An Angler, A Catfish, A Snake

Photo by Ryan Hollister

I recently visited my cousin, who lives in a gorgeous house hard against a golf course in the Sierra foothills just outside of Auburn. A bunch of us sat outside in her yard with a view of the 13th tee and the hilly terrain she told us contains everything from deer to coyote and even black bears (she’s seen the former two critters and a neighbor had spotted the bruins on the fairway a few weeks earlier). She also pointed us out to some massive hawks that also make this area home. The birds love to swoop low and pick up any small creatures on the ground for a quick meal (her tiny Yorkie pup rarely is out of sight just in case a hawk decides to dive bomb her patio.  At one point, Michele directed us to a bird flying low across her yard with a decent-size garter snake in its mouth. Pretty wild stuff!

I bring this up because of some news out of New Melones Lake, where an angler landed a catfish and a bonus snake. 


Here’s the Stockton Record with more on this bizarre interaction of species:

Ryan Hollister of Turlock was trolling a worm on a spinner for trout at New Melones Lake when he hooked and landed a surprise brown bullhead catfish measuring 14 inches long.

He was fishing with his dad, Jim, at 45 feet deep over 115 feet of water near the spillway, a strange place for this bottom-dwelling species to be. Yet, he was not ready for even a stranger surprise.

“The fish didn’t put up much of a fight – I just dragged it in and my dad netted it,” Hollister said. “My dad gave me the net so I could take out the hook and release the fish. I opened the fish’s mouth so I could remove the hook when I saw a scaly diamond pattern.”

“I told my dad, ’I think this fish has a snake in it. As he pulled the hook out of the fish’s mouth, the hook grabbed the snake, a rattlesnake.”

The snake was already dead, with bite marks on it from the bullhead’s teeth. “The snake was longer than the catfish that ate it,” said Hollister, a high school geology and environmental science teacher at Turlock High School.

The duo didn’t get the species they were targeting – rainbow trout, although they lost one near the boat. They did release a couple of spotted bass, and of course, the snake-eating catfish.

They were fishing about 75 yards from shore near the spillway. “I don’t know what that catfish was doing that far from the bank, but It was a very memorable day,” he concluded.