Not every fishing trip goes as planned. These fishermen share the odd things they’ve caught in the water. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
Was It A Crime Scene?
“One of my friends was fishing about 200 yards off of the coast in Texas. When he pulled up the anchor, he noticed something hanging off the anchor. On closer inspection, it was a human femur.
Now, back in the day, the mafia did have a reputation for making people disappear in those waters, so he initially thought it was from one of those crimes.
After taking the bone to an archaeologist at the local university, it was determined that the coloration and coral growth on the bone meant it had been in the water for around 500 years. I don’t know what was done with the bone after that.
The best I’ve ever done is the front halves of a fish after a shark had eaten the back half. Mind you, this is while wade fishing so it’s a little disconcerting at first.”
The Magic Of The Great Lakes
“One summer, I was fishing with my father and his coworker on one of the Great Lakes, because we were invited up to stay on a boat for a weekend. Who doesn’t want that?
So we fished the first day full of uneventful catchings of some tiny walleye and a few lake trout. The next day was the kicker.
We were all fishing off the side of the boat, trying to catch enough walleye for a good dinner. We had brought in a few legal ones for the eventual feast. Since we wanted to up the haul, we had a few rods apiece running with some crazy 3-5 hooked jigs and baited with some delicious nightcrawlers. We were catching all dem fish.
As the day wore on, I was having some trouble retying a hook to the line, so I asked my dad to come over and give me a hand with the hook. When he came over, we were messing with it for a couple of minutes when we heard a ploop sound.
‘Heck,’ said my dad.
It appeared three of the rods we were running had all gone kaput into the lake.
After a bit of cursing and eventual acceptance that the rods were lost to the gods of the HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior Great Lakes), we borrowed some from my dad’s friend. Once re-rigged and ready to go, we had the rods back in the water. After about half an hour, we were watching them like hawks do tiny little prey birds.
About an hour after the ordeal, we were not having much luck, but some here and there with the walleye coming in sparingly. All of a sudden, a zinger hit the line and we rushed to get the pole.
My dad had trouble reeling it saying, ‘There must be a fish all the way down the multi-jigged line.’
The first thing that pulled over the railing was a decent walleye, not much to look at, however, the second item was much crazier than the first. It was one of the other poles. As the line got pulled in more and more, the other two poles were on the end.
Flabbergasted, we chalked it up as a rand act of mercy from the gods of the HOMES and docked for the night. Then we ate the best walleye you ever had.”
First Fishing Trip With Dad
“The first time I went fishing with my dad and brother, we were standing at the end of the pier looking like dolts not knowing what we were doing. A nice guy on the opposite end of the pier came over and gave us a hand setting up and gave us some tips on casting off and other essentials. Then left us to it.
After a while, my brother realized he had a bite and reeled it in. He pulled up a really ugly-looking fish and was about to grab it off the line when the guy who had been helping us previously stopped him.
He shouted across the pier, ‘DON’T TOUCH THAT!’
He came over and explained to us that it was a Lesser Weever which has poisonous spines on it. He just cut the line and kicked it back alive before explaining how you couldn’t kill them in case they wash up on the beach.
That saved us a trip to the emergency room!”
Everyone Was Told To Leave Except For Them
“We were fishing down in Southern Maryland at what is called the ‘Target Ships’ in the Chesapeake Bay. The ships are old navy vessels that have been set on concrete pillars so they remain above water. The military uses them for radar testing and test bombing runs.
It was about eight years ago during the summer. We were all on my dad’s Grady White fishing for croaker and flounder right near the ships. There were about 20 other boats in the area. The coast guard was patrolling the area, doing inspections on boats. Sure enough, the coast guard pulled up to my dad’s boat. They were on a big vessel with about 15 trainees. The officer and a trainee got onto our boat and started performing the inspection with the help of my dad.
Suddenly, my rod got very heavy.
The officer stopped his inspection and said, ‘Go ahead son, reel it up. Let’s see what you got.’
