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.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.