“Bear Bait” is the radio call-sign we use for our launch and shore party. It has been our tradition for years, no need to plan this ahead of time, we know.
It was the first time we rented a boat from Nordic Tug Charters, nearly two decades ago. We had the Main Event for a week, just five guys enjoying a cruise. We were trying out a new experience after many years of fishing around Ketchikan each summer. The trip offered more than just fishing, but a chance to get out and explore places we had never been. Let there be no confusion here… We did fish, enough to fill the coolers for the trip home.Anchored for the evening in Donkey Cove at the south end of Admiralty Island, my father and I decided to explore the stream. We were looking for salmon, and looking for bear. While we did not see a bear, there was plenty of bear sign… Crushed grass, scattered salmon carcasses, and piles of fresh bear scat testified to the presence of furry fishermen.
There were fish too, the pools just above tidewater were more fish than water. Thousands of pink salmon were waiting for the tide to deepen the creek before they made the dash for the gravel bars to spawn. That many fish was an impressive sight, the richness of nature in the raw on that damp Alaskan beach.
As we explored the cove and creek our handheld radio crackled to life… “Main Event to Bear Bait”, my father and I looked at each other, are they calling us? There was no one else he would be calling. It was Dan of course, his sense of humor was somewhat flavored by the days of living on a boat with five men.
“Main Event to Bear Bait”, the radio repeated. Nothing to do but answer, “This is Bear Bait, go ahead”. With the evidence of grizzly bears all around us on the beach the call sign was all too appropriate. I let the boat know that we were fine, just out of sight of the boat for a while.
Ever since that day Bear Bait has been our traditional call sign for the launch or shore party. We always have a portable marine radio with the launch, it is more convenient and adds an important safety factor.
“Nordic Quest this is Bear Bait, we are returning from shore, prepare to receive the launch, be there in five.”