Encounters with animals whilst fishing.


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Horses, cows, bulls, dogs, swans, ducks etc . We've all met up with them when fishing, what are your stories?


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About 3 years ago I fished the Witham at dog duke in the summer and had never seen so many grass snakes in one day they were swimming in the river and sunning there self’s on the bank I must have seen 15 to 20 that day

My mate thinks I’m mad because In the winter I always take half a pint of maggot for the robins who sit on the side of the bait box and help there self and sometimes will take from your hand on one of the fishery’s I go to.


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I once had an unnerving incident with some bulls!
I was roaving along a small'ish river where I have sole permission covering about three miles of bank and you never see a soul because there are no paths etc. Anyhow, i'd pretty much had enough angling for the day and was only about three quarters of a mile upstream from my car. I dropped into a swim on a decent sized bend and was catching a few fish when for some inate reason I turned round and my eyes met with a fat beefer bull only about 6ft away from me! It didn't look like an old one or a particularly large one but it was actually sneaking up on me and as i'd turned round it froze holding it's front leg up just as a lion does when a gazell lifts up it's head to look round whilst grazing....disturbed:.
I stood eye to eye with it for moment before charging at it to frighten it away. I got within several feet of it before it reluctantly turned round and walked off bellowing repeatadly. I laughed to myself thinking " sneaky b@$tard was actually creeping up on me then" !
I proceeded to fish and after a couple of trotts through the swim I decided to walk on back to the car and maybe have a trott or two as and when I came across a likely looking spot.. Anyhow, as I walked downstream I could still hear that bull bellowing, " sneaky b@$tard thing" went through my mind again and it made me smile again lol.
I hadn't walked very far, maybe a hundred or more yards when I stopped to have a trott through a super looking spot. To fish there it meant walking between a large bank of nettles and the river so it was a sort of tight fit. I think i'd had one or two trotts though when I could feel vibrations under foot and hear a sort of rumbling sound?
I couldn't tell where the noise was coming from because the stretch of river was tidal and had high floodwater defence bankings.
As I wound in and my hook swung to hand I looked back over my shoulder besause I could hear snorting and rumbling coming up the opposite side of the high bank.....that b@$tard fat little bull had been bellowing for it's bigger m8's and unbeleivably it had somehow told them where I was :nevreness:. These m8's of it's where seriously large dairy cattle bulls ( far worse than beef cattle bulls) and the main man had a large chain dangling and clanging from the ring in it's nose....ffs :help:.
I was born and brought up on a dairy farm and actually used to go and walk a herd of milkas back to the farm when I was 6 or 7yrs old, so i'm quite used to cattle etc and it's not a common thing for me to be worried about a few bovines.....in this case I was was! I could tell these bulls wanted to kill me and I looked at the river as a last resort of escape. I thought about my rod and what I would do with it if I was forced to jump in the river :eek:mg:.
Even the noise of the chain hanging from the huge bulls nose was intimidating and I had a feeling of numbness :numbness:.
I shouted at them and did a dummy run round the nettles which usually makes cattle turn and move off, not these things, they didn't even budge. I picked up an old fashioned heavy whisky bottle that had been left high and dry on an outgoing tide and threw it as hard as I could at the huge bull, the bottle hit it plumb in the centre of it's head and shattered into a million pieces and no word of a lie the bull didn't flich at all. Again I shouted at them and did a false charge but they weren't fazed. I decided to go for broke and try one full on attack and charged at them using my long alloy landing net staff as a spear and being as wound up as I was I think I would have carried on running at them until I hit them head on if they hadn't backed off just a few feet. I saw that bit of weakness in them and that was my que to try and put some distance between me and them. While they where thinking about what to do next I slithered away along the bank, keeping tight to the edge incase it came on top and I did have to jump in the river !
Luckily they didn't follow me and If i'm honest I was very releived....:tranquillity:.
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Some fifteen years ago now I fished the same river Chrissh but much further upstream near Grantham.
I went with a friend in his large estate car and we had permission to enter a farmyard right beside the river.
We had unloaded the car and had the luxury of fishing right there in the farmyard where we could see some really chunky river roach and a couple of big Barbel.
My friend had left the boot door of his estate wide open as it wasn't any further than fifteen or twenty paces away and an hour or two had passed when he returned to the car to retrieve his lunch only to find a large goat had taken up residence in the rear nd no amount of effort would make it vacate the place.
It was there right up to the time we had packed the tackle away and wanted to leave but it just would not leave and it being sunny and warm the car was smelling rather high.
Eventually one of the farm workers showed up and removed the animal, a job that took a lot of effort that left its mark in the cars interior.
The ruddy thing went mental and something I wouldn't like to have repeated on myself or anyone else-- crazey creature, quite insane!!


