Ticks and Rattlesnakes

Rock Creek Fan

Active Member
This is a serious question...

I have seen/read a lot of posts about ticks and rattlesnakes. The most recent in the Crab Creek thread. As funny/humorous as that thread was, there was a lot of sincere posts about ticks and rattlesnakes. I believe them to be true more than 'fake news'.

Some background: I have spent almost all my life in WA. I spent a few years in Alabama being a Boeing brat when Saturn V was being developed. In Alabama ticks, snakes (rattlers, copperheads and cotton mouths) and chiggers were prevalent and dealt with them. BUT I have never seen a tick in WA. I fished Lenice, Lenore, Nunnaly, Park, Crab Creek, hunted all over EWA and CWA for pheasants, ducks, and chuckers. I hiked all over WA. and ticks were never a concern. This was mostly in the 70's to mid-90's. Now regarding rattlesnakes that is a different story. I had a fishing buddy from Yakima that used to hunt the snakes in the Yakima River Canyon. I think it was for the venom. I learned it was the snakes you did not see nor hear that were issue...

So my question is... Have the ticks and snakes become more prevalent in recent years? I know most of my experience was before the Internet and cell phones. Is it just due to access to more information? Maybe it is due to advent of Lymes disease?

Help an OG out so I can understand what it is like nowadays compared to 'old times'...
 

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
People see more Rattlers now because of all the residential expansion into out-of-town areas. Birds spread a lot of Ticks around here - Bateman Island is lousy with them, Gulls/Crows/other birds visit that area, pick-up Ticks and the Ticks "drop-off" elsewhere after feeding. I've found a few in my yard over the last few years. Burbank & the Patterson area never used to have Ticks, but they are there now. The densest Tick populations I've ever encountered have been in the scablands, south of O'Sullivan and south of Sprague Lake in particular. There are no Black-Legged Ticks (Lyme Disease vectors) in Eastern WA; those are found from the Cascades west. On the plus side, Ticks don't seem to like me; I've had lots of them on me, but have never had one burrow in. I'm fastidious about blousing pants into boots, wearing light-colored clothing in Tick season, checking myself thoroughly & tossing clothes I have worn into a hot clothes dryer for 30 or 40 minutes when I get home.
 
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troutpocket

Active Member
In central WA April-June is prime tick season. Since I prefer not to interact with the little blood suckers, I mostly steer clear of their hangouts. Off trail is no go. Narrow, brushy paths, think twice. Give me a wide, clear gravel trail and then I’m fine (Lenice, for example). They are still around all summer and fall but for whatever reason I don’t find them crawling around then. Their primary hosts are mice and deer. I read a news article recently that predicts the warming climate and expanding human sprawl will greatly increase the prevalence of ticks and tick born illness.

Snakes are in the same areas and I encounter them regularly on warm days walking into or back from the desert lakes. I appreciate the heads up they provide with the rattle. The first few times gave me a good startle.
 

MGTom

Active Member
If you fish in my area, Walla Walla, same as @troutpocket said, any brushy area, especially game trails, or tall grass will have ticks mostly in the spring. Snakes are rare, in 25 years of traipsing around surveying and fishing I've seen 3. I've never had a tick get attached. Usually you spot them on you clothing. Keep things tucked in. More often than not you will find them moving from you cloths across your neck to your head, and they spend quite some too looking to settle down. When done do a through inspection of cloths and self. I've found them in the shower the next morning, but it's worse when the wife finds one on the pillow! My experience is worse with bees. People love to go in the woods with me 'cause I find 'em first. If your careful and aware it should not stop you, at least in my neck of the woods. Just leave the woofers at home.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
RCF - You must live a charmed life, that would explain never having seen a tick. Apparently MGThomas lives a charmed life as well with only three snakes in all his out and abouts. I spend quite a bit of time around assorted lakes here in the Basin. This is tick season and as troutpocket suggests, they don't seem to be so prevalent later in the year but they're out now. I had one crawl on my float tube my last outing to the seeps..... As for snakes last year was the first time in 32 years that I have seen a live rattlesnake in my yard. Since it tried to get into the garage I dispatched it (9 buttons). I've seen two dead rattlesnakes in the back yard that I assume my cat killed, they were really small - one button. Where's the den??

