Ask A Bear: Does Fishing Gear Attract Bears?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'
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Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: What about fishing gear: Will my fly rod and fishing tackle attract bears? What about the clothes I wear while fishing? Do I need to handle these items in the same way I manage my food and other attractants?—Mike Butzer, via email

A: Mmmmm...fiiiiissssshhhh. Mike, m'man—you're making my mouth water just thinking about it. The only thing we bears might like more than your Cheezits and marshmallows is a fresh-caught trout, and as you likely know, those things start stinking the minute you get 'em out of water. So you need to behave accordingly.

Like berries, fish are a natural food for me, so if you're frequenting fish-filled streams in bear habitat, I might already be more likely to be cruising for food in the area. Since their odorous nature is bound to attract me, to be safe you should store your fishy gear like your food. Make sure to have a change of clothes, and store your fish-guts-stained clothes with food inside your canister or in your bear bag.

Tackle and rods might not fit easily in a canister or be easy to hang, so just make sure you clean them and stow them far away from camp. That way, if I choose to check it out, I won't be tempted to rummage through the rest of your possessions.

When cooking fish, it's especially important to make sure your cooking area is as far away from your camping area as possible. And cleaning the fish might be the smelliest task of all. Check your local regulations, but if you're catching fish in a high-volume, fast-flowing stream, it should be able to handle a little organic waste matter from a fish or two. Just clean near the river and dump the guts immediately, which should help minimize scent contamination (don't forget to pierce the air bladder, or the guts could float to shore).

If you're fishing in a lake, on a small stream, or cooking up a large amount of fish, you can burn the guts on a very hot fire. Just make sure they're thoroughly burned down, and again, keep that fishy kitchen away from camp.

Okay, I can't bear it any longer—lunchtime! Anyone want to catch me a trout?

—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.