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Snapping Turtle question

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Here's a question for anyone out there with some knowledge of snapping turtles.  Last summer I began to see this guy frequently in the best pool on one of my favorite fishing streams.  He was there so often that I started calling him "Ernie" (for all I know he could be a she).  To give you an idea of Ernie's size, his shell is roughly as big as a toilet seat.  Last summer/autumn the water was low and I was able to "see and avoid" with him and we had no issues.  The water was warm then and so even when I didn't see him I'm sure he would swim away from me if I waded to close.  But currently the water is waist deep and I can't see the bottom while I wade.  It's also cold so the turtle is really sluggish, add in that I'm being as stealthy as possible and I'm a little concerned about kicking or stepping on him-  Should I be?.  

Thanks all-

 

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I wouldn't think you would have much to worry about to be honest. I've had a lot of them in the Au Sable where I fish/wade for smallmouth & pike and usually once you get with in about 3-4 ft of them they are pretty apt to move out of the way. I would probably still be a little cautious of watching my step though while the water is still cold just to be on the safe side, but I would be pretty surprised if one didn't just move itself even if you did happen to touch one.

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Thanks Steve. Yours  is the prevailing opinion from what I’m reading online. Also their notorious bad attitude is usually displayed only when their on dry land.  The “experts” say they feel secure in water.  I’m still going to be a little cautious.  

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Yup while in water they are actually pretty docile and will do everything they can to not deal with you or anything else. Out of water they are more aggressive. I've messed around with a couple over the years picking them up (about 20" dia shell) and I can tell ya that they can stick that neck up and reach about half way around to the back of their shell 😲😁

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Back when I was 'belly boating' in the local lake, I had several big ones stick their prehistoric heads out of the water and hiss at me.   No charge, just a territorial warning or a courting gesture -- never knew which. 

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My local WW creek is full of snapping turtles that get to the size of trash can lids. Snapping turtles have a fierce reputation but honestly they will not bother you one bit. Problem # 1 for a snapping turtle is that they cannot retract their head, legs and tail into their shells like other turtles. Problem # 2 is they are just as slow as any other turtle. Since they can't tuck away in their shell or out run anything they defend themselves by snapping. They will leave before you step on them in the water. Just don't go poking at one with the tip of your fly rod . 

Here's one that swam up to within a foot of me and then turned around and went about his day. 

 

snap.jpg

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37 minutes ago, Rocco said:

just a territorial warning or a courting gesture -- never knew which.

Definitely the best answer so far - lol  

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Like everyone else has said, they won't bother you, but worth being cautious to not somehow manage to step on it. If its too big of a problem they taste pretty good 😁. A royal pain to clean, but they aren't bad eating. 

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Usually they will try to stay away from you.  I do know of one in a local pond that comes up when he see anyone because he thinks it’s dinner time.  Neighbors kids fed him bread on a regular basis, now he sees people and thinks food.  He’s never gone after a fly, but has snatched fish as I was pulling them in.

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13 hours ago, Poopdeck said:

Just don't go poking at one with the tip of your fly rod . 

 

"Hello LL Bean, I'm going to need a replacement rod because I was poking a snapping turtle with the rod tip.  Under your lifetime warranty is that considered normal use"?

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Losing the end of a nice rod to a critter with teeth is a regular possibility where I am down in the salt and brackish portions of the Everglades.... and the animal that eats your rod tip isn't likely to return it.  I actually did have one angler years ago that stripped a shark fly all the way to the tip of the rod and stood there open mouthed as the small shark (about six feet long) ate the fly and the end of the rod at the same time... Add alligators to that list as well... 

 

My few experiences with snapping turtles were when I was just a kid in north Alabama where alligator snapping turtles got bigger than I ever wanted to tangle with...   For many years now, fishing the Everglades, we see turtles of every size and description from freshwater soft shells (local name "cooter" and supposed to be great eating...) out to where it's saltwater turtles from less than 12" across the shell up to four feet and bigger (leatherbacks, hawksbills, etc).  Those guys, no matter how big they get never bother anyone at all.....

No, I would not recommend wading any of the places we fish since the water is dark and there are toothy critters everywhere from brackish all they way out to the salt... The bull shark is our primary concern up in areas where the water is mostly fresh - and they're in great numbers along the coast as well... Funny thing - any rivers with large numbers of sea turtles will also have the occasional tiger shark (they're actually designed to eat turtle -  with each tooth shaped like a can opener....).

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There used to be a bar in town that regularly served fresh turtle meat usually in a soup.

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2 minutes ago, feathers5 said:

There used to be a bar in town that regularly served fresh turtle meat usually in a soup.

And they come with their own bowl!

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5 hours ago, Capt Bob LeMay said:

.No, I would not recommend wading any of the places we fish since the water is dark and there are toothy critters everywhere from brackish all they way out to the salt... The bull shark is our primary concern up in areas where the water is mostly fresh - and they're in great numbers along the coast as well... Funny thing - any rivers with large numbers of sea turtles will also have the occasional tiger shark (they're actually designed to eat turtle -  with each tooth shaped like a can opener....).

 Agreed, with a few exceptions, namely bears and PETA hippies (bear spray repels them too by the way) the wild life gets more toxic and dangerous as you get closer you get to the equator. 

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On 5/18/2021 at 8:12 AM, skeet3t said:

And they come with their own bowl!

Haha, yep.

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