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Snakes I Have Encountered Fishing

Fishing and Snakes Go Together


Snakes I Have Encountered Fishing
Snakes are a part of every warm weather fishing trip - even if you don't see them! When we go into their habitat to fish, they are nearby. At one time I felt the only good snake was a dead snake, but no more. They don't bother me if I leave them alone, so I try to do just that.

I have had several "interactions" with snakes that stand out in my memory. Starting young, I had a close encounter while on a camping trip when I was about 10. A water moccasin, what we called every snake near the water, tried to eat some fish on a stringer. Although it was probably just a harmless banded water snake, and an adult with the group of campers killed it. I took out my trusty pocket knife and dissected it. It was full of eggs - something that stirred quite a lot of interest around the campfire.

One summer we did a lot of frog gigging in local ponds. Three of us took a 12 foot jon boat and gigged all we could eat most any night. We had a good method - a gigger in front of the boat, a spotlighter in the middle and a paddler in the back.

One night while I was in the middle we spotted a huge bullfrog under a willow tree. Harold laid down in the front so he could ease under the tree. I stood up to spot the frog better as Bobby paddled us closer. I reached out and grabbed a limb to steady me and the boat as it slipped under the tree. Something made me shine the light on the limb I had grabbed and, sure enough, there was a snake about two inches away.

We "eased" back out at just under Mach 2. I guess me screaming "Snake" over and over had an effect on Harold and Bobby. He had never paddled so fast - and never has again, as far as I know. And I never again put my hand on anything in the dark without checking it! We went home, got a shotgun, came back and the poor dumb snake was still there - for a few seconds. We never did get that frog - or any others under willow trees.

I carried a frog gig with me most of the time while fishing- it was real handy for catching trotlines under the water, removing gar from the line and gigging fish and frogs. Once when fishing in a creek I saw movement in the leaves and, being too curious - or too dumb - to leave it alone, stuck the movement with my gig. When I raise it up I found I had interrupted the romantic interlude of two snakes, both of which looked like they were stuck in about the middle of their bodies. I really could not tell if the gig was through both of them or if they were just twined around it.

Those snakes tried to crawl back down the gig handle - and I was holding that gig handle! I had always carried a gun with me since the snake in the willow tree so I picked up my semiautomatic .22 and started firing - with one hand - at the twisting mess six feet from my hands. The gun held only 17 bullets but I pulled the trigger a few hundred times before realizing it had quit shooting - and the snakes had quit moving.

A frog gig played a small part in another snake encounter. Linda and I went out to check trotlines early one May morning at Clark's Hill. I pulled the trotline up with my gig and felt something pulling on it. As the third hook come out of the water, a snake was barely visible dangling from it. The snake had eaten the minnow bait and drowned during the night. The pulling was from catfish further out. I am glad I found the snake in the daylight - after it died. What really made this incident interesting was the small snake staying with the bigger dead one. I didn't think snakes took care of their young, just thought they laid their eggs and left, but this 12 inch snake would not leave the 30 inch dead one. Maybe it was momma. It stayed around even after I unhooked the bigger one and threw it back into the water.

I guess the little one had stayed nearby all during the night, going down to where the bigger one was underwater. It came up with the bigger one and did not want to leave. It was still swimming around the area when we got our catfish and left. Maybe snakes do have families!

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