San Antonio

Texas man reels in, releases gigantic alligator snapping turtle

A Father’s Day weekend fishing journey turned much more memorable for one Texas man and his household after he reeled in his greatest catch but.

Justin Broomhall, of Longview, packed up his fishing gear and took his father and his son to Lake Cherokee for a celebratory fishing outing.

After establishing their reels and their fishing spot, Broomhall cast his line hoping to catch a catfish, when he observed an unfamiliar stillness within the water.

“When we were out there fishing, the catfish just, like, vanished,” Broomhall stated. “When it goes quiet like that and you go away, there’s normally a predator around.”

Another boat was heading of their path and Broomhall stated he thought possibly the predator was a big catfish. So, he threw in a fishing line with bait and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than he caught the surprising.

“The line went tight and when I set the hook, I realized it wasn’t a catfish because it didn’t move,” Broomhall stated. “When I started reeling in on it, come to find out it was a big turtle. We were fighting for a good 15-20 minutes and by the time we got him up to the shore, he broke the line.”

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Broomhall estimated that the large alligator snapping turtle weighed round 170 kilos and was possible over 100 years outdated. Just to tug it to shore required energy from Broomhall and his father.

“I didn’t want him to swallow that hook or it get infected. So, I slid off in the water and grabbed him and my dad grabbed me,” he stated. “[The turtle] was old enough that he was starting to go blind in his eyes. His eyes got a hazing over and he had a bunch of big, old scars on him where he’d been fighting to survive from other predators.”

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, these turtles sometimes have a “triangularly-shaped head, with a pointed nose and a pronounced hook in their beak.” They even have three rows of “extremely prominent ridges” on their backs.

Alligator snapping turtles are one in all two varieties of snapping turtles present in Texas and are an endangered species, the TPWD said, which is why Broomhall freed it from the hook earlier than releasing it again into the lake.

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“When we released him, he actually, when he started swimming off, he came up out of the water, like kind of like saying ‘goodbye’ and disappeared,” Broomhall stated. “[He] looked back at us and he just sunk back to the bottom and will never be seen again.”

After having been an avid fisherman all his life, Broomhall stated this catch was “the biggest one he’s caught by far” and it’ll stick with him and his household for years to return.

“It’s God’s creation. He’s got to live and many years he would be here before we were here,” Broomhall stated. “And he’ll be here long after we’re gone.”

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