Not a giant but more than acceptable, especially considering how tough the hunting was. For whatever reason the gators were very inactive on Saturday night. While we saw quite a few not very many of them were of any size and even fewer were leaving the thick stuff to forage in more open parts of the lake. It happens like that sometimes, for what reason I don't know.
Spoke to one of the wardens at about 2am and he said that every hunter he spoke to gave the same report. Not being the easily disuaded types and knowing that just as fish will, the gators can all of a sudden get active, we decided at about 3 to shove the boat up next to a tree and rack out on the deck for a while.
Went back to looking at a little before 5. Seemed that the gators if anything were even less active! Sunrise found us sitting on a point glassing a couple of small coves. This guy showed up in amongst some pilings about a third of a mile away.
Ran to him. He messed up by simply setteling to the bottom instead of diving and swimming. First cast to the last spot we saw him hooked him up. And then the fun began.
As he ran off he passed under a hoopnet, zig zagged through the pilings and slipped under a log. By the time he settled down he was 50 yards away with the line running through all that stuff between us and him.
We used the anchor to lift the hoopnet off the bottom and run the rod under it. Managed to clear a couple of the pilings and a small log which brought us to about 20 yards out from where we thought he was sitting.
And you've got to understand that he's still underwater. We've only seen him from a ways off as he went down.
Not being able to get the line free from the next piling we decided to use the trolling motor and let line out, while keeping it tight, untill we were close enough to snag him with the other big rod. Idea was to rehook him and then cut the other line. That worked fine untill we snatched the first hook out when we tried to set the second one.
At this point we figured we'd lost him. Then my brother in law uses one of the small locater rigs and manages to hook him up again....BLIND LUCK I say...skill he says..... Problem is that the gator now decides to swim back through the pilings. Obviously you can't slow or turn one with a little rod so we have to follow with the trolling motor.
As we pass through the pilings the boat rides up and gets stuck. With a good bit of rocking and weight shifting we get it loose but by now the gator is off quite a ways, but still hooked up on the small line.
Once we catch up to him some idiot once again knocks the existing hook out while trying to set a second hook on a rod big enough to raise the gator so he can be harpooned. Fortunatly by this time the gator is fairly tired and a couple of sweeps with the big rod and he's hooked up again.
By this time he's come up for air once but all the activity is out of sight in very dark water.
In the pictures you can see my buddy Skip blowing the his first opportunity at harpooning the gator, not quick enough on the trigger. And then he misses on the second try. Brother in law takes over on the harpoon, he's not as old as Skip and I and A LOT stronger, and sets the harpoon.
You can also see what happens when some idiot (Same idiot that knocked the hooks out.) uses the bangstick in a less than optimum way. Note the nice dry shirt in the first picture and then the second picture.....
Not a giant gator but not to bad, 10' 10" and a little over 400 pounds. We had 193 pounds of meat, legs, fat and ribs off of him. Head and skin and guts and bones made up the difference.
The gators out of this lake are usually abnormally fat, a situation that looks good on the scales but is a BIG pain when we clean them. Gator fat is kind of unpleasant to eat and it's distributed in a odd way through the tail and body so removing it is work.
It'll take two posts to get the pictures..............