Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Rainbow Rapids Snapper
I have always said that the real skill in catching Snapping Turtles is nothing more than being in the right place at the right time. In the past I have spent countless hours mucking through god awful foulness that only your worst nightmares could conjure...only to find absolutely nothing but leeches. This past weekend happened to be one of those right place right time kind of incidents. While on a fishing trip in Baldwin Michigan, along with Blasco and Chip Swagerty, to rope ourselves some King Salmon...we happened upon a subsidiary waterway on the Pierre Marquette River near an area called Rainbow Rapids. Climbing up a small incline I took a look out across this vast expanse of backed up boggy looking muck and water. The sun was gleaming down through the trees and across the waters surface when what did my eyes spot...oh a dandy of a snapping turtle just basking away in the afternoon warmth.
From my perch I hollered back to the team..."Blasco you crazy son of a walrus...its show time!" "Swagerty...stand by on back up...this beast looks agile and I might need assistance...that bog could be 30 feet deep for all I know!" Quickly my team rushed across a log strewn mess of tangles and thorn bushes to aid my side.
Handing off the still camera to Blasco I barked commands..."document this bastard...the fight is going to be quick...and we need photographic proof of our discovery!" Turning back toward the beast I quickly began to head toward the battle.
I knew this was a risky catch...the turtle was well aware that I was coming...the beast turned his head back and was watching as I battled the knee deep muck...it was almost as if he was saying to himself..."this guy's nuts...there is no way he is coming out here into this goop to mess with me...but alas...I am nuts...little did he know.
As I got about two feet away from the reptile it decided..."oh shit...this crazy bastard is going to catch me...I better head for the deep waters" The turtle began to quickly swim across the muddy surface...I actually had to lung forward, nearly falling into the deep mud just to get a hold on him.
I made it to the creature just in time and nearly lost him as he clawed like crazy against my hands. He was a younger snapper, probably about 15 years old and his claws were fresh and sharp as razors. Immediately he sliced across the top of my right hand digging deep into the flesh...I actually had to completely drop him before this shot because he cut me so good.
The battle back to dry land was not as difficult as some of the beasts I had battled in the past...but the fight was mighty. This medium sized fighter was all claws and jaws...snapping wildly and fighting me the entire time.
When I finally made it back to where Blasco and Chip were watching and documenting I gently set the fighter down on a log to catch my breath and take a better look a the wounds that were strewn across my hands...I was actually fearful that I would need stitches and being about 3 miles out into the middle of no where was going to make a sew up job a little difficult. Not to mention the 45 minute drive back to civilization and the additional 2 hours to the closest hospital! Thankfully the wounds were nothing more than a little neo-sporin and a band aids could handle.
When it was all said and done I washed the beast off in some cleaner water and we got ready to pose for some pictures. This snapping turtle was one of the most colorful of the species that I have ever seen. It was a male and the coloring was incredible...very redish orange...I wondered if perhaps this was a slight variation on the species considering it was river based and so far north.
Here are a few more victory shots of the Rainbow Rapids beauty...after some great photography I put this little beast back to his original sunning spot where he quickly scurried off and buried down in the deep brackish mud. A great catch...completely random...and one of the highlights of the weekend. Nothing like a little Reptile Show interlude to a weekend of fighting monster salmon in the freezing waters out of lake Michigan!