I was fishing in Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park yesterday, aka bear country. My group saw two black bears while on foot, and two grizzlies from the car (thankfully). We didn’t have any problems because the bears knew we were around, and that’s usually the key. Letting them know you’re in their neighborhood will help you prevent most potential problems with bears.
I think the number one safety resource that every should think about carrying is a whistle, whether you fish in bear country or not. I’ve gotten used to carrying a simple coach’s whistle in my fishing vest. You can blow the whistle to help others find you if you get separated from your fishing pals or get lost in the woods, fall on the rocks and get injured, or fall out of a boat on a lake. A whistle’s shrill peel will carry over the background noise of rushing water far better than any shouts you might muster. Just keep in mind that a whistle with a cork “pea” inside is apt to lose its volume and effectiveness when it gets wet.
Whistles only cost a few bucks, don’t weigh much, and can fit inside that tiny fishing vest pocket that you don’t know what to put in, in the first place. Of all the low expense, high reward pieces of safety gear you can carry when you fish, a simple whistle tops the list.