We began our July fishing adventures on a DeHavilland Beaver float plane with pilot and 4 passengers plus our gear for a day fishing at Big River Lakes. Light layers and neoprene chest waders were all the gear that was needed.
We left Lake Hood in Anchorage about 9 a.m. heading across Cook Inlet to Lake Clark National Park west of Redoubt Bay and arrived at our destination around 10:30 a.m.
The flight was easy and enjoyable with sunny skies, taking in the scenery of the Aleutian Range as we flew closer. We arrived and transferred our gear to a flat bottom aluminum boat and the pilot/guide took us across the lake to fish on the west shore beside the stream. The planes are parked on muskeg, much too soggy for fishing so the pilots do double duty and run the boats as well.
Big River Lakes is a series of interconnected lakes that are a popular fly-out fishing spot. There were at least 3 other airplanes there the day we went out. A nearby lodge is well suited for bear viewing and we shared the lake with many other boats.
Soon after we arrived a 400 pound black bear come in to the stream feeding from the lake and he was there maybe 5 minutes when he suddenly took off when a 3-4 year old, 800-pound boar brown bear showed up. The brown bear fished for about 30-40 minutes while we stayed on shore well away from him. Though the bear was calm and showed no aggression to us, everyone stayed on the boats and gave him plenty of respect allowing him access to his fishing hole. He wandered off down the bank of the lake and 30-40 minutes later a sow with 3 cubs showed up. The sow was teaching the cubs how to fish, but the cubs were more interested in simply playing in the lake and checking out the fishermen. The sow paid no attention to the humans gathered and seemed to have no interest in our presence.
After they ate their fill, they proceeded down the bank on the south side of the lake, leaving the peaceful lakes once more to the fishermen. As she disappeared, the male brown bear began to swim across the lake from the north bank to the south, a distance of about 500 yards. As he got to the south shore and went into the woods, there was a loud ruckus and we assumed the sow had a confrontation with the male who was chased off, though he was nearly 300 pounds more than the sow. Shortly the male emerged from the south shore and swam back toward the north shore.
Unconcerned about the antics of the local bear population, we continue our quest for the Red Salmon we had come to fish. We stayed on the lakes about 5 hours and everyone caught their limit, catching and releasing fish until we were ready to head back to Anchorage. With no rain, mild temperatures, and no mosquitoes, we had a wonderful day fishing.