Bob Howard figured his Monday morning fishing outing would be pretty typical: Catch some fish, keep them or throw them back in the water.
But the 54-year-old Boone resident was so startled when a “huge” water snake had latched on to his line that he almost dropped his fishing pole.
“I thought, ‘Uh oh. This is bigger than I thought,'” Howard told the Register on Thursday.
Bob Howard, 54, of Boone, Ia., had a water snake come up and snag a fish he had caught while fishing at Rathbun Lake on Monday, July 3, 2017.
Howard was fishing on Rathbun Lake in Appanoose County. He said the snake had come up from the water a few times before its surprise attack.
It was breakfast time.
“It came up and I hit it on the top of the head with my pole to get it go away,” Howard said. “He went under the water then he came up close to me.
“He just kept annoying me.”
What the snake was doing though, Howard said, was following his fishing bobber. The snake got close enough to where Howard’s stringer was located near a little rock pile he had set up.
Then a fish went for Howard’s bait and his bobber sank into the water. He reeled in his catch, but …
“The snake just came out of nowhere and snatched it,” Howard said.
Howard said he thought the snake was at least 6 feet long, noting that it “was as long as me.”
“Some of him was still in the water,” Howard said.
Howard and the snake had a brief tugging war for the fish. The snake eventually won the battle, Howard said.
Fortunately, to capture the moment, Howard had a camera handy and took pictures during the clash.
“He was just real aggressive,” Howard said of the snake. “He knows that bobber is going to bring in food.”
Karen Kinkead of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources wrote in an email to the Register on Thursday that the snake appears to be a northern water snake.
“They are not venomous, but they are not as likely as other snakes to move away from people,” Kinkead wrote. “They may be a little more likely to bite if you try to handle one.
“They will eat about any animal small enough to swallow that they can catch.”
According to Herpnet.net, it is illegal to kill or collect this snake type by law in Iowa.
The northern water snake, which ranges in length from 24 to 42 inches, is one of the state’s most commonly seen snakes and can be found in nearly every waterway and are usually seen while fishing.