the fishing spots by cycling in and out. Of course, this isn’t a totally fixed rule. Some bears might grumble, growl and fight to maintain “their” spot for a while. But the two summers I spent in Brooks I rarely saw any loud fights on the actual falls.
It is also a myth that the large males are the best fishermen. The females, with cubs waiting on the sidelines, usually were much quicker and efficient at getting a salmon when it was their turn on the falls.
I also like this photo because it shows the drastic color differences between a line up of grizzly bears.