Disclaimer: The faint of heart maybe shouldn't read this post. Blood and guts ensue....
At the catfish pond from my previous post I managed a surprising and fun catch. I was fishing earthworms on the bottom of the pond. A normal catfish take is usually a simple rod tip bend and the fish then runs and pulls consistently. Well, I had a take just like this in the middle of the day but after a few seconds it was obvious that it was not a fish on the end of the line. Everyone who fishes knows what a fish on the line feels like. There are the tell-tale wiggles of the rod in your hand as the fish tries to swim against the pull of the hook in it's mouth. When there is no wiggle, there is no fish. And I had no wiggle.
Generally when there is no wiggle you have caught a snag, and the pressure it takes to pull the line in tells you exactly how big a snag you caught. As I reeled in this snag I could tell it was bigger than any snag I had ever caught before (that could be reeled in). I had a 12 lb test line on my rod so I could pull very hard, and I did. Still no wiggles. Just a constant pressure against my pull.
It wasn't until I got the end of my line most of the way to shore that I could see the hazy outline of a big circular object beginning to surface. And soon enough we could all tell it was a big snapping turtle! Fortunately we had a big dip net with us because there is pretty much no other way to get a snapping turtle of this size out of an overgrown pond without risking the loss of your fingers. We also didn't want to leave it in the pond because it could easily clean out a significant portion of the fish population, which is absolutely unacceptable!
We hauled this monster of the deep onto the bank and tried to figure out how to kill it. If you've ever tried to kill a snapper before you know it's not an easy task. If you haven't, I will tell you: it's not an easy task. We had only a flimsy filet knife which won't do the job. Fortunately there was an old fence that had seen better days nearby. Vern found a loose, rusty steel fence post. We tried to coax the turtle's head out to bite at sticks while Vern tried to stab him in the head. A turtle's head is apparently very very hard and we did 0 damage. While a couple of us were still trying to coax his head out or thinking of what else to try, out of nowhere, Vern drives the fence post right through the turtle's shell.
I think it hit everyone by surprise. It was pretty sad to see the turtle continue to struggle for life for the next 2 hours (which was amazing at the same time), but it also felt good to be the savior of many of the fish in that pond. It is acceptable to actively kill one to save the many? Does anyone care that we killed a turtle?
On the plus side I think that sets a record for me for heaviest live animal caught with a fishing pole. The turtle, RIP, weighed in at about 13lbs.
Go ahead and send the hate mail. I'm ready.