Like Nick Clayton, I am afraid of snakes and won't go to some of the really grassy places where I can't see the ground. I need to be able to see the ground and know there isn't a snake within a couple feet of my size 12's. Now with all that fear factor, I rarely see rattlesnakes. Rarely. Hope that doesn't jinx me.
 

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
WFF Supporter
I've had at least one tick, that I knew of, on my waders at Lenice. As for snakes, they do not wait in the middle of a trail to get you. They are pretty much where they should be, in the underbrush (sage / rabbit brush) and exposed rock. Stick to trails and don't tromp through the brush or rock falls. I have seen a number of them over the years, only had one rattle - on the Grand Ronde, a number of years ago. There are also scorpions around, found one in a fire pit at Lenice.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
If I ever worried about Ticks and Rattlesnake I would never get out of my Truck and attempt to fly fish. I saw my first tick at about the age of 65. I have yet to even see a live rattler where I fish, even here in Montana. I've seen a few Garter snakes, but but none of the kind with a wedge shaped head.

As for ticks in Washington. In all my years in fishing or even playing in the woods. I have never seen one on the wet side of the state.
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
Its a bad tick year this year for sure. Plenty of the damn things on the east side. I have pulled a few off of my dogs on the west side over the years but generally the really small ones which are easy to miss.
We found a handful on us after turkey hunting around spokane this last week.
 

Gyrfalcon2015

Wild Trout
Like @Jim Ficklin observed above, the channeled scabland from mid-Match in a warm early season, brings them out. I also found then in high numbers just east of there when I would visit Turnbull NWR often.
It was full of deer, elk, brush.
The rule there was white socks, and because it was mid 1980's to mid-90, John Stockton short shorts. You could see them easily on the socks, and all that sensitive skin exposed before they could "crevice up" in a nether region higher.
Still, surprising how many you'd find on back of your neck that did a crawl without being noticed.

Many 10+ tick days, never had one attach. I would be watchful in the car days later as some would be on floormat.

Closer to the lakes in the open desert, had a few here and there, but not bad, but was not in brush areas. RF and DF, yes, some.

I nightfished a lot so was pretty careful and saw snakes. Not as many as I'd liked, really. Always a highlight to see a rattlesnake.
Other snakes more common, some fat ones, too! I saw a dead Bull Snake at Sprague Lake one year that was truly amazing. About 3 feet long, only, but baseball bat barrel fat, not just the belly. It was incredible. Have photo somewhere.

And it is true, Rattlers do not always warn. Many times have seen a snake in brushy spot I almost stepped towards and thought It was a Bull Snake. Moving into position to get photos, the snakes will tire of the commotion, ball up and rattle.

That gets your attention. But have not seen tons of snakes up here like you can see on the Deschutes in Oregon.
 

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
About ticks.... I must have misheard God when he asked if people wanted to be Tick Magnets. I heard differently and was in my disco phase... well, part of that is a different story. I am a tick magnet now and it is surprising how many ticks are over here. I get near bushes or high grass and I feel them crawling. A couple years ago when fishing upper Hampton I picked up ticks going thru the brush to fish the lake. When coming out I brushed against the same weeds and picked up ticks going home. Another time when turkey hunting everytime I stopped and sat I had ticks. Picked them off me 8 separate times that trip and also found one crawling on me around North Bend. Turned out it was not the last one I found that trip. Almost introduced them to the wetside that time. There are tons of ticks over here. Some people are not tick magnets and they say ticks are minimal. Others such as me find them all over the place.
 

JamesRPL+

Active Member
Guy I used to fish with near Ravensdale hunts turkey the other side of our mountains.They sit usually, leaning on a tree and wait.He had his wife remove 3 tics near his groin.
seems to let them have great access to you while sitting on the ground?
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
I used to use a bug repellant made by Cutter. 7% deet. Works on all flying bugs and crawling ones I don't stay out long enough to spray it on anymore. As old as I am, I'm only good for about a hour over throwing a fly rod around. I need to sit down and rest. A nap if I over do it.
 

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