So I reeled and reeled. To all of our amazement, I caught an unexploded test bomb. The best way I could describe what it looked like was it had a cylindrical diamond shape to it, attached to neon green stabilizers, and it was 12 to 14 inches long, maybe four inches in diameter at its thickest part. Well, now the officer, the trainee, and the entire boat of coast guards had just witnessed what I brought out of the water. The trainee on our boat leaped to his boat, and they hauled away with their sirens on. He left the one officer on our boat. I was ordered to freeze and not make a move.
The coast guard got on our Very High Frequency (VHF) radio and told all the boats in the area to leave the target ships. After about 20 minutes of me sitting here, with this bomb on my line, the area was finally cleared away. The officer ordered my father to put the boat in drive, achieve a good bit of speed, and don’t stop. So my dad does as he was ordered.
He put the boat in gear, and we were rolling about 15 to 20 knots away from the ship. The officer brought out a knife, cut my line, and ordered my dad to just throttle the boat and get away as fast as he can.
Needless to say, it did not detonate when it hit the bottom of the bay. We took the officer, who was clearly shaken, back to his ship. I know it’s hard to believe this story without proof, but we were unable to get a picture of it, we tried, but the coast guard officer was adamant about us getting the heck out of there as quickly as possible.”
A Stingray Encounter… Again
“My brother and I do a lot of fishing. Him especially. Between us, we have caught the same fish multiple times, birds, turtles, people (unknown tourists getting too close on an overhead cast), a sea lion, octopus, clams, crabs, and a lobster. But by far the most memorable was catching the stingray that almost killed my brother.
He pulled up a ray that was only about a foot long and was trying to unhook it. It went scorpion tail on him and jabbed its barb directly into an artery in his hand. When it came out, it turned into a gore concert; the blood began squirting profusely out of his hand. He was kinda wasted, so he was just kinda in shock and didn’t know what to do.
Luckily, my buddies got him down the dock and into their car to go to the ER. He went into shock in the car and blacked out. He lost consciousness and peed himself. When they got him to the ER, the doctor stitched him up and gave him a bunch of medications when he left that evening. He required a few surgeries on his hand and now he still has a gnarly scar.
Flash forward a couple of years, we were surf fishing in the same spot next to the pier he got stung at. He stepped on a stingray and it hit him in his Achilles’ tendon. I got him to the beach where he promptly lost consciousness once again due to the stingray toxin. I managed to get him up and carried him on my back about a half-mile to the parking lot.
That guy has the worst luck in the world sometimes.”
“Last Father’s Day, I was asked what I wanted to do and I chose to spend the day surf-fishing. So off we went to the beach near the town I lived in.
The day started off with plenty of action, even if they were catfish. After a while, that began to get old. Then my son caught a small flounder, which was exciting and gave us all new hope. After unhooking his flounder, my son cast back to the same spot, which proved even luckier this time. When he reeled in his line there was a dollar bill on the hook.
The thrill of catching the flounder was nothing compared to this. My future father-in-law acted doubtfully. He thought we were pulling his leg about my son catching a dollar. Our enthusiasm must finally have convinced him though because he rigged up a double-hook leader with treble hooks on the snaps and began casting into my son’s lucky hole-and he wasn’t using any bait.
He and my son worked the hole hard, but all they dragged out was a T-shirt, which they romanticized into a story about sunken treasure and dead men.
My father-in-law gave up the idea of catching his fortune and put away his snatch hook rig. My son thoughtfully marked the spot with driftwood and debris so we could find our way back to the money hole on another day.
Next time maybe we’ll use heavier tackle in hopes of getting a Ben Franklin instead of a George Washington.”
The Strong Smell
“I was fishing on the Smith River near the California and Oregon border. I had already caught two nice salmons that morning. Around midday, I was fishing in a deep hole when I snagged something. I thought I snagged a log. As I pulled the line, it came up slowly. I figured I caught a tree branch underwater or something like that.