Senior Member
Apart from all the bird life which is so enjoyable I sometimes have the odd fox trot along the bank behind me. One chappie stops, looks at me, and then trots off. Not everyone's friend but they are impressive close up and in good nick..

Over the years many odd happenings, but none come close to the huge bull that held council in a field on the Thames at South Stoke (or was it Goring?) who, unlike others who have been quite benign, had it in his head that nobody was going to cross his field without a challenge. I was a very young chap so it was it the more terrifying to see a bull go from a standing start to some speed over 50 yds!

It changed my thinking around bulls and these days I give every one a wide berth!

ps Out walking once a got a little too close to a herd of cows with calves. I'd already walked past when the rumble of moving animal reached my ears. Only a stream (the one in Hambeden) saved me from a head to head, but I haven't move quicker since!!


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I once had a cow standing on my landing net while I was playing what turned out to be a double figure Barbel, no amount of shouting or thumping in the side would move it, I just had to wait until it lost interest in me.

Peter Jacobs

Staff member
Over theyears I have had many encounters with the wildlife, some quite beautiful andothers rather scary; one very early morning in the autumn at a lovely carp lake in the years when I’d doze with the bivvy doors tied back I awoke with a start to see a fox’s nose about 2 inches away from mine . . . . To this day I don’t knowif it was me or the fox that jumped higher, but from then onwards I would bringmy rods in at night and get few hours proper sleep, with the door zipped tightly shut.

Fishing a lot in Norway I would often come pretty close to Moose and once when fishing onmy own on a small river bout 20 kms from Oslo for Grayling and had got into anice rhythm of feeding, casting and trotting repeatedly when from the corner of my eye a Moose came down to the river not 10m from me, to drink. It was a large male and when he had slaked his thirst, he gave me a cursory look and wanderedback in to the woods. Only when you see them close up do you realise just how bloody big they are . . . .

In the southern States I had the occasional trip to spin for Bass and have had a fair few snakes (which I truly hate) slither past me and quite a few inquisitive raccoons showed an interest in my bag with my lunch in . . . . . many of the ‘coons in Mississippi and Texas are actually rabid so you don’t mess with them, they are easily scared too so a loud shout usuallygets rid of them.

In Canada when trout fishing in the wilderness I saw bears, on several occasions, but thankfully on the other side of the river to me so not close enough to be of concern, and twice I had an eagle dive to pick a fish from the surface, again within 10m of where I was stood.
To my mindbeing that close to nature is the very essence of fishing as in many places youjust never know what might pop up next.
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Keith M

Well-known member
Anglers who spend a lot of their time fishing in the late evenings and early mornings and also at night; see a lot of wildlife in and around rivers and lakes; far more than the average human does anyway.

heres just a few things that I have seen over the years whilst fishing:

One evening I was float fishing for Tench and Crucians on my local estate lake when I heard a noise behind me, and when I turned my head to look it was a fox just sitting there watching me fish, less than 20ft from me. After a few minutes it stood up and slowly wandered off along the bankside path and a few minutes later I heard a lot of commotion and squealing ducks so I imagine that it had probably caught its dinner.

Another time a mate and I were fishing quietly for Chub on a local stream and we heard a lot of commotion in a swim next to us and we saw a stoat dragging a rabbit out of the swim and into the deep undergrowth.

Back in the 80’s one place we fished was a lake not far from Dartford in Kent Which was literally overrun by Hedgehogs (fat chance of that nowerdays) and in the morning my mate awoke in his bivvie and reached under his bed for his frying pan only to find a hedgehog sleeping in it which had licked the pan clean and just curled up and fell asleep in it.

I remember waking up with a large rat sitting on my tacklebox just inches from my face eating my bait. And a big rat that tried to drag my loaf of bread into the undergrowth which just hissed at me when I tried to scare it off and retrieve my loaf.

I’ve seen a heron stalking fish around a lake with a jackdaw accompanying it ready waiting for the Heron to drop one of its fish.
I’ve also seen literally dozens of herons all nesting together in trees on an island at the Walthamstow reservoir complex..

I’ve disturbed an adder sleeping in the sun on the path around our lake; and I’ve seen lots of grass snakes swimming in lakes and rivers over the years searching for frogs etc.

Ive caught a terrapin hooked squarely in its mouth when trotting on a stream, and a pipistrelle bat that had hooked itself on a maggot which was dangling on line caught up in an overhead branch around our lake; which I managed to release.

And I’ve seen quite a few deer wandering next to rivers and lakes over the years (muntjac and red deer).

I could go on and on (and probably have) but these sort of things are fairly normal for a lot of anglers.

