In 20 years of fishing the Upper Brazos River in Texas, Shane Davies of River Run Guide Service (214-418-9786) has earned a reputation for using unusual baits to catch big bass. But he topped himself on a recent outing, landing a 10-lb. largemouth with, of all things, a rattlesnake. Here's the story--with the pictures to prove it--of how Davies pulled off his unusual catch.
“I was fishing alone, scouting for some upcoming trips, just getting a feel for the bite,” Davies says, “when I noticed a rattlesnake swimming across the river.” While poisonous snakes are common in the area, they’re a rare sighting in the river itself, Davies says.
He continued to fish but kept an eye on the snake, which changed direction when it spotted his kayak and swam toward him. “I thought, ‘Good gosh, that thing looks great in the water,” Davies recalls. “‘If I could find a bait that mimicked that action I know I’d get some bites.”
The snake kept coming, and soon it lifted its head and tried to climb into Davies’ kayak. The rattler was a juvenile, about 14 inches long, but plenty big enough to scramble aboard the low lying boat. “No way was I letting that happen,” Davies says.
A couple of whacks with the kayak paddle stunned the snake. Davies, ever the innovator, had an idea.
He scooped up the dazed rattler with his paddle …
… and dropped it into the forward foot well of his kayak.
Soon the rattlesnake began to come around, and Davies put his plan into action.
“I wasn’t kidding myself,” Davies says. “I knew if I got bit I’d be in a precarious position. Young rattlers don’t control their venom output, so they’re probably more hazardous than one that’s 6 ft. long.”
He grabbed the ¾ oz. Stanley weedless jig he’d been fishing and threaded the hook through the rattler’s bottom lip and out the top of its head. The rest of his old school rig: A 7-ft. magnum action Castaway rod, an Abu Garcia 1600 reel and Fenwick 30-lb. test braided line.
Davies targeted submerged timber along the shoreline. “On about the sixth cast, the bass absolutely hammered the snake–on the way down,” Davies says. “It never even hit the water.”
Twice the bass jumped right by the 12-ft. ocean kayak, which Davies customized for river fishing. “A kayak sits so low in the water that you’re right there with a fish,” he says. “It’s like hand-to-hand combat. But when the fish is thrashing around with a live rattlesnake in its mouth … I was worried that snake would wind up in my lap!”
Landing a bass with a rattlesnake capped a memorable day, which had started with Davies catching a record 58-inch long-nosed gar. “I thought, ‘You know what? It just isn’t going to get a whole lot better than this.'” Releasing bass and bait, Davies headed home.
Asked if he expects his clients to request this unconventional tactic, Davies laughs. “I’ve got lots of ways to catch bass on the Brazos; I don’t need a rattlesnake to do it.” He may not need to do it, but he’s certainly proven he can.