Smalley no fan of snakes

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There’s a %&$#% snake in the boat!”

In over three-score and 10 years, the first time I ever put those words together in that order was two weeks ago during a fly fishing float trip on the Missouri River.

When we launched at Craig, Justin Lawrence, who owns Lakestream Fly Shop in Whitefish, cautioned me to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. The previous afternoon Justin had seen three snakes on the Wolf Creek to Craig section where I had waded the shoreline.

I had seen a suspicious “V” swimming on the other side of the river, which I assumed had been a snake.

Two days before I’d walked over a mile through pasture to fly fish for carp in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, but saw no snakes.

Just because I was a biology teacher doesn’t mean I have to like snakes. I can tolerate them at a distance. A LONG distance. Make that even LONGER!

About a mile downstream from Craig, we pulled to shore for a snack and I told my fishing buddies what Justin had told me about snakes.

“I’d rather run into a grizzly bear than a rattlesnake,” I said, like I’ve said many times. (Although I’ve never had a close personal encounter with either).

At about that time I looked down at my feet and there was a “4-foot rattler” lying on the floor of the raft.

A closer, calmer look revealed a skinny, scared 2-foot water snake!

When I yelled, Matt jumped up on the back of the rower’s seat and hollered, “Get the net!”

Both Brian and I quickly responded, “So how’s a net gonna help?”

Luckily for all of us, including the snake, Brian coolly scooped the snake out of the raft with his hand and it swam away.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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