Most fishermen, from beginners to experienced anglers, will have some great stories of crazy things they have caught while fishing.
Many of the best fishing stories involve strange animals, birds, or even innocent bystanders. Some involve other anglers and some of the scariest involve snakes or snapping turtles. Then again, tell the guy trying to calm an angry bird that a snake is scarier.
With so many great stories to choose from, picking the 10 craziest was almost impossible. In the end, here are the stories that made the final cut.
1. Hooked a boat
One unlikely story centers around an afternoon trip to troll live shrimp off of the west coast of Florida. With the line far out behind the boat, another motor boat sped by unknowingly running over the line and bait.
Somehow in the excitement, the line wrapped around the other boat's prop and the reel started screaming. A quick grab for a knife got the line cut just before the rod took off as well. Not too many people can say they caught a boat.
2. A crocodile in England?
When asked what his craziest catch ever was, Regular Rod told about a crocodile in 1969, which "was immediately donated to the local Zoo (Riber Zoo) and kindly collected by a nice young lady from their reptile department, who confirmed it was a crocodile and not an alligator. It took a Matuka style fly (Ace of Spades) on a size 8 longshank Mustad hook and it weighed just over 8 pounds."
3. Buzzed by bats
Many fly fishermen have some strange stories of things that should not eat artificial flies. Bats, on the other hand, make a little bit of sense. Flying around the stream in the late evening and feasting on the same insects as the trout the fishermen are trying to catch, every once in a while a bat mistakes an angler's fly for the real deal.
Here is one from Mike Wilson in the Great Smoky Mountains. Thanks to a good leather glove, the bat was carefully released without any long-term damage.
There are lots of great caught-people stories out there. Many of them happened in the course of fly fishing and one happened to me. When I was learning to fly fish as a kid, I was casting downstream just below a low head dam. My back cast had to be angled up and over the dam. After several successful casts, I felt the fly catch and started jerking. After several attempts to free the fly by yanking hard, I finally turned around to see where it was caught.
I was horrified to see my younger sister standing there twitching with a grimace on her face every time I yanked.
"Why didn't you say something?" was all I could think to ask. To this day, that stands as my largest catch.
Perhaps my favorite caught-person story came from a gentleman who caught a wife. Yes, you read that correctly. One day while fishing, Yean Tan explained how he foul-hooked a lady onlooker.
He says that "she was screaming and all that. She later became my wife...now that's a catch!" I would have to agree.
5. Angry birds looking for lunch
Lots of people had great caught-seagull stories. Perhaps my favorite was this short but hilarious version from Caleb Duff.
"I hooked a seagull trolling for barracuda, and it was fish on for a few seconds until I saw the gull creeping toward the boat."
I can only imagine the shock experienced by both angler and bird. I wish there was video evidence of the surprise on the angler's face!
Another angler, Eric Knutson, reports that "I have caught two seagulls. One while casting spoons for salmon on Lake Michigan and one while fly fishing for smallies on the Milwaukee River. Both experiences were very intense."
These birds seem to be caught quite often by anglers fishing off of piers, at least based on my research. There are plenty of good pelican stories out there as well. One of the more impressive involves a pelican that survived a successful catch and release that was caught on video!
7. Want to risk some fingers?
A young boy told the story of a large snapping turtle he caught on a creek in Oklahoma. "I was just pumping the spinner bait up and down off of the bottom when suddenly it felt like I hooked a monster."
The strange thing was that the monster did not make any hot runs like a normal fish. When he got the snapping turtle in close enough to identify, he promptly cut the line instead of doing battle with such a fearsome-looking creature.
8. Speedster seal
One angler, Charles Olsen, told me a story about a friend of his who was fishing a river between an inshore lake and the sea.
He said that "he used a big tube and suddenly there was a seal on! It took line as fast you can imagine until there was so much drag that the line broke. He was understandably shaken when he called me on the phone."
I can only imagine how traumatic that must have been.
9. The case of the lost equipment...
This story comes to us from Walter S. Krane who was bass fishing with his brother on Saguaro Lake in Arizona.
According to Walter, his brother "was regularly nailing nice bass to five pounds. l didn't get a single strike all morning even though I was using the same lure, but l did land four, yep, four rods and reels, not all in the same spot but miles apart in the lake."
What are the odds of that happening even once, much less four times?
10. Snakes alive!
While bass fishing in Florida, Mike Head caught two cottonmouths on back-to-back casts. Both snakes hit while underwater.
He says he promptly "left the area," and I don't blame him!