Chicago Sun-Times
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Wild of the Week: Snake taking crappie

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Ron Siwinski and Brad Lachow said this was a copperhead snake pulling a spawning crappie out of shallow water.


They were on a crappie fishing trip in southern Illinois and Missouri with the Village Sportsmen's Club in Alsip.

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Well, that's definately a copperhead, and it's definately got a fish.
-Won't have to eat again for months.
BTW -the metafile on the pic shows that it was snapped with a Blackberry phone on May 5th.

While that is an excellent picture, it does not appear to be a copperhead, but a water snake. The pattern is more akin to a water snake and the shape of the head, position of the eyes, and marking on the head. The picture indicates a telltale line on the back of the head which is common in Northern and Southern Watersnakes, but absent in copperheads. My guess is this is a Northern Watersnake.

However, I wasn't there and can't vouch 100% for the identify. Very rare sight in the wild, that's for sure.

You are right, this fellow will be full for a while!


I've been catching, keeping, releasing snakes and other reptiles/amphibians for over 40 years. Just caught a 2.5' N. Copperhead last month in North Carolina and have had dozens of them and water snakes as well. The pattern "could" be a copperhead, but has pattern coloration more akin to the N. Water. Also, the line on top of the head and the shape of the head/nose/eyes makes me pretty certain it is a water snake.

But you just don't run into a snake eating a meal like that everyday and in 40 years I think I've only run into 1-2 snakes eating in the wild! Very good picture from a boat with a cell phone, that's for sure.

It was probably a dead fish because I snake that size can't catch a live fish that size!

Took a hike in the Busse Woods forest preserve Sunday where there has been a heron rookery for several years. Two years ago had Great Blues nesting there and last year White Egrets. After going around the whole pond, we discovered it was a very old beaver pond with some a small, very fresh mini-dam. Beautiful area. Took lots of pictures. The rookery is right next to I-90! Take you there sometime if you want.

Guys thanks for the comments, I just noticed them. That night when we got off the lake we had a local look at the photo who was absolutely convinced it was a Copperhead but you guys certainly could be correct that it was a water snake. About 10 minutes after we took this photo (with my Blackberry Torch), and while fishing in the same cove, a snake approached our boat IN the water and was extremely interested in my partner's basket of fish hanging over the side of the boat. We finally got it to leave but it was eventful and, needless to say, we got out of that cove in a hurry. I didn't even realize a snake would feed on fish so the whole scenario was just super cool to witness and I am thankful Dale shared the photo with his readers. Btw, this is the 2nd year in a row we have had experiences with snakes on Mark Twain Lake in Missouri. Last Spring while fishing the same lake we watched a Turkey Buzzard grab a water snake out of the water in front of our boat and also got some awesome photo's of that experience. Thanks again guys.

Ron Siwinski
Village Sportsmen's Club
Alsip, Illinois

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 13, 2012 3:47 PM.

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