So Skylar and I were fishing thursday evening in the south eastern corner of the lake near the “catfish goldmine” area, just to the left of it on the map (scroll down a few posts). the lake was nice and calm & very little to no wind so we upped anchor and free floated for a while with a few heavy rig cat poles dangling down about 10 ft.
About 9:30 we were thinking about packing it in when Skylar said ‘hey we’re moving.’ Indeed the boat had turned around and was now facing south, and slowly moving in that direction. “Check the lines” one of us quickly said. I checked my three, slack, Skylar’s big cat pole was tight and angled out into the water the direction of our movement.
OOOooo we got excited.
Sky grabbed his pole and gave a good hook set jerk and pulled hard. The pole appeared to be snagged on a rock, and wasn’t doing the tell tale jerk bobbing of FISH ON! movement. With the boat free floating we figured we could probably get it loose if we just pulled the boat over to where it was hooked. Sky gave a good slow tug to start moving the boat… and something tugged back… HARD. “Man this thing is alive!” Skylar immediately reported out loud. Sky continued to play pull and give for the next 15 minutes until the boat and creature were stacked on top of each other. At this point the thing was, we assumed, on the bottom of the lake about 15 feet down RIGHT under the boat. Sky’s putting a pretty good upward pull on his pole, it’s bent in half at a 90 degree angle strait down into the water. When the thing relaxed Sky was able to lift it about a foot strait up before it dove back down again, and when it tried to dive I am absolutely dead serious this thing DOVE! The thing had still not shown any signs of fish bobbing, thrashing around or horizontal movement whatsoever. This is about the time we realized that what we were dealing with was no fish, that it something far more massive. When it dove the pole did something we’d never seen before. The tip of the pole vibrated back and forth about 4 inches rapidly… very strange. It did that every time the thing made a mad dash for the bottom of the lake. There was nothing we could do to stop it’s decent once it decided that it wanted to go back to the bottom. Skylar was putting every bit of fishing know how and arm strength into this thing, pulling as it let him, quickly reducing drag to keep from snapping the line when it pulled. This dance went on for another 10 minutes, there was a brief moment when it seemed like the thing decided it was going to swim upwards and Sky was able to quickly reel in about 5-6 feet of slack before it tried to dive again. By this time we’d pulled in roughly 20 feet of line and we were beginning to wonder how close it was getting.
Right about this time Skylar got a good glimpse of the thing… With me about 5 feet away from where the line met the water – clutching the giant fish net with white knuckles – , and Skylar & his headlight pointing strait down into the water about 3 feet from the surface, Sky reported “I SEE IT!” A big white underbelly of something rolling over in the water just a mere 1-1.5 feet below the surface, not 2 feet off the side of my little boat. Right about that time this thing decided that it didn’t want to be on the hook anymore and dove HARD, right under the boat at a sharp angle – the first time it actually made any violent motion the entire length of the fight – pulling Skylar’s fishing rod nearly backwards on itself, into the water, under the boat, and tore the hook loose….. The feeling I got when that hook came FLYING into the air to expose the fact that sky only had about 4 feet of line from hook to pole was one of absolute horror. It was akin to the feeling one would get if one were to see their wife get hit by a speeding car, or the feeling you get when you realize the plane you’re in is going to crash.
For a brief moment Skylar and I stared at each other dealing with the shock and horror of loosing whatever creature it was. Time stopped, thoughts froze and nothing else existed in the universe other than the fact that we had just lost the biggest creature that we had ever seen hooked in our lives.
So.. 30 pound test line, spit tightened polomar knot, 6” plastic coated steel leader, nice fat catfish hook & a 5-6” long dead shad resting 15 feet down on the bottom of that cove. 25 minute fight, no side to side movement, the feel of HUGE 150-200lbs of mass, very powerful creature, very strange vibration during movement, and a white underbelly.. there’s only three things I can think of that could fit that description:
100lbs+ lazy flathead catfish – but it really didn’t feel or act like a fish on a line…
Full grown adult male alligator snapping turtle the size of a semi truck tire – but they dont have white underbellies like what we saw…. or…..
an alligator, which as unlikely as it seems, fits every bit of the event’s happenings..
stay tuned for future updates. we will be assisting game wardens this evening spotlighting for this thing as we fish.. with really, really big ..catfish tackle.