Next Month on Bearcam

July 30, 2015 Posted by: Michael Fitz
What should you expect to see at Brooks River and on bearcam over the next month? 

Today, bears are still at Brooks River and fishing at Brooks Falls, but now is a time of dispersal for Brooks River bears. While other parts of Katmai fill with bears in August, it’s the opposite at Brooks Camp. August brings bears more opportunities to find food away from Brooks River. 

many bears standing at Brooks FallsLast year on this date, few bears fished at Brooks Falls. This year we are treated with a little extra bear activity. NPS/M. Fitz.

I’ve spoken before (most recently during a recent play-by-play) about how bears are opportunists. More salmon and a slightly later migration will give some bears the opportunity to successfully fish at the falls for a longer period of time this year. In August, however, salmon stop migrating through Brooks River in large numbers.

Instead of surging through the river by the thousands, salmon disperse throughout the watershed to dozens of other small streams in the area. This provides bears with an opportunity to fish in many other places (most of which do not concentrate bears like Brooks Falls).

Sockeye salmon in spawning colors swimming into a small creekMany small streams in Katmai, some of which are only a few feet wide and very shallow, harbor spawning salmon in August. NPS/M.Fitz.

There is another reason to expect few bears at Brooks River in August—salmon accessibility. Many sockeye salmon inhabit Brooks River after they stop migrating, but they remain energetic and are present in low densities. This creates difficult fishing conditions for bears. If bears can’t catch fish at one place, they’ll go elsewhere. Only after salmon begin to spawn and die at the end of August and early September will fishing conditions improve enough for large numbers of bears to return to Brooks River.

salmon in river with meadows and mountain in backgroundEven though salmon stage in Brooks River in August before they spawn, they are not easy to catch until they begin to spawn and die. NPS/B. Plog.

What should you expect to see at Brooks River in August? Few bears. Opportunities to catch salmon are simply better in other places. Bears are smart enough and curious enough to exploit those opportunities.

bears, salmon, opportunity, Brooks River, Brooks Camp

3 Comments Comments icon

  1. John
    August 11, 2017 at 06:06

    We've been to Brooks Lodge before in July, but would rather come back next year in September. I believe there is a second salmon run over the falls in September. When in September, if at all, are bears as likely to be fishing at the falls as they are in July?

  2. August 05, 2015 at 04:52

    Hi Linda. It depends. It can be hard to predict exactly when the bears will come back, but they usually have started to return by the beginning of September.

  3. August 02, 2015 at 04:14

    I am planning a trip to Brooks, if I go begging of September , will there be any bear in the area? Last year they seemed to be some around but wanted to see what my chances may be.

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Last updated: July 30, 2015

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