View Full Version : Stepped on a Copperhead Last Night

07-22-2010, 08:20 AM
My fiancee and I went to Miss Lilly's in townsend for dinner last night then I did something I hardly ever do and took her fishing with me. She doesn't have a license so she just followed along taking in the scenery along laurel creek road while I fishing some pools along the west prong near where it joins with laurel creek there. Fished up till dark and not much action. I started with a TN wulff that wasn't working and so I switched to a yellow neversink (got one on this) then a yellow stimulator (nothing) and then when it was pretty much getting dark i switched to a BHPT and got a nicer albeit little bow on that. I fish that same stretch about once a month and this was the worst fishing since March probably. I never even got a strike on the stimulator in a pool where I always see action. I need to get a thermometer I wonder if it was just too warm. The recent rains in Knoxville hadn't hit as much up there either as the water was still down some.

By this time it was getting pretty dark so I stopped fishing and we were under the bridge on laurel creek rd where it crosses the west prong. I had a single headlamp in my pack and gave it to Amanda since she had been so patient tagging along and all I figured I could see well enough to make out the little path up to the truck. We were standing out in the creek at this time and got out to find the path. She was behind me with the light on the path. I could make out the trail but that was it and so I walked on and she yelled "You just stepped on a snake!".

She had the light on it and sure enough there was an agitated copperhead in the trail now moving off to the side. Didn't get a picture of it cause it was so dark but I have encountered copperheads before it had prominent wide lighter yellow colored bands looking down from above with thin brown bands between which is the opposite of northern water snakes since the brown in them is the prominent band. The snake was ok it moved off the trail after striking at my reel where I was prodding it along. Amanda was a little freaked out then as we made it back to the truck. She explained to me that it was curled up in the trail and when I stepped on it the snake didn't strike but just looked like it was a bit stunned haha. I did have my Korkers on and the snake was only about 18 inches long so I am guessing that even if it had struck it probably wouldn't have gotten through my boot. When I stepped on it I just figured it was a root or stick is all I really felt.

It did make me wonder how many other snakes I have stepped on at night :eek:.
The heat seems to have the snakes out from cover more right now be careful when fishing.

07-22-2010, 12:01 PM
Hate em Hate em Hate em.

Took my son to Camp # 18 last weekend and fished W Prong on Sat. After fishing awhile we were walking along the creek when I stepped up on a rock adjancet to an exposed root wad. For no real reason I looked down and there goes a snake down the side of the rock and into the root wad. Don't ask me what kind. All I know is I am convinced he was poisonous and went under the root wad to come out another hole in an attempt to out flank me and attack. Of course I set the good example and freaked out, said some things that I probably shouldn't have and amused my son to no end. Of course whats the big deal he says. I just muttered back that God put on their belly for a reason.

07-22-2010, 01:00 PM
I noticed that every time I run up on a snake all the roots and sticks look like a snake for a while aftward. Hoosier how was the fishing up above cs 18 and how far did you go up? I love that area just up above the campsite. Were there a lot of people at the campsite? How was the water level?

07-22-2010, 02:37 PM
Surpisingly when we got there @ 1-2 PM there was no one there. We had pick of the place. We didn't go too far, no more than about 1/2 mile. My son is only 8 so it was a little slow going. He did most of the fishing and he wanted to hit every seam with several drifts. We had alot of splashes and some hook ups. I'll say about 10 landed. He is getting the cast and drift down but still slow on setting. Otherwise we would have been in the 20's, so I thought the fishing was good, especially considering the temps. We used a yellow elk hair. I am convince that a dropper would have done well. After dinner we went downstream of the camp and came back up. We just went barely below the most downstream site and came back through the camp site stretch. Again a lot of strikes and about 6 hook ups/landed. Most in the 6 inch range.

Later that evening a group of three showed up and another father/son tandem came in. The forth site sat empty.

Water was low compared to spring time but but by no means real skinny. I noticed it more at night when the sound of the river wasn't as loud while I was laying in the tent. The fish were definitely concentrated in the faster water and right where the riffles were flowing out.

07-22-2010, 04:25 PM
Awesome. It's amazing how sometimes they can seem really agitated while other times they're mellow as can be. I've seen lots of snakes in the Park, and I've always had good luck with them being chill. My girlfriend once stepped right over a rattler when walking in front of me. It had already been stepped over by another friend and it decided to lift his head up and "sniff" around a bit. When Sara stepped over it, her boot knocked him in the side of the head, and he just kept chilling like it wasn't a big deal.

Anyway, glad that turned into a good story and not an ER adventure!

07-22-2010, 06:41 PM
I always look at the ground in front of me, always look where I place my hands when climbing. Stangely, with all the times in the Park, I have only seen three snakes, one was a rattler. Actually, I'm more concerned about people than snakes.

07-22-2010, 07:05 PM
Hoosier that is awesome your son is fishing up there at that age and it sounds like you guys did great.

Carlito man that is a better story than mine your girlfriend kicked a rattler in the head lol I love it. Yeah the ones I have run across so far at least don't seem super aggressive. That copperhead had been stepped on and I used my rod end to scoot him off the trail. I poked the reel at him a couple of times and only then did he strike at it.

07-23-2010, 05:15 PM
I always look at the ground in front of me, always look where I place my hands when climbing. Stangely, with all the times in the Park, I have only seen three snakes, one was a rattler. Actually, I'm more concerned about people than snakes.

I would find it unusual if I didn't see at least three snakes in one day.

08-02-2010, 10:54 PM
Living on Bluff Mountain, we have to be very careful where we put our hands in the summer months. Usually we see quite a few copperheads in the area. My wife stepped on one last summer walking on our road at night. Shocked the copperhead as much as my wife. Which brings me to the reason I decided to post.

A few years ago, I saw some crazy scientists/naturalists on Discovery Channel going through the woods testing a theory. They placed a boot on a plaster leg and a glove on a plaster hand. They proceeded to scour the woods for copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. When they found them, they place "stepped" on them with the fake leg. Then they tried to "grab" them with the fake hand. Each time they stepped on them, the snakes did not strike. However, the moment the hand got close, wham! It was quite intersting.

So.. if you must... step on them but don't grab them.

08-03-2010, 02:35 PM

If I'm not mistaken, the gentleman who conducted that testing is Whit Gibbons, a professor of ecology at University of Georgia. When I worked for a newspaper on the coast of S.C. a few years ago, I had the chance to meet him at the Edisto Serpentarium. He was doing research on different types of snake-proof chaps with timber rattlers to see if they would bite through the material when they struck. Long story short, they pulled the rattlers out of their cages and enticed them to strike the material.

Anyway, it was really interesting hearing him talk about his research and what all they came up with for that show. He also wrote a book or paper about his findings, but the name slips my mind.