By the middle of the month all the chum and pink salmon have spawned. The few that are still alive are hiding from bears along the riverbank. Dead salmon litter the bottom of the river and many bears spend their day eating the already dead salmon. It is a bit of an intermission between salmon runs. The bears most efficient at salmon catching are overly fat and are disappearing to mountain dens.
But some bears especially subadults and sows with young cubs still have more weight to gain to survive long winter hibernation. They are not worried, they know Act II, the spawning of coho salmon will begin late this month and last through the end of the year. Up to this point coho have remained out of reach in deep pools in the river since August. With the big floods of November coho struggle up all manner of tiny creeks to spawn, including the ditches along side of our access road. There they literally become the old fish in a barrel scenario. So many of these skinny subadults you saw struggling to catch a fish in September do indeed slowly get fat. Though it takes to December for them to get fat, they receive an added benefit; they will need less fat because they will be in their dens up to two months less than other bears.
Check back next month for another interesting wildlife fact.