Close Call: Fly Angler Bitten By a Rattlesnake

While stalking trout along Colorado's Dolores River, fly angler Todd Field was bitten on his ankle by a rattlesnake. Field tells the story:

This happened a few years ago, before my wife and I were married. I picked her up for a date one night, but before leaving I took my wading boots out of the truck because I didn't want the car to stink. A few days later, I had plans to fish the Dolores River in southwest Colorado, and only after I'd driven the three hours did I realize that I'd forgotten my wading boots. So I decided to fish in my sandals.

I was walking up the river and spotted some big trout rising, and as I stalked into casting position, I felt a light prick on my right ankle. I thought it was just a thorn, but when I looked down there was an 18-inch rattlesnake coiled inches from my feet. I swear I jumped 15 feet in a single bound.

For a minute I thought maybe I could continue fishing and my weekend wouldn't be ruined. Then I thought, You just got bitten by a venomous snake. Get to a hospital! So I drove to the hospital in Cortez about 30 minutes away. By the time I walked into the ER I was already limping. Fortunately the doctors couldn't detect any venom. The snake only got me with one fang, and it was classified as a "dry bite." Still, it was a severe injury. My leg swelled 50 percent larger than its normal size, and the entire leg was purple, black, and yellow. It was the worst pain of my life. I was on crutches for two months and needed physical therapy to get it working again. My summer was ruined.

I guess I got off pretty easy, though. I can't imagine a two-fang bite.