As salmon crowd into the Russian River, so do the people — and the bears.
A black bear was spotted at the Russian River Falls on Sunday afternoon, fishing for salmon. Food-conditioned brown bears were spotted near the U.S. Fores Service’s campground recently, according to signs posted around the Russian River trail and campground.
Late-run sockeye salmon are steadily making their way up into the river system. More than 1,000 salmon have passed into Lower Russian Lake every day since Aug. 1, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s data. A total of 18,188 sockeye have passed through Fish and Game’s weir on the lake, with a little less than a month to go in the run.
Visitors and photographers crowded around the pools at the base of the Russian River Falls on Sunday to observe the salmon making an attempt to jump up the falls, as they do every year. However, bears also fish in the falls area, and the chances of an encounter increase when the salmon are present.
The U.S. Forest Service, which maintains the trail and campground, recommends visitors and campers keep their food either in a solid camping unit or in a backpack no more than three feet away. Anglers should keep any fish they retain no more than 12 feet away, and if possible, take fish out whole rather than filleting on site.