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Well-known member
If it was dry enough, the farmer let you drive across the fields to some good barbel swims on the Dove that I'd never have got near on foot. I spent the day tucked away at the bottom of the flood bank, with the car out of sight on the other side. The fields around were empty of man and beast. Looking back, I did maybe hear a few odd noises, but I thought nothing of it. When I packed up and topped the bank, this is what I saw: a dozen cows all looking at me with a "how d'you like that, mate" expression; a set of hubcaps lying near the wheels; wing mirrors at crazy angles, and every panel of the car pushed in so it looked like one of those planes that defeat radar. Like John Cleese about to beat up a car with a tree branch, I shouted, armed myself and rushed the cows. The futility of smacking a cow with a rod rest kicked in, and I stopped short, and they wandered off. Even with help from my bodywork repair savvy neighbour, the giant dents and creases couldn't be pulled out, and I had to trade the car in as I couldn't bear to look at it. I gave up on the stretch - the club gave it up a couple of years later - as it was a 30m drive, and you just never knew which field the cows would be in or would be moved to during the day. A couple of blokes used to surround their cars with metal stakes and put tape around them; they believed the cows wouldn't cross the tape. I had no wish to test the theory.

An encounter that cost me nothing but embarrassment involved a moorhen chick - that cutest of little waterfowl. Naturally, I was fishing from the public path side of a local nature reserve pond. And naturally it was a Sunday morning and the path was a stream of strollers and dog-walkers. When the float dipped - single caster on a 20, on the bottom in the 2' swim, several stopped to see what I'd caught. They were as surprised as I was to see a moorhen chick being wound, thrashing and squealing, across the surface. I landed the chick, fished it out of the net, and swiftly unhooked it (beak-hooked, luckily). But as I leaned down to put it back in the pond, it leapt from my hand and dropped straight in the keepnet, where it dived to the bottom, lost its sense of direction and I and everybody else watched the tiny stream of bubbles coming up. So, I pulled up the net, grabbed the chick for the second time, and put it back in the pond. Nobody said much, but I don't think I did much for the image of angling in the eyes of the dog-walkers and strollers.


I too have had some scary run ins with cows. Its easy to forget how dangerous they are.


About 3 years ago I fished the Witham at dog duke in the summer and had never seen so many grass snakes in one day they were swimming in the river and sunning there self’s on the bank I must have seen 15 to 20 that day
I witnessed a mass migration of snakes during a hot afternoon on the Trent a couple of years ago, once the first one had swam across there were many more and some actually got hit on the surface by Pike or Zander, almighty hits too.

Never seen anything like it before or since...

I've had a cow come crashing down from a high bank and landing right in front of me in my swim, I could hear the tearing of grass as it munched its way closer to the edge before falling about eight feet to the water.

Mink are fairly common in my part, especially the ones which will walk over your feet rather than go around you.

Many years ago a friend guested me on British Sugar's lakes at Muskham and we ended up doing a tackle laden charge followed by a head first dive over a gate to escape a very angry bull which was, when we set out, in a distant part of a large field but craftily waited until we were right in the middle before putting in an athletic dash towards us.

Bloody thing...

I hope I've had a good part of it with a smear of mustard some time in the past!

A large dog otter was the most surprising though, I was wading and trotting what is a usually productive weirpool early one Autumn morning but I was struggling for a bite.

The pool is quite sheltered by large trees on both banks and you couldn't hear yourself think for the strong wind which was howling through them and this fella must have had an inkling that something wasn't right and had to get in close to investigate.

A large head, complete with whiskers in perfect formation, surfaced without making a ripple around twenty feet in front of me and looking directly at me, we made direct eye contact for a couple of seconds before he slipped back down and disappeared, again without leaving a ripple or a boil on the surface.

And I once had a long drop bobbin eaten by rats during a night session fishing for eels!

One of my favourites though was an ex-club water which you could very much say is on the edge of the town centre and one morning a Kingfisher landed on my rod with a small fish slumped across its beak, manipulated the fish so that he was holding it by the tail, and then gave it a sharp tap on the rod to stun it before turning and swallowing it...

All within six or so feet of me.
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Well-known member
My worst experiences have been with wasps, one had landed on a sandwich I was eating and stung me on my lower lip, could have been dangerous if it had stung my throat, I believe the swelling can stop you breathing.

The other time I was strimming the river bank for the game angling club I used to belong to, when I walked over a wasp nest and felt the stings going into my head and neck, legged it up the bank into the field, looked back and they were still following me, dropped the strimmer and ran further away, as the engine was still running they decided to attack the strimmer instead of me.
Think I was stung about ten times all together.

