Thursday, March 30, 2006

Leaving a trail of bubbles when they love

In a comment for the New Pond Life post below, Jasper suggests I pre-emptively catch and release the snapper, in an effort to avoid stressing out the koi-san. Not a bad idea - we have another pond up at the country place which would make an even better home for this reptile. But, this sounds like one of those suggestions where the devil is in the details.

How exactly do you catch a snapping turtle?

Jasper, outdoorsman extraordinaire, of course came through with the answer. His step-by-step instructions are informative and silly enough that someone should make a how-to video to go along with them. With his permission, here is his feedback. Mind your fingers.

Jasper's Surefire Turtle Enticement Plan

Note: This enticement plan is not to be sold or used in nature preserves. Distribution is forbidden.

1. Mentally prepare. Get lots of rest and listen to Mozart to sharpen your reflexes. You will need them.

2. Go shopping. Find the most expensive seafood market in the Bay Area and splurge on a primo cut of Chilean Sea Bass. Season to taste. Alternatively, go to your local market and buy the cheapest fish carcass they will let you purchase.

3. Get a net. Surely you or one of your neighbors has a good-sized fishing net. It should be at least 2 feet across.

4. Find a ropey thing. If you have a fish stringer with a metal spike end, you can pierce that through the fish carcass. If not, find some string or line to attach to your "bait". Remember that your target is equipped with a sharp, talon-like beak that can cut through thin string, so don't raid Deb's sewing thread supply.

5. Face your foe. Go to his home and watch. Snappers travel along the bottom and will often leave a trail of bubbles on the surface when they move (LOL, I actually first typed "love" for some reason!).

6. Cast your fishes. No sane snapper can resist a dead fish. If you can drop that fish anywhere near him you will feel some tugging on your line. Of course, there is always the chance that your turtle is not sane and his appearance was no accident, but we'll ignore that possibility for the moment.

7. Invite him in. When you feel the tell-tale tugs, pull very gently and slowly toward you. As you continue pulling toward you slowly with your left hand, reach slowly for the net that I forgot to tell to you place at your feet. Call frantically for a neighbor to retrieve your net. Did you remember to pee before starting step 2? Now is not the time.

8. Net him, damn it! If all is going to plan, you should begin to see a rotting fish corpse rising slowly to the surface with a hungry turtle riding it like Willie Shoemaker. Willie Shoemaker with a beak full of dead fish. If he sees you, he will likely drop said fish and return to the muddy bottom. You must activate your net as soon as you lay eyes on him. Swoop in and claim you prize! Net hard and deep!

9. Celebrate. Nothing goes with snapper like a 2004 Pinot Grigio. Keep your extremeties away from his "business" end. That's the part that goes "snap." All snapping turtles come with a handy carrying handle on the opposite end and enjoy seeing the world while suspended from their tail. Remember that they have reaalllllly long necks though...

The largest snapper I ever caught with this technique? 23 inches across the carapace!

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