Derik and I were pre-fishing for a tournament on Hugo Lake. We were in Long Creek, which is about a 3 mile long narrow creek and averages about 4′-5′ deep feeding into the lake. We were flippin’ the brush with Texas rigged craws and had been catching lots of nice 3-4 pounders.
Derik flipped up under a limb hanging out over the water and thought he had a bite. When he set the hook he thought he had snagged a log because his line just barely moved off the bank. After feeling it for a few seconds he realized he had something on the line but wasn’t sure if it was a catfish hung up in some brush. His line slowly moved out to the middle of the creek channel and stopped. He could feel that he was still hooked up on something but could not move it.
After about 35 minutes of steady pressure this huge turtle came to the surface, took a breath of air and went straight back to the bottom. After about another 30 minutes of steady pressure, the turtle finally came back to the surface and we fought him to the boat. Derik was fishing with a 7’4 heavy action Falcon Cara, 50lb Spider wire, Owner hook and Revo STX reel. We tied ropes around him and tied him to the side of the boat where he could stay in the water and still breath.
When we made it back to the main lake we hoisted him onto the deck of the boat and tied him down. We took him to town and called our local game warden Wendell Smalling. Wendell came and checked him out and told us we should contact the state game biologist to have look at him. He was convinced the turtle was a common snapping turtle and would be a new record. After contacting the state and doing some internet research there was some confusion of whether the turtle was a common snapper or an alligator snapping turtle. Alligator snapping turtles are a protected species, and it turns out he was an alligator snapper, but since we had done him no harm and reported him to the state department, there were no laws broken.
We had him for about a week and a half before we finally got in touch with the right biologist who specialized in aquatic species. Dan Moore and his team came to Hugo and were amazed at the size of him and how healthy he was. They were very happy to be able to collect some data such as DNA, weight (103lbs.) Length (5′ nose to tail), Width (2.5′ across his back). They estimated his age to 130 +/- years old.
The turtle was implanted with a transmitter chip and was shell marked so he could be identified if he is ever caught again. Then he was released back into the Kiamichi River about 8 miles above the lake. Dan said the reason he was released so far from where he was caught is that these animals are very territorial and could be somewhat aggressive if anything was in their territory.
I have been in contact with Dan and he has told me as far as the records go, he has found this turtle to be the new state record by 32lbs. But he also told me there have not been many record kept on turtle species until he and his team had started their research, and that the largest record was from in the 60’s of a turtle caught on a trot line. So our turtle is officially the state record.
The Oklahoman is going to do a story on him so keep looking for that as well. Click on picture to view larger images.
Editor’s Note: Wow! Now that is really something!! What did you name him while he stayed with you? What did you feed him??