I decided to pull real hard and it snapped my line. As I pulled again what I was snagged on, it finally broke free of what it was stuck on. Then I saw it rising fast. It was not until it was about a foot from the water when I realized what it was.
As soon as it breached the surface of the water, I wanted to die. This was a dead deer. It must have been stuck on something underwater because it was all bloated and clearly full of gas. The smell made me want to cut off my nose. There were about six other people fishing that hole. Within five minutes later, there was not a human near that part of the river.
There are not enough English words to describe how awful it smelled. I had to cut my line. A great day of fishing was ruined by that bloated Bambi corpse.”
“It Started To Sink Our Boat”
“One time when I was pretty young, my brother, dad, and I were crabbing somewhere in the Chesapeake Bay. We were using a Trott line, which is a rope with bait tied along with it, that you drop in the water, let it sit awhile, and then use a winch to pull it up.
Anyway as we were winching the rope up, the winch started struggling. The rope sometimes gets caught on something underwater. It slowly kept pulling and it finally pulled up a giant airplane wing.
This was a lot of weight and started to sink our boat, so my dad quickly cut the rope and we went home.”
Uhm, Where Was The Rest Of His Body?
“The most interesting thing I ever caught was half a fish. I was surf fishing in North Carolina with a couple of friends, and the fishing that day sucked. We’d been out there about an hour and none of us had gotten so much as a nibble.
Finally, it happened. The tip of my pole dipped and then bowed a bit. It didn’t look like it was a big fish, but anything was better than nothing. I started reeling it in, but after a few seconds, the pulling stopped.
Well heck, I guess he got off the hook. The only darn bite we got all day and he got away. But I should check my bait anyway, so I kept on reeling. When it got in, I discovered the fish hadn’t gotten off after all. He’d just had his bottom end bitten off by something presumably far larger.
I just left him on the hook and cast him out again, hoping the big boy could come back for the other half.”
No Harm Done Or So He Thought
“When I was a kid, my old man and I caught an otter while seining. Seining is basically like taking a volleyball net, flipping it upside down, and walking through the water with one guy on each end. Then you drag it up onshore. The otter was a juvenile and our two dogs were swimming around playing with this thing. It would float in the water until one of the dogs got too close, then he would dive under and swim away. He’d pop up right behind the dog and make a loud chuffing sound. The dogs would go crazy. They played like this for about 15 minutes while we dragged the seine.
One of the dogs ended up chasing him into the seine and we dragged it up onshore. The otter was not amused. This thing went ballistic thrashing and biting. My dad held the dogs and told me to let it out. I was scared to death. I flipped the net open and the thing took a run at me. I fell trying to get away from it and it beelined for the water. No harm done.
When I got older, the old man got a boat we could take offshore. We were trolling when a flock of Gannets came through and started diving on our baits. They do this periodically and there’s not a lot you can do. They never got hooked until one time.
Gannets are giant seabirds. They can have a five to six feet wingspan and are scary up close. He hooked himself in the wing somehow and set the hook trying to fly away. I grabbed the rod and flew this bird like a kite. He’d try to fly and pinwheel into the ocean. I dragged him as fast as I could so we wouldn’t drown him or hurt him any worse than he already was. I got him up next to the boat and the old man tossed a towel on him and wrapped him up.
We covered his head and everything but the hooked wing so he couldn’t bite us. I held the bird while the old man dehooked him. The wing was fine, not broken, but just had a little hole in it from the hook. The old man got on the far side of the boat and told me to let it go. This bird was huge. My game plan was to toss it away from me over the water and hold on to the towel. I executed my plan and this giant bird wheeled around and bit my outstretched hand. My dad was rolling around because he was laughing so hard.”
“It Was Six Inches From Me”
“I was fishing at one of my grandpa’s ponds and was having a successful day. I had about 10 smallmouth bass on a stringer, which is a metal piece connected to a rope that you can put through the gills of the fish you catch. This way they can stay in the water whilst being anchored to the ground.
