Nightmares: Wyo Angler Reminds Public That Rattlesnakes Swim In Lakes, Reservoirs

After being visited by a swimming rattlesnake while fishing in Boysen Reservoir with his two children on Sunday, Wyoming angler Patrick Edwards thought it was a good idea to remind anglers and boaters that rattlesnakes in the water are more common than you may think.

Clair McFarland

July 20, 20224 min read

Rattlesnake swim 7 20 22 scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

When a rattlesnake glided across the lake Sunday to visit a Wyoming fisherman, the fisherman wasn’t flattered.  

Patrick Edwards, avid fisherman and voice of Radcast Outdoors, recorded a video Sunday evening of a rattlesnake slithering toward him across the surface of Boysen Reservoir. He’d been fishing for Walleye with two of his four children – an 8-year-old and 12-year-old – and with his father and his wife’s grandfather.  

“This is not what you want to see when you go fishing,” said Edwards in the video. “That is a big’n… and he’s wanting to come hang out while I am fishing. Not very cool.”  

Edwards posted the video to one of his Facebook pages and was surprised when it was linked by photography profile Wyoming Through the Lens – and went viral.  

About half the people responding to the post were shocked that rattlesnakes would swim across the lake, said Edwards. But he’s been seeing it all his life.  

“They actually cross Boysen all the time. I’ve seen it probably 20 times at least on Boysen, I’ve seen it on the Seminoe Reservoir down by Sinclair, the Glendo Reservoir… Flaming Gorge,” he said. “They’re not afraid to get in the water.” 

About 20 years ago, a rattler tried slithering into the boat while Edwards and his dad fished. 

Edwards said the rattlers often will cross the lake when the water is warmest in the early evening, but even then they need a moment to recover their body heat when they hit the bank.  

When Edwards’ video reached the sand 10 yards away from him, he thought the snake would relax for a few minutes. But the snake recovered quickly.  

“He sat there for a minute and he started to slither toward me,” said Edwards, recounting what happened after he stopped recording. “I thought ‘Oh crap – I don’t want you over here.’” 

Edwards threw a few rocks toward the snake and it meandered the other direction.  

Second Rattler 

But that was only the first rattler of the evening.  

The family discovered a second snake by accident while ambling toward their truck in the half-dark of evening, about 9:30.  

Edwards came within five feet of the rattlesnake, and it let him know.  

“He started rattling really loud.”  

The family avoided the snake as they got into their truck and left. That incident concerned Edwards because unlike the earlier snake encounter, it was a complete surprise.  

“I’ve always been terrified of snakes, so that was not helpful.”  

‘The Ones You Can’t See’ 

Edwards said his children handled the shock fine, since they’d seen other rattlesnakes on the family farm earlier this year.  

“It’s the ones you can’t see that you’ve got to worry about,” he said, adding that many people have approached him since he made the viral post, and have told him they paddleboard and play in the lake water.  

Edwards tells those people to pay close attention to what’s in the water, watch for graceful serpentine movement. And paddle away.  

“I always worry about people who are waterskiing,” Edwards said. “You can run over a rattlesnake.” 

Non-venomous bull snakes and many other breeds also swim in lakes, but the rattlesnake has a flatter, broader head and can be identified by its rattles as well.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter