Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Brookie V Snake, who wins?

Well, classes wrapped up last week, and a transition with work has begun (my business partner is taking on new ventures (all positive for each of us) and so I'm starting to take over things and work fully solo) so I decided to give myself a gift and go fishing yesterday afternoon.  Rosemary and the kids played at a museum and at home, and I was on "mental reset" time.  

I shot out to fish the swift - a localish tailwater that's really the only reasonable drive, and reasonable fish health situation right now if I want to catch trout.  And, well, I just was looking to have some fun on that specific stream today.

Rather than fish it's lower sections, I opted to fish the upper CR/Fly only area.  It was fishing solidly from the infamous bubbler arm through the Y pool and really right down to the bridge.  I caught fish the whole way... on my favorite things: big hoppers or chernobyls.  Only a few fish on the yellow and orange zebra midge I'm really growing to love.  Caught a few brookies, one was only about 6" and some how had my entire #6 chernobyl in it's mouth.  WOW!  Most of the day's catch though were the big chubby rainbow's that live here.

That all said, this was a day to remember not because the fishing was pretty good... But for other reasons.

Walking up the trail after arriving, I saw a few turkeys, actually a group of about 8, 3-4 toms and some hens.  Sort of funny to see them together this time of year... and given this area is a public park with no hunting, they were surprisingly comfy with my proximity, I ultimately walked by about 10 yards away.  Pretty cool.

As noted, I got some nice bow's like this chubby one (sorry the pic is pretty deep in the water, I was trying to minimize stress on the fish).

And this skinny one among others...

But shortly after a heavy rain shower came through... I heard some splashing under some hemlock limbs.  I looked over and was confused.  Why is that brookie swimming up the bank?  Sometimes they clear the water trying to catch a bug, could it have landed on the bank?  Well, I walked over to see...

It was a banded watersnake, 30-35" long I'd say... it had caught the trout, and was trying to wrestle the 6-7" brookie up the bank for snake snack time!  At first I couldnt believe it.  I mean, I know water snakes are supposed to eat fish, but, in my head, that meant 2" minnows on occasion.

I tried to poke the snake with my rod butt a few times.  He didnt like it - as you would expect - but he would have rather died than let that brookie go - which for him in some ways could be the same thing.  No lunch, no life for a wild animal...

After trying to pull the fish out, it clearly would have resulted in serious skin loss on the fish at best... so I just scooped up the snake with my rod butt to get a better picture of this once in my life time sighting.

Here's another to show off some of the snakes impressive size... Hard to see, but he's sort of S bent through this pic... If he was hanging straight he's easily at or beyond 30", and clearly chubby on brookies.

So, the next time you see a watersnake on your local blue line or other fishery... yep... They do indeed eat fish... and not just the little minnows or fry!

Have a super day and keep well


  1. Will that's incredible. I've seen snakes in the water on the hunt, and once saw one with a bullhead in his mouth but never that close up.
    I was out today and saw a slew of turkey's several big gobblers and many jakes. Two spotted fawns, which took off like lightning as I stepped forward to take a pic, and a shy moose.

    1. Alan - what an amazing day in the field. You saw some amazing things. Were you in CT? We see moose often up here in MA but it seems like it's still sort of rare down there... is that correct?

    2. Will I was in north-west CT. DEEP say's we have a permanent population down here, primarily in the northwest and northeast parts of the state. Several have showed up in central CT and one that was killed on I95 in Old Saybrook which is right on the coast.

  2. Will - That must have been a bit unsettling to watch. I've seen two black water snakes catch and eat trout. I don't like snakes but they do need to eat to survive.

    1. Mark,
      It showed my inner bias. If it had been a dace, a shiner, a baby sucker... I'd have let it ride and not tried to pull the fish out. But being a brookie... Had to try. In the end, the snake got a healthy snack, I learned a thing or two, and walked away even more amazed at the natural world around us!

  3. Wow, Will, I finally made by to read this post and I come away amazed at what you have just written and photographed!!!

    Not all memory's in our memory bank are of the type you have shown here........... What a unique experience!

    1. Right on Mel - it was really crazy to see! Keep taking good care of you!