When I threw a line out and looked over at the stringer, it was jerking back and forth tremendously. So I walked over and picked up the stringer to see if it was just a strong fish on the stringer trying to swim. It wasn’t a fish, it was a water moccasin (cottonmouth snake) biting one of the fish, trying to pull it away.
When I pulled the stringer up, I was sitting down on the pond bank with the stringer in between my legs. So when I pulled it up, the snake was about six inches away from my groin area. The reason it came so close to me was because the weight of all those fish and the snake forced me to pull it fast and hard. I quickly jumped up while screaming like a little girl and got my semi-auto 22 weapon and rapidly fired about five rounds in the snake’s general direction. I actually hit the snake.
That was one of the scariest things ever.”
What Was On The Deck?!
“Every year I do a long-range trip looking for Tuna, Yellowtail, and Dorado out of San Diego. Normally, it’s a two and half-day trip.
We were kelp paddy fishing. It’s basically when pieces of kelp have been broken off and are floating in the currents. These hold fish in the open ocean, so we troll around and look for the paddies. It’s exciting fishing.
We slid up on a fairly large paddy that was just loaded with runt yellowtail. Everyone dropped a line in and they instantly fish on for 22 anglers. Yellowtail (eight to twelve pounds) flying over the rail. It’s not uncommon to catch 50-60 fish on a single stop.
Well, I was taking one of my runt yellowtails to my bag and once I placed it in the bag and pinned another bait on, I turned around and saw a three-foot mako shark on the deck. I looked up and my buddy had caught it while reeling in small yellowtail. We looked at the tail of the yellowtail and it was just ripped to shreds. The mako held on all the way up to the boat deck.
The mako was released.”
A 30-Pound What?!
“I was mangrove snapper fishing in Key Largo and we pulled up to this patch reef that was loaded. It was Yellowtail and mangrove snapper galore. We were about to leave, but we each wanted to catch one more. I kept catching these godawful grunts that were way bigger than any I had seen before while my buddies were pulling in grouper and snapper. We were fishing 8-pound mono with a 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. To all the fishing guys out there, this is important.
I was reeling in my last fish, no idea what it was, but I knew it was small. Then all of a sudden, the line screamed off the tiny spinning reel.
I said to my friend, ‘Hey, I got something else on here!’
He didn’t understand that it was something big and said, ‘Yea, whatever.’
But when he came over and saw my reel, he dropped his rod and we began chasing the fish. The line could snap easily on a big fish with a line that light and no steel leader, especially if it was a toothy fish. So after a minute or so of being unable to tighten the drag, the fish jumped, and it was a 30-pound barracuda. It had swallowed whatever snapper I had on my line at the beginning.
I really wanted to catch it. So we ended up chasing it and boating it after like 15 minutes. Since the hook was right in the corner of the mouth, its teeth didn’t cut the line. That was a fun day. Not sure if I broke any line class record or not, probably not though. Still, it was an amazing accomplishment.”
“I Went White”
“I once caught the tail part of a dead, rotting dolphin. I was six years old and my uncle told me it was a ‘special fish’ and that we should let it go back into the ocean. He took the line off me and released the decomposing hunk of flesh back into the sea. A couple of years later, I was told what I’d actually caught. I went white and nearly threw up.
Once when I went vacationed on an island, I heard how a teenage islander had gone out kayaking in a storm and had gone missing. We were there on holiday at the time and there was a massive search party out looking for him.
Now, the islands were an archipelago around a sort of basin. This fisherman was out in the middle of the basin about a week and a half after this kid went missing. He saw this weird scum on the top of the water near his boat and went to take a look. He put his line down just out of habit and it snagged on something. The water was kind of murky so he couldn’t see much until he’d dragged up his line. It was this kid’s body. Now, the ocean does weird things to a corpse, especially after that amount of time.
The family ended up having to identify the kid’s body by his tattoos.”