I gotta point out that NO snake spends more than a few minutes at a time on the bottom of a lake. Those couldn't have been snakes you were touching...if they had been, you'd have been surrounded by surfacing snakes and you'd have known it!
Snakes only concentrate in given areas during the times when they are moving to and from hibernation. You might see "several" snakes in a small area quite commonly, but not what you'd consider large concentrations of them unless you are very near a hibernation site.
In the Ozarks, a few outlaws still do a lot of hand-fishing...sticking their hands up into underwater cavities like hollow logs or under rocks, to catch spawning catfish. (It's illegal in Missouri, but some still do it.) Most people shudder at the thought, because they imagine all these snakes hiding in the underwater cavities. But the old-timer I knew who did it all the time said he'd NEVER encountered a snake in such a situation. They simply don't spend much time at all underwater, and almost never on the bottom or in cavities, unless those cavities are only partially underwater where they can lie in hiding and still breathe easily. On the other hand, a rock lying at water's edge, partially submerged, is a great place to encounter a water snake. It'll be hidden under the rock but usually lying under the part of the rock that allows them to stay out of the water. (Also on the other hand, the hand-fishers often encounter big snapping turtles hiding in logs that are shallow enough that the turtles can stretch their necks out and get their noses out of the water to breathe. Snappers are alert and wary, and they immediately duck entirely into the log when somebody approaches. Fortunately for the hand-fisher guys, they are fairly docile when completely submerged, and they guys who like turtle meat just feel along the edge of the shell until they reach the tail, grab it, and yank the turtle out!)
Touring Kayak Paddles
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