BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 76

Rattlesnake

IT

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

in the Boat

STORY AND PHOTO B Y S C O T T S TA AT S

was a great day on the river. The weather was perfect and we had already caught many smallmouth bass, a couple in the 18-inch range. It’s always very exciting to catch lots of bass and a few big ones too, although the most exciting moment of the day occurred when I looked up to see a huge snake swim- ming across the river. At rst it appeared to be a harmless water snake but as it swam closer, it turned out to be a big fat rattle- snake about ve feet long.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU SAW A RATTLESNAKE SWIMMING TOWARD YOUR BOAT OR ACTUALLY GOT INTO YOUR BOAT?

Mike Iaconelli • Pittsgrove, NJ BASSMASTER ELITE PRO

I'm not one of those guys who are super afraid of snakes. As a kid I use to go snake hunting all the time. Now a rattlesnake is a different story! First I would put the trolling motor on high and try to move out of its way. If it happened to get in the boat, I would quickly reach for my 8 foot Abu Garcia Veritas ipping rod and proceed to put a beat down on that dumb snake!

I’m not sure if the boat just happened to be in the snake’s way but I swear when it spotted us, it made a beeline in our direction. We were in a northwestern style drift boat, and there’s not much freeboard on the side of a drift boat in the center and that’s exactly where the snake was headed. The guide tried vigorously to keep the snake at bay by ailing at it with the oar. I envisioned the snake being tossed into the boat as he brought the oar back up. The guys in the front were trying to push the snake away with their rods as I watched the scene from the backseat through the lens of my camera and through a few tears of laughter. Not long before we saw the snake the two clients were asking about rattlesnakes and shared their fear of them. Now they were frantically trying to keep the snake out of the boat. Then it occurred to me – what would I do if the snake actually got in the boat? Fortunately one of the blows from the oar discouraged the snake long enough for us to make a getaway. Seconds later the snake came back for round two and chased us downriver for sever- al minutes as the guide rowed for all he was worth. Then it simply oated away, coiled in the current, either content on cooling off or satis ed it had chased the large monster from its territory.

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Well, I’ve had a lot of experience with snakes over the years. For me, I am not so afraid of the rattlers. They tend to be more docile than the other species down where I live like the cottonmouth, but I did have a close call with a rattlesnake down on Falcon Lake a few years ago. I was practicing for a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament there, ipping heavy brush when I turned around and noticed a rattlesnake coiled around my steering cable at the motor. I took out my stern light pole and carefully un- wound the snake and gently dropped it back in the water. The snake didn’t really like being in the water as it continued to follow me when I motored away. It eventually turned away. The worst part of the whole experience was not the snake itself, but rather noticing all the snakes up in the trees above me after that. They were everywhere! I de nitely thought twice about stick- ing my hand into a bush or tree to push the boat away when I was ipping after that!

Greg Hackney • Gonzales, LA BASSMASTER ELITE PRO

Edwin Evers • Talala, OK BASSMASTER ELITE AND FLW TOUR PRO

I can promise you that snake wouldn't be getting in my boat! My rod may start out 7-1/2 feet long but by the time I swung that thing in every direction, it might be 2 or 3 foot long. I am going to be swinging it, using it like a sword or defense mechanism of some sort. I'm going to be hitting everything that gets in the way! BW

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January/February 2011