WHEN SEEKING food, snappers like to work close to shore. Taking refuge in undercut banks, around snags and downed trees, they lie in wait for food. Snapping turtles are mainly meat eaters and will take it dead or alive. With a keen sense of smell, they will soon locate your sets. Tie your lines to tree roots, snags, stumps and the like. Since snappers do most of their prowling at night, set the lines at dusk and run them the next morning.
Taking turtles with float lines may not be new, but it certainly pays off. When the Division of Wildlife legalized float line fishing in 1955, chances are no thought was given to its effectiveness in taking turtles. The law says float line fishing is permitted in all streams, and in parts of Sandusky Bay and portions of Mosquito Lake, Trumbull County, and in Berlin Reservoir, Mahoning County. Actually the law was designed to help fishermen take such species as shovelhead and channel catfish, carp and other large fish. But do not hesitate to set them in small ponds for turtles.
The results man can obtain using float lines in small private lakes and farm ponds are amazing. All you need to equip yourself for such a venture are a few pieces of two-by-fours (12 inches long) the same number of wood staples, heavy string, turtle hooks and beef neck. You'll also need the landowner's permission.
Drive a staple in the middle of each piece of wood. Cut the staging into six foot lengths and knot the ends together. This makes your lines each about three feet long and strong enough to hold the critter (you may need that extra strength too). Slip the staging through the eye of the hook and pull up tightóuse the same procedure through the staple.
The only thing left to do is bait the hooks and "set" the floats. Don't be stingy with that meat. Thread as much on each hook as it will hold, throw the floats out into the pond and retire for the night. If there are turtles in the pond, chances are you'll have one, or more, the next morning.
|When the snapper grabs your bait, he will head for shore. After mouthing it for a while, he'll swallow it hook and all. To enjoy his repast he crawls into a muskrat hole, under vegetation, or may even bury himself in the muck. If your floats are close to shore, a slight pull will tell you whether you were successful. You may have to pull with all your might but keep tugging and he'll come out hissing. Occasionally a hooked turtle may become entangled in the vegetation so he can't make it to shore. If so, you may have to go out after him.
MOST SUCCESSFUL float line turtle hunters say June, July and August are the best months. They also claim the dark of the moon is most productive.
Many turtle hunters prefer to catch their snappers in traps. Ohio laws say traps may be constructed of wire or twine with square mesh at least four inches on a side, and without wings or leads.
Traps of this type are usually three to four feet long and two to two and one-half feet high. They resemble a greatly enlarged version of a minnow trap. The opening must be large enough to permit your quarry to enter but so constructed that once inside he cannot escape. The entrance should be formed like a funnel with the opening either square or oblong.
While traps may be set in lakes or ponds, they usually catch more turtles when set in streams or large bays where there is a strong current. They must be baited of course. The kind of bait used is a matter of personal choice. Some turtle trappers use bloody beef, others chicken entrails or liver. Plenty of turtles are also taken in traps bated with a punctured can of sardines or coagulated blood.
WHEN SETTING a turtle trap, don't make the mistake of completely submerging it. Although turtles are able to remain under water for considerable periods of time, they must come to the surface occasionally for air. Also make certain the trap is well anchored.