On a very unseasonably warm Sunday (74F in Raleigh, NC!!!!), I intended to meet up with Feather Chucker for some winter fishing and try out a new 5 wt Cabela's Cahill combo that arrived last week. Unfortunately, a long "honey-do" list and three children left me about 30 minutes late and I couldn't find him. I decided I'd better fish the next good spot then head home to walk the dog and help another friend retreive a tree stand, before dark. I practiced casting, presenting and worked out my my new rod for a review to be posted. Just before leaving the water, I asked a lady riding by if she would take a series of pictures for my rod review.
She did, but as she left she jumped and had a startled look (I have that effect on people!) before riding off. A moment later, I exited the water where she stood and I ciaught a very brief glance of what appeared to be the tail of a fleeing Kingsnake. A quick flash of a black and yellow so I wasn't 100% sure of what I saw and being JANUARY, I probably had the same kind of startled look trying to make sense of what I thought I saw. About 2 miles or so from the parking lot, I see a couple with a dog pointing at something on the bike trail. I glance as I pass and it's this:
Yes!!!!!!! In the middle of January I am staring at a 2-2.5' specimen of Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen, the infamous northern copperhead sometimes referred to as a moccasin or upland moccasin. I am guessing this is a northern based upon the spots in the cross bands, but many specimens between central Va and central NC are intergrades with Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix, the southern copperhead to some extent so it is hard to discern in the field. Regardless, a copperhead in early January has to make for an unbelievable observation and what a way to start the season?!?!