When you’re fighting a fish on rod and reel, it’s easy to get distracted. You’re thinking about one thing and one thing only: Getting the fish in the boat. And sometimes that’s best accomplished by reaching down and lipping the fish with your bare hands.
There are times when you’ll want to think twice before doing that, however. The rivers, lakes and saltwater environs of the Western Hemisphere are home to many fish that have mouths studded with row after row of wicked teeth.
Lip one of these toothy swimmers and you may find yourself getting stitched up in the emergency room. In fact, a bad encounter with one of these flesh eaters could leave you minus a finger or two…or even a hand.
Beware, these bad ass fish bite.
- At first glance, the bowfin looks pretty harmless. Its teeth, which are immovable outgrowths of its jawbones, aren’t readily apparent. But if you examine a bowfin’s mouth up close—if you’re stupid enough—you’ll get the definite impression that, given a chance, it would chew your arm off. Nicknames include mudfish, dogfish and grinnel, but more vulgar monikers are often used by frazzled fishermen with broken lines, mauled lures and shattered poles.
Writer Jim Spencer gave a vivid account of one bowfin encounter.“It was possibly the most violent strike I’ll ever see in my life, regardless of the species,” he said. “No white marlin ever slashed a trolled skipjack any harder than when that grinnel hit my fast-moving spinner. The water around the lure erupted like a miniature volcano … I set the hook purely out of fright.” Don’t land one with a lip-lock. If you do, there’s a good probability you’ll come away missing a digit.
About the Author
With a resumé listing more than 3,800 magazine, newspaper and website articles about fishing, hunting, wildlife and conservation, Keith “Catfish” Sutton of Alexander, Ark., has established a reputation as one of the country’s best-known outdoor writers. In 2012, he was enshrined in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Communicator. The 12 books he’s written are available through his website.