Keith M

Well-known member
As a stupid young kid of around eight (or younger), my mates and I decided to stuff a lighted banger into the hole leading into a wasps nest below ground, and then put a brick on top of it; of course the whole nest of wasps erupted from the nest and we all got stung several times, I also had wasps up one of my sleeves stinging me repeatedly.
I learnt a valuable lesson that day.

As for entomology I’ve had wasp nests and bee nests in my swim but I remember another insect related experience that I had on the bank when I was a small lad of around 10 and was fishing with a whip after Bleak on the Thames with my dad, and was eating a ham sandwich.

My float disappeared so I put my ham sandwich down on the grass and then landed the Bleak and recast. I then I picked up my sandwich while still looking at my float and swallowed a few large bites of my sandwich. I remember thinking it tasted a bit gristly, but when I looked I found that my maggots had escaped onto the grass; right where I had lain my sandwich; and they’d crawled into it.

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David Gane

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Twice now I've caught turtles (or terrapins, I couldn't tell you what the difference is). Once in Hastings and once in a lake in France. I presume that someone got them to keep as pets and released them when they got too big.

Their bite (and fight) is very reminiscent of a bream.

As a piker I'm not afraid of teeth, but I know how to handle pike. I'm not so sure about turtles so I left them in the water while unhooking and did the best I could with forceps...


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I remember many years ago in Ireland me and my mate were bagging up on a lake when a herd of heifers surrounded us. I moo-ed at them which seemed to go down extraordinarily badly and we ended up scrambling up a tree to get out of their way. We were up there about 30 mins before they lost interest and wandered off. I've been surrounded by cows on several other occasions but thats the only time theyve ever been aggressive.

2-3 winters back at Bury Hill I used to regularly see an old boar badger who'd waddle up and sit behind me until I lobbed him a mackerel head to gnaw on.

Best encounter ever wasnt me but Mrs S. One morning I was loading the car early doors and a cat must have snuck in without me seeing. I buqqered off fishing and when I returned I got a right shoeing from Mrs S. The cat had got in the bedroom and lay on the floor breathing. Mrs S ( a light sleeper) woke and lay petrified listening to this breathing not having a clue what it was and knowing I'd gone out.

Then it jumped on the bed and scared the bejasus out of her. Goodness knows what the neighbours thought of the screams.


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I too am wary of cows and bulls. My local dayticket water is a working farm which breed Bazardais cattle the bulls of which are very impressive. I was sat on the bank when the farmers son erected an electric fence about 20 yards behind me. I know it was close because he enquired whether i was likely to catch it with a rod!!! A few minutes later a large bull followed by his harem arrived in the enclosure bellowing furiously and just behind me separated by a thin wire 3 feet of the ground. That was the one and only time i have changed peg and moved to an adjacent lake; and quickly!!!

Keith M

Well-known member
My mate Terry told me about when he was fishing a small river with some cows in the field behind him, and one cow came up to him and started to nuzzle his gear; and he heard a voice shout “Just give it a knock on its nose!, that’ll get rid of it!” the voice came from behind a bush on the other side of the stream.

So my mate clenched his fist and knocked the cow on its nose and the cow just looked at him and gave him a funny look and carried on nuzzling his gear as if nothing had happened.

”No, give it a harder punch on the nose!” said the voice, and so my mate clenched his fist even tighter and gave the cow an even harder wallop on its nose, but still to no avail.

”No don’t pussy around!, give it a really hard wallop!, and don’t hold back!” the voice shouted; so my mate did exactly as the voice had said and gave the cow a god almighty thump on the nose, and the cow just looked up at him and then pushed my mate and his gear straight into the stream, and the voice on the other bank shouted “Run!”.

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I think the most horrible encounter for me was when I was packing up after a 3 day session, I had removed everything from my bivvie apart from my holdall but when I did there was a snake under it, I am terrified of the things, it made me shudder to think it had been in there with me.


Well-known member
I think the most horrible encounter for me was when I was packing up after a 3 day session, I had removed everything from my bivvie apart from my holdall but when I did there was a snake under it, I am terrified of the things, it made me shudder to think it had been in there with me.
You're as soft as me Graham.
I did similar back in the late eighties.
Bivvied up on a Notts pit I woke with the dawn and still half awake reached over my head to retrieve my flask for a cup of coffee.
I jumped out of my skin when a rat ran up my arm , onto my chest and out the bivvy in a tiny opening in the nearly zipped up door opening.
I nearly cr- p - - d myself !!


Well-known member
I jumped out of my skin when a rat ran up my arm , onto my chest and out the bivvy in a tiny opening in the nearly zipped up door opening.
Ughh I would never have gone back I hate the things.

The snake thing was while fishing in the Nene Valley, the place is full of them.