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It was another wild day at Sterling State Park this morning. It just didn't start off that way.
I got there about 7:30AM this morning armed with nightcrawlers (which I didn't end up using), waxworms and minnows. I started off with the norm, two poles cast out off the bottom using minnows and another pole rigged with a bobber in shallow water about a foot above a minnow.
I got a bite about 8AM on my medium action pole cast out with a minnow off the bottom, but it was just that-A bite.
Then I waited, I waited, and I waited for another bite, which happened about 9AM. I got a series of hits on the bobber which I guess was in just a couple feet of water, which I ended up catching a sheephead. It was rather close to shore too, which I thought was odd for the 9" sheephead. Normally I don't catch them in that shallow of water and about six feet from shore.
After that I waited another hour and decided to bring my medium action pole in, move the pole with the bobber to the other side of the pier but still in shallow water (I'm guess about three feet off the pier and in 4' of water). I then busted out my ultra light pole and waxworms and see if I could find some bluegills along the sides of the pier and soon caught a couple bluegills a hair smaller then my hand.
About 10:30AM I got a series of taps on my heavy action pole and after each little tap my line would get a little slack. I grabbed the pole, straightened my line, and kept feeling the light taps but when I set the hook it was a very good fight, even on the heavy action pole and 25 lb. test line. After a couple jumps out of the air it showed itself to be a very healthy and good sized longnose gar. After landing it I took a picture of it and measured it out at 35"-my longest fish ever and without actually weighing it I'd guess it was every bit of five pounds.
That wasn't the heaviest *thing* I caught today. After releasing the gar and going back to targeting bluegills, about 11AM I noticed my bobber was going straight down, then coming straight up, going back straight down, and going back straight up. Thinking maybe it was rubbing up against vegetation, a set the hook anyways and tried to get the rig out of what I thought was a mess. Well, it ended up being more like a train wreck, and it had nothing to do with vegetation. It ended up being the mother of all turtles. I eventually got the snapping turtle close and away from the pier at the same time since it kept trying to go underneath it. So I hurried to get my net into my right hand (my dominant hand) and tried to net it. Pass after pass after agonizing pass I got it in my net, but the real problem was lifting it over. It took damn near all my body weight to level my net and then land it over the railing. Let's just say the snapping turtle was so big, it bent my net.
I'll repeat with all seriousness, the bastard bent my net where the handle meets the net itself. I didn't get to weight it, but it had to be 25+ pounds. After landing the snapping turtle it spat the hook out, and I got a halfway decent measure on it-12" across at its base and an estimate only measure of 18" long from where it had its head sitting on the top of my net and where the tail was out. It was so big, its head was literally the size of my fist, and I only know that because I had my fist clenched just in case it wanted at me. It sat on my net for a good five minutes before another guy checking out the fishing moved around to one side of the turtle and I stayed on one side of it and it bolted to the water. It was so big, it almost didn't make it under the lowest board of the side of the pier.
After that I waited around for some more action on my other two poles (after catching the turtle, I cast my medium action pole back out). After about an hour of nothing I decided to call it a day about 12:30PM.
 
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