Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
May 15, 2012

Andy Whitcomb

Boating Reason #131: Snakes

There are many reasons to enjoy boating. Laird Durham, a freelance writer and avid boater, has assembled his Top 10 Reasons, and there are many others.   Fishing, of course, is a major reason.  Access to all depths and locations of a body of water is a huge plus for fishing from a boat.  For some, so is avoiding contact with snakes.

Unless it is steelhead season and very cold, many fishermen, like my fishing companion from Pennsylvania, refuse to fish from the shore because of snakes. “Wigglers,” I think he calls them. Another angler, Aric Warren of Oklahoma, described one encounter with a brazen northern water snake. “I had a five foot snake latch on to a 2-pound bass tied to my stringer,” he shared.  He also had one bite his rubber worm.  Although the snake wasn’t hooked, “he didn’t let go until I had pulled him up on shore.”

Snakes are just part of any warm aquatic ecosystem. Although they prey on fish, frogs, and aquatic insects, fish also prey on them.  Doug Hannon makes a snake lure for big bass. And, how many times have you quickly reeled in a soft-plastic worm only to recast, slipping it snake-like across the surface, and had a bass blast into it?

Certainly, boat ownership does not make one immune to all snake encounters. If my jon boat has been sitting on the shore of the pond unused for a few days, there is a good chance a snake is underneath. There was even recent footage on ESPN of a water snake chasing a frog lure at a Bassmaster Elite tournament at Douglas Lake in Tennessee.

When fishing from shore, collecting bait, or any outside activity, stay alert. Most snakes won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  Aric has had enough close encounters. “I stopped wearing sandals and now wear a good pair of boots, and look ahead before I step.”

I don’t have much of an issue with snakes, but I certainly prefer to reach my target heart rate for the day with the aid of a sudden top water blast by a bass or pike, rather than jumping and hollering because I almost stepped on something that slithered in the weeds.


Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at

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0 Responses to “Boating Reason #131: Snakes”

  1. pmarbrown says:

    Last month while kayaking up Murder Creek in Eatonton, GA with my 12 year old grandaughter, a very fat water moccasin dropped out of a tree just feet in front of my kayak and fell into the water and swam to the bank. My granddaughter, thankfully was occupied at the time trying to recover a lost bobber.I waited a while to tell her about the snake! That may have ended our trip too soon.

  2. bob yarnell says:

    Working on a farm in Tenn, I had plenty of opportunities to encounter snakes. One that seems to stand to me: I was picking up brush in a freshly cleared field, I picked up an armload of brush….I looked down and there was a huge copper head snake right between my legs. We stared at each other for a while….then I moved away and called the guy on the tractor…he came over and dispatched the snake.

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