For most anglers, the appearance of an alligator snapping turtle often means that your fish is about to be stolen. For David Nero of Grand Coteau, however, it just means a change in bait. According to the Opelousas Daily World, the angler caught a huge 120-pound snapping turtle from the waters of Bayou Teche last Wednesday.
Nero said he had been hunting for the turtle ever since he first ran into it two months ago during another fishing trip. At that time, he was unable to bring it in on a 60-pound test line. Last week, however, Nero managed to land the shelled beast on rod and reel, and even lassoed the critter to drag it in.
“I’d love to know his age,” Nero told the Daily World. “He looks prehistoric.”
Commonly called loggerheads, alligator snapping turtles can grow to over 200 pounds and are fierce predators. Biologists say that the bite from a loggerhead is often exaggerated and is only about as strong as a human’s, yet that is still powerful enough to cut through a broomstick handle or a couple of careless fingers. Louisiana is one of the few states where anglers can still fish for snapping turtles, which can be baited with catfish, eels, or just about anything.
The turtles are far from picky eaters and are known to wrap their powerful jaws around anything from crabs to raccoons to acorns. Last year two anglers in Oklahoma inadvertently caught a 100-pound snapping turtle while catfishing in Eufala Lake.
“Dave Harrell of Edmond caught it on a rod and reel and Audey Clark of Norman secured it and hauled it into the boat for pictures,” the fishermen wrote to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It is the biggest one we had ever seen.”
Alligator snapping turtles are considered the largest freshwater turtles in the world, but their gluttony sometimes gets the better of them. In Louisiana Cajun cooking, loggerheads are considered a delicacy. Yet Nero says his turtle will not be seeing the bottom of a pot anytime soon. The angler is considering releasing the turtle into a pond near his house, where the critter can eat its fill of fish. In any event, Nero’s son had already named the turtle “Big Daddy.”