10 Animals That Make Fishing Look Easy

Whether you consider yourself someone who likes to fish or not, we can appreciate this talented pool of wildlife fishing experts. From bears to osprey, wildlife deploy many unique and fascinating fishing techniques. We’ve highlighted just a few animals that inspire appreciation around the craft of catching their next meal.

Remember, if you’re a human being, it’s important you follow state regulations and obtain a fishing license if you fish! Wildlife, you’re exempt.

1. Kodiak Brown Bear: Expert snorkelers

By “snorkeling”, Kodiak brown bears find fish under water and pin them down with their claws. They use a number of other techniques as well, such as diving, pirating, and even begging.

Kodiak brown bear on Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS.

2. Atlantic Puffin: Can carry all the fish

Puffins are built for fishing. Even their beaks! They easily carry multiple fish because of their jaw structure and the built in serrated edges on their bill. In fact, puffins even have a “rosette”, (that yellow or orange fleshy skin by the bill) that allows them to open their beaks wider than a typical bird.

Photographed at Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Fred Yost/USFWS

3. Northern Water Snake: Opportunistic

These stealthy fishers have been known to steal a human angler’s catch right off their lines! Sometimes they’ll just swim into a school of fish with their mouth open. Fishing level: Expert.

Northern water snake. Photo used with permission by Flora Lichtman.

4. Green Heron: Bait experts

Herons are incredibly patient and will wait motionless for a long time before they catch a fish. Beyond their patience, green herons are known to use bait to lure in fish! They’ll use anything from earthworms and insects to crusts of bread and other objects to get the catch they want.

Green heron. Photo by Ned Haight / Flickr Creative Commons

5. Black-crowned Night Heron: Avoids the crowds

Aptly named, the black-crowned night heron prefers the pre-dawn hours for fishing aka when fish are most active. This helps them avoid the crowds (other birds fishing).

Black-crowned night heron. Photo by Tim Parker/USFWS.

6. Common Merganser: Great grip

Nice “sawbill” you got there! The common merganser was actually given this nickname due to the serrations in their bill; ideal for gripping on their slippery, slimy catches.

Common merganser. Photo by Stan Buosson

7. River Otter: Smells underwater

This fish thought camouflage alone would save it, but surprise! River otters can actually smell underwater!

River otter on Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Richard Cohen.

7. White Tern: Hovers like a champ

Hover- then dive with a splash! Terns hover over fish and this allows them to determine what species they’re fishing. They feed mostly on smaller species; this one caught a puffer fish. No big deal.

Manu-o-kū (Hawaiian name for white tern) is eating a species of puffer fish on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. White Tern By:Kiah Walker/USFWS

8. California Sea Lion: Expansive palate

California sea lions aren’t picky eaters, making them good fishers for regulating invasive species like this common carp.

A California sea lion chows down on a captured common carp. Photo credit: Matthew Ouano/USFWS.

9. Osprey: Feet spikes

They don’t mess around. 98% of the osprey diet is fish. See how this osprey effortlessly carries its catch with one talon? Want to get on their coolness level? Try holding a freshly caught fish with one hand. Their feet actually have “spicules” that help them hold on to their catch.

An osprey with half eaten fish in its talons. Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Bonus: Umm…Bobcat!?

This bobcat caught a shark. No big deal. While we don’t witness this kind of event very often, it’s just a reminder at how awesome wildlife are at fishing.

Bobcat with a shark. Photo by John Bailey.

Inspired? Go fishing!

With more than 270 national wildlife refuges that have places for you to fish, there are no shortages of opportunities to channel these wild animals and embark on your own adventure. So what are you waiting for?

By Danielle Brigida and Rebecca Fabbri, Social Strategy Team

Updates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

Updates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

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