Went back to the lake on Friday morning, just me and Louann. Spotted this guy and all appeared to be going well, to well.
After snagging him on a light rod, 30# test and not much drag, he ran off only about 20-30 yards and settled down on the bottom. Soon as he settled down Louann, who was running the trolling motor and handling the light rod, suggested that I get the harpoon ready before going at him with the big rod.
Sounded reasonable, even though I knew that once I set down with the big rod ( 80# test on a 8 1/2 foot rod ) he was going to run around a long time before I could hoist him to the surface to get a harpoon in him.
And it was this reasonable suggestion that ultimately caused the problem. And it caused a problem because if that harpoon had not been handy I'd of not tried to be cute. In this instance instead of setting down on him with the big rod as would be the norm and letting him tire himself out in the open water before setting the harpoon, once I felt the hook come in contact with the gator I VERY SLOWLY pulling up in hopes of having him not notice that he was rising towards the surface. The idea being to set the harpoon before he knows he has a problem.
As it turned out, even though he had settled in about 8 feet of water, I was able to get him coming to the surface more easily than expected. Of course WHY it was easy became apparent as what came into sight first was the back of his tail......obviously his head was still resting on the bottom!
Soon as I saw the tail, while holding the rod in one hand I hurled the harpoon with the other.
Did I mention that the gator was fresh, that he'd not spent any of his energy on fighting the rods? I think so.......
Anyway, as soon as the harpoon hit home, not to far from the end of the tail, as Johnny Horton sang, "The gator lost his mind!". He splashed water all over us and then proceeded to haul the boat right up towards a tree laying in the water.
As he got closer to the tree Louann started yelling that I had better do something, though she was not specific as to what. Which is kind of unusual as the norm is that I get TOLD EXACTLY what to do, ALWAYS.
So there I am, with instructions to "do something" but without the usual specifics of what. And my response is to grab the rope, 3/8 nylon, and as fast as I can, haul the boat to the gator. Of course this does not stop the gator, even though it slows him down some, but it does get us closer which at least has the effect of stopping the yelling about "doing something", a small victory.
By the time I'd hauled the boat the 35 feet to the gator, no small feat for my skinny almost 60 year old self, the gator was just short of the tree and thankfully decided to rest for a moment. But mind you it was only a moment, and he was far from spent.
In the few moments that he just sat there on the bottom I realized that Louann had decided that she would help me by kicking the trolling motor on in reverse with the effect that now I was slowly pulling the gator away from the tree, which seemed like another victory. At least it did until the gator got his second wind and took off towards the tree again.
Problem was that I had not had time to dog the rope onto a cleat and was not smart enough to LET GO when he took off towards the tree again. Can anyone say ROPE BURN??
And NO, I am not going to post a picture of my hands so you can enjoy!!
Of course as soon as my old slow brain kicked in and I let the rope go the gator finished his dash into the tree. And when he got there he proceeded to use every foot of that rope to good advantage.
So there we sat. A big gator tangled up in the bottom of a tree ( Can't see him as the water is black and deep. ), my hands rather uncomfortable, and Louann telling me again that I have to "do something". I just looked at her......and waited.
And I waited because I had already decided that we were going to lose this gator but figured that if I let her tell me what to do next at least I could shift the blame for it and thereby save a butt chewin'.
After asking me if we had a saw, which she knew we did not and with which I still have no idea what she was going to have me do ( Dive down and start sawing is all that comes to mind....thank God we had no saw! ), she decides that what I need to do is give the gator some slack and let him come up and then harpoon him again, a idea that actually made sense, at least a lot more sense than the saw idea.
Well, as you can see by the pictures it worked.
He was a bit over 11 feet long and close to, if not over 400#. And yes, getting him in the boat was another ordeal, one which involved a butt chewin' when I neglected to tie the block & tackle off high enough up the tree the first time.