Monroe MacKinney thought he had reeled in just another largemouth bass from his parents’ eight-acre pond. But after peering into the fish’s mouth, the Missouri fisherman realized he’d actually hauled up a Russian nesting doll of nightmares.
MacKinney’s catch had apparently swallowed an Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus), which are common throughout the eastern United States, Canada, and even some parts of Mexico. Their scientific name is a bit misleading, since Eastern Moles spend most of their time tunneling around underground. However, they’re also known as pretty good swimmers—this one just decided to take a dip on the wrong day.
The mole in question was unsurprisingly DOA by the time MacKinney got a hold of its captor. It was ostensibly climbing out of the fish’s mouth before it perished inside.
“[It] scared me a little,” MacKinney wrote on his Instagram. “[I] went to take my lure [out] and almost dropped the fish…thought it was a turtle.”
It’s still unclear why a big, floppy fish felt the urge to snack on a hairy, subterranean tunneler. But largemouth bass are known to swallow their prey whole—and it doesn’t always end well for the bass or its victim. While bass typically eat smaller fish like perch and minnows, this one was clearly hankering for something more substantial. Who can blame him?
We may never know the full story behind this bizarre photo. But let it be a lesson to never make rash decisions while you’re hungry.