Below is a photo from reader Jeff Marschuetz of a catfish he caught recently. Upon cleaning it, he noticed that the stomach was really full. Well, it was full of a big water moccasin and her babies. To quote Jeff, “Luckily enough for us they were dead.” Yeah, I agree. So did the cat eat momma and the babies separately, or were the babies born in the stomach? We may never know the answer, but it got me thinking about things I’ve found inside fish.


If I keep a fish for the table, I can’t help but check the stomach contents. Not only is it interesting, but can make you a better fisherman. I was on a trip long ago that relied on me catching a trout for dinner. I fished hard all day, throwing every fly I had and caught just one. Its stomach was filled with snails. So I tied an ugly piece of gray yarn in a ball, wound it on a hook and the next day…boom! It could do no wrong.

Then there was a striper I caught in a bunker school that had a huge gut. Naturally, I figured it was full of bunker. Nope. Four bluefish about 2 pounds a piece. I’ve found enough jigs and metal lures in stripers and bluefish to fill a tackle box. I’ve even seen a striper with a piece of wire arm from an umbrella rig poking out of its belly. It was still feeding normally and apparently in perfect health.

Ever found something out of the ordinary in a fish? Or have you ever used stomach contents to formulate later game plans?