Warning: The true accounts you’re about to read might scare the fishing pants off you. In reality, the odds of facing a frightening wild animal are infinitesimal. But, such wildlife encounters are not impossible. A bit of caution, a little common sense and some luck keep most of us out of harm’s way. These accounts are not intended to discourage anyone from kayak fishing. Instead, the following stories serve as a healthy reminder that once you paddle away from land, you’re no longer the top of the food chain.
Scariest Wildlife Encounters: Honorable Mentions
1 Grizzly Bear
In a 2018 YouTube video filmed on roiling waters near Squamish, British Columbia, a grizzly bear charges across a shallow river to pursue a kayaker. The kayaker sees the angry bear just in time to scoot out of its reach. Even after the paddler hit deep water, the bear continued the chase, swimming down the swift river before giving up and climbing onto the bank.
In addition to running and climbing faster than a human, bears also beat us at a swim meet. Bears can swim up to six miles per hour while we max out at three miles per hour. Luckily, we can paddle faster than we can swim.
In 2018, Sue Spector was slowly paddling on Florida’s Braden River when an otter attempted a take her down. The large aquatic mammal climbed aboard Spector’s kayak to claw and bite her face. The startled paddler capsized in a frenzy and the otter continued the attack. Eventually, the woman’s husband was able to beat the otter away with his paddle. Spector required stitches and rabies shots.
Over the next several days, four more otter attacks were reported in the area. Florida officials distributed leaflets and posted signs warning of a vicious otter.
In a 2010 YouTube video, pro kayak angler Drew Gregory is seen releasing a bass on a weedy, quiet backwater tributary. A pair of geese swim peacefully alongside him. Soon after Gregory releases the fish, the male goose, with no warning, flies in and vehemently attacks the startled angler.
The goose beats him with its wings until Gregory falls out of the kayak. In the water, standing next to his kayak, Gregory asks the goose, “What did I do to you?” The goose stretches its neck towards Gregory and makes a laughing sound.
Apparently, 2018 was a good year for weird, wild encounters. In the spring of the year, a kayaker on South Carolina’s Edisto River was bitten three times on the hand by a rattlesnake. Initially, Michael Adams said the snake fell from a tree. Then the victim changed his story and admitted he had picked up the snake.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 45. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Lewis and Clark named the grizzly bear for its “grisly” or fear-inspiring appearance. | Feature photo: Shutterstock