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Will I See Snapping Turtles and Soft Shell Turtles While Fishing?

Snapping Turtles and Soft Shell Turtles Can Make A Fishing Trip More Interesting


When fishing we run into some interesting turtles. Snapping turtles and soft shell turtles are both interesting and unusual.

The snapping turtle has not shown itself in my pond again. I guess being pulled out of the water by the tail gave it the idea my dock is not a great place to hang out. I have seen some little one swimming around. They look to be about a year old and I can't tell yet if they are common snappers or Alligator Snappers. When they get older their characteristics will develop.

Back in May when we fished a tournament at West Point Lake I saw more soft shell turtles than I had seen in years. They seemed to be in every cove, probably getting ready to lay eggs. They ranged in size from a few inches across the shell to one that looked to be about two feet wide.

Soft shell turtles are very shy, probably because of their soft shell. The shell is not really soft, it feels like leather, but it is not near the protection a hard shell would be. The soft shell makes them much easier to clean so they are prized for those wanting fried turtle or turtle stew.

These turtