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Gippsland fisherman faces off with tiger snake in tinny anchored far from shore

Bob Thatcher was just about to draw up the anchor in his four-metre boat when he realised there was a fairly serious, extremely venomous obstacle in his way.

Bob Thatcher was 11 kilometres from shore in his four-metre tinny on Lake Wellington, in eastern Victoria, when he realised there was a serious, metre-long problem between him and the anchor — a deadly snake.

Key points:
  • Victorian fisherman Bob Thatcher found a one-metre tiger snake in his small boat
  • At the time of discovery, Mr Thatcher was fishing on Lake Wellington, 11 kilometres from shore
  • He called a snake catcher to meet him at a jetty and they were able to remove the snake without any harm — to it or them

"I saw the forked tongue flicking at me and I thought, 'That's a blessed tiger snake,'" he said.

"I had a few other words but I better not repeat that."

With no way to get to the anchor, Mr Thatcher and the tiger snake were stuck.

"I thought, 'Well, I can't get past it' — so I just stood still for a while," he said.

"Then, eventually, it went to where some tackle was, so that gave me a bit of relief.

"But I still couldn't get to the anchor."

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Mr Thatcher desperately tried to figure out how to get the boat back to the ramp.

"I thought, 'What am I going to do?'" he said.

"I looked around the boat and there wasn't really anything that could help me.

"Then it moved again and, as it came across to the other side of the boat, I picked my jumper up and threw my jumper over its head.

"That gave it a fright — enough to get it hiding down the side of the boat, so I was able to get to the anchor and pull it up."

A tinny sitting on some grass.A tinny sitting on some grass.
Bob Thatcher's boat had an unexpected passenger.(

Supplied: Bob Thatcher

)
'Whacked in the bag'

Mr Thatcher and the tiger snake then set off on the half-hour trip back to shore.

"It didn't take me too long to get out of the boat when I got back to the ramp," Mr Thatcher said.

Sale-based snake catcher Baden Peter was awaiting the pair's arrival.

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"By now the tiger snake had gone down under the solid floor into the bilge," Mr Peter said.

"We spent an hour and a half trying to coax it out by banging on the other side of the boat.

"We thought we'd have to take it back to Bob's place and get a hose in to flush it out, but as we were putting the boat on the trailer the snake came out and we managed to grab its head with the tongs and whacked it in the bag.

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"I released it back into the Heart Morass next to Lake Wellington … pristine conditions for a snake.

"He went straight between my legs, actually — he was calm and collected, not aggressive or stirred up."

Mr Thatcher is in his 80s and has fished all over Australia.

"I've had a few problems with crocodiles," he said.

"But I never thought of a snake coming in the boat — no way."

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