GRASS snakes have been a talking point for anglers this week, while big fish continue to make an appearance too.

The reptile continues to catch unsuspecting members of Warrington Anglers' Association by surprise, although they have been seen in numbers at the club's Sandiway Lakes fishery in Northwich.

Chris Holmes sparked a chat about England's largest snake when he posted on the association's Facebook page: "Anyone seen any big grass snakes around Sandiway, big one just went past my feet."

Many of the club's fellow anglers responded acknowledging sightings while fishing either the 53-acre lake or adjacent 17-acre lake off Overdale Lane, close to Whitegate, Foxwist Green and Blakemere Village.

David Edwards said: "Yep, seen a couple on little Sandiway, literally slithered past the end of my feet."

Holmes replied: "Was a big one I seen, didn’t even know they went so big."

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Warrington Anglers' Association member Jonny Paul Goodman's picture of a grass snake at Sandiway Lakes a couple of years ago

Grass snakes can grow up to 150cm in length, live for 15 to 25 years and are usually spotted between April and October.

Phil Newton chipped in: "Fishing a lake near Hereford, I shouted to mate on next peg "you've got a visitor" as one swam past me. He looked, I pointed. I've never seen anyone move so fast as he vacated his peg."

Robert Cornes captured these fantastic pictures of a juvenile grass snake at Sandiway Lakes a few years ago.

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"Only a young snake that one. Seen much bigger around those lakes," he said.

"They are a protected species these days. Numbers are in decline nationwide. Good to see a healthy population of them on Sandiway, especially for someone like myself who has an interest in herpetology. I have a few pet snakes at home."

Video footage of a grass snake at Sandiway Lakes captured by John Nicholls

In case anyone is tempted, David Hull warns: "Don’t pick one up, they stink!"

Perhaps that is advice Ken Hewitt may have benefitted from many years ago.

"Use to catch them as a kid, boy do they stink when they squirt all over your hands, takes days get rid of the smell," he said.

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When caught by one of their many predators, grass snakes hiss and release a foul-smelling substance from their anal gland.

Although they may strike with the head, they do not bite.

Predators include badgers, foxes, domestic cats, hedgehogs and a number of birds.

Grass snakes are fond of wetland habitats and typically during the summer can be spotted basking in the sun near their favourite ponds or swimming in the water.

They hunt amphibians, fish, small mammals and birds.

Sandiway Lakes is owned by Warrington Anglers' Association and is a members-only water.

The former sand quarry was purchased outright around 20 years ago for £250,000.

The bigger lake is considered the club's premier specimen fish water.

Anglers have been catching big fish at other Warrington Anglers' Association locations this summer too.

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