Fish Stories

(True accounts of wildlife encounters, collected from the OWP mailing list.)

Had a great run on the Little Mo yesterday, 48'' on the gage at the 84 bridge when we put-in, it was big and pushy but everybody in the group had a great run. When we ran Accellerator we had a weird wildlife encounter. As the lead boat got about half-way through, right in the worst part of the rapid, a six-point buck leaps from the right bank and lands just inches from the boat, then makes a perfect ferry across very fast water and leaps out of the river and takes off. I guess all the noise from the river allowed us to get so close the deer freaked and bailed into the river, but it's hard to imagine he did'nt see the boat he almost jumped into. Makes you wonder what it would be like to share a boat with 125 lbs. of flailing hooves and thrashing antlers.
- Mark Davis

I once nearly had to portage a cow.  We were on the Boxley to Ponca stretch of the Buffalo.  In a particularly narrow spot, a cow was standing in the river, blocking the whole thing.  We hollered at it to mooooooove out of the way as we approached it rapidly (NPI).  The cow just looked at us until we were a few yards away.  I was just about to make an attempt to "lean into the beef" to avoid this Holstein hazard, but at the last moment she moved.  Anyway, the thought of having nearly been swept into a bovine strainer may seem udderly ridiculous to you, but I still have nightmares about comming around a blind corner and having to take the bull by the horns - litterally. Be careful out there...
- Bill Herring

Whilst sitting in an eddy on the Middle fork of the White, waiting to attempt a stern squirt, I was attacked by a bass.  Yes, I said a bass.  The fish leaped out of the water, and proceded to bite me on the chin. It then landed on my skirt and flopped around untill I was able to grab hold.  While this may seem unbelieveable, it was witnessed by both Howell Cox and John Taylor. On Tuesday, I went to Richland with Kevin Fendley, Ryan J.  Steve McV, Howell, and Pat Z. Ryan interrupted my story about this man attacking bass, and said that the same thing had happened to him.  After talking about it, we realized that both attacks had happened in the same eddy, and presumably by the same fish.
- Zach Smith

Another true fish attack story. Last fall, I did a stern squirt entering the eddy by the benches at the Tulsa Wave. I was in a Sleek and sometimes even old fat guys get great squirts in Sleeks especially on well definined eddy lines. Well this time the bow went vertical and about the time I started to feel really good about my vertical squirt (Steve Plisco was right behind me) -- all hell broke loose. The Sleek made moves I had not seen before.  Eventually the boat went out of control and I had to roll. The roll was not a pretty sight, but I finally got one side to work. The Sleek's low stern always give one some excitement on a busy eddy line, and my El Tigre was going bananas. I got the boat around and close enought to the bank to catch hold of a rock. The stern was still going crazy and water was being sprayed everywhere.

At this point, Steve Plisco eddyed out about 5 feet from me. His eyes were about the size of a coffee cup.  All he could say was Damn, Damn, I never seen anything like this. About this time I was leaning so far forward on my bow that there was no way I could get out.   I definitely wanted out of the boat, but judging from the noise from my stern and Steve's reactions - I wanted to keep my head as far away from my stern as I could. After what seemed hours, and me making a lot of nasty remarks about my buddy Plisco's lack of help - I was able to sneak a peak looking down and under one of my arm pits (still afraid of what ever was back there).  All I could see was a long body coiled around my stern thrashing around like a egg beater.  I immediately thought - Snake - a really big SNAKE.  Because we normally see several good sized snakes that live in the rocks at the head of the eddy and we see them in the water all the time. I think this was the time I have been most scared in my kayak.

I was really pissed at Steve cause he was still laughing and saying Damn - I can't believe this.  While I was in a no win pin situation between a Godzilla sized reptile and the shore - I had lost my paddle by this time and had nothing to protect myself with as my buddy had obviously lost his will to help me escape from my boat. Finally Steve said, GAR. I didn't believe him till he got out of his boat and held my boat's stern while I got out. What happened was a four foot Gar fish had zeroed in on my stern grab loop and went through the loop until he was about half in and half way out. This ole boy was kicking like a bucking horse in a rodeo.

Steve and I both managed to get ahold of the Gar and were able to work him back out of the loop. We turned him loose and he shot upstream like a bullet.  Apparently none the worse for the incident.  Imagine the stories he told later that evening. It took me about 15 minutes and half a gatorade bottle to get my composure back.  I felt a little sheepish about being scared of a Gar, but at the time Mr Gar looked like the biggest ole cotten mouth snake I had seen up to that time. If any of you guys ever come to the Tulsa Wave during Gar season, Tape down those floppy grab loops - else you might get more strern action than you expect.

Anybody else got a better fish story?
- Dave "Silver Gar" Reid