Mike Polocz of Soldotna said the hapless cub was struggling for its life after it was caught in the whirlpool on the upper Kenai River during a weekend fishing lesson with its siblings and big mama bear, which was watching ominously a short distance away.
"I couldn't watch this defenseless animal suffer," Polocz told the Anchorage Daily News. "I was ready to go in after it if it went under."
The brown bear cub, which looked to be 4-6 months old, actually tried to climb into the fishing net Polocz was using to try to push it free of the whirlpool. Rather than risk the cub getting tangled in the net, Polocz instead used the handle to prod the struggling animal out of the eddy and close enough to shore to make it to safety.
Once ashore, the cub gave out a yell and the mother bear instantly appeared to take charge of the situation.
Polocz and his two fishing buddies watched the pair lumber off. "There were three pretty tough guys in the boat, and there wasn't a dry eye among us," he said.