A strange event played out last Sunday at the Everglades Bassmasters of South Florida Open Team Tournament when two anglers hooked a Burmese python. According to the Sun Sentinel, Joe Holland and Brett Darmody at first thought the creature was a turtle emerging from the water. One of Holland’s topwater lures had caught on the snake’s back and he realized, incredulously, that a python was on the line. Darmody managed to steer the boat along the snake and measure the animal against the length of the vessel.
“Joe’s boat is 21 feet,” he said, “and the snake went from the tip of the bow to the middle of the back deck.”
Darmody estimated the python to be about 16 feet long. Burmese pythons are an invasive species originally from eastern Asia. The species has entrenched itself in the Everglades and are now a high priority target for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Earlier this year the Commission held a python hunting challenge to draw attention to the damage these large snakes can do to the local environment. Pythons are now an increasingly common sight in the Everglades.
The snake the anglers hooked evidently did not relish the attention and fled towards shore, dragging Holland’s boat after it. The two men say that the python was too powerful to be caught and after several minutes of struggle the hook pulled free. The snake disappeared into the marsh.
An hour later, Darmody and Holland spotted a different, smaller python in the water.
“I had never seen one in all the years I’ve been out there and I saw two in one day,” Darmody said. “We were telling everybody. It was exciting for both of us.”
Although the two-man team came in fifth place at the competition with a fish weight of 19.54 pounds, they did have the best story. While pythons may not contribute to the competition weight, it would have been quite a catch.