One young angler never expected to hook the animal he reeled in from an Oklahoma fishing hole this month.
It was just another fishing trip for Oklahoma teen Billy Doty and his father. They often took their chances fishing Bird Creek in a spot called Big Hole. But all that changed one April afternoon when Doty hooked what he thought was a snake. When Doty reeled in his catch, he discovered he’d caught a three-foot eel. Yes, an eel in Oklahoma.
Apparently, while it’s rare to find an eel in Oklahoma waterways, it’s not completely unheard of. According to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Fisheries biologist Josh Johnston, the American eel spawns and hatches in the Sargasso Sea, 2,000 miles away Big Hole. But female eels swim north, as far as they can go for 10 years, when they mature enough to spawn. Then they head back to their place of origin south of Bermuda. To reach Doty’s fishing hole, the eel he caught had to make it through 17 locks and dams.
“They’ve been seen doing really strange things, like climbing up concrete walls and actually getting out into wet grass, and on a really damp night they’ll get into wet grass and travel a long way just to get above that impediment,” Johnston told Oklahoma’s Channel 6 News.
Watch the video to learn more about Doty’s surprise catch:
Ultimately, Doty tossed the eel back into Bird Creek. We can only wonder if she’ll make it back to the Sargasso Sea to lay her eggs.