One of the great appeals of fishing is that it puts us in close connection with nature.Â Iâ€™ve always said that if an angler doesnâ€™t take time to regularly soak in the views around him/her, theyâ€™re really not getting the most out of fishing, regardless of how many fish they actually catch.
But letâ€™s face it, there are times when encounters with wild animals are more than exhilaratingâ€”they can be downright dangerous and frightening.Â Trust me, the first time you find yourself standing in a river and a bear walks out of the woods to join you, you wonâ€™t soon forget it.Â Those of you who have actually had this experience know exactly what I am talking about.
Goodness knows I have had my share of animal encounters as I have been out fishing.Â To tell you the truth, these situations always seem more frightening in hindsight, because as they actually happen, Iâ€™m usually just awestruck by the power and grace of the animals I see.Â Thatâ€™s certainly true with bears, or mooseâ€¦ or even a bull shark that swims through a flat and bumps into the side of my kayak.
If you want to know what scares me most, Iâ€™ll admit that Iâ€™m not a fan of rattlesnakes.Â Thereâ€™s something about that sudden surprise that Iâ€™ve never quite liked.Â And large catsâ€”like mountain lionsâ€”give me the creeps.Â Iâ€™ve only seen a few lions, but Iâ€™ve felt like I was being watched often.Â Iâ€™ve even seen paw prints in the sand where I had been standing (and those prints were not there) only an hour or so earlier.
The thing to remember is that when we fish, weâ€™re in these animalsâ€™ space.Â Weâ€™re the visitors.Â And nobodyâ€”animals or anglersâ€”likes surprises.Â Itâ€™s extremely rare for any animal to actively pursue and attack a grown human.Â Most problems occur when animals are startled or provoked.
So as a rule of thumb, when youâ€™re out in the wild places, be sure to make your presence known.Â Be loud.Â Sing songs.Â Shuffle your feet.Â Whistle.Â Whatever it takes to let those critters know youâ€™re coming.Â Thatâ€™s not always best for the fishing, but itâ€™s a trade Iâ€™ll always make.Â Secondly, be vigilant.Â Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open.Â Often times the animals (like rattlesnakes) will let you know where they are, so you can avoid them.Â Lastly, you want to avoid silly mistakes.Â Leaving food open and available in bear countryâ€¦ getting between a sow and her cubs to take a photographâ€¦ walking toward a bull mooseâ€¦ not the brightest moves you can make.
When you do encounter animals, make yourself large and calm.Â Back away from the situation.Â Donâ€™t provoke, and donâ€™t make aggressive, sudden moves.
And lastly, when it comes to wild animals, keep everything in perspective.Â The most dangerous threats are often the smallest ones.Â Itâ€™s a fact that mosquitoes cause more deaths and illnesses worldwide than all the snakes, bears, lions, tigers and sharks put together.
When you share the wilderness with large animalsâ€”smartly and responsiblyâ€”the fishing experience is even more exciting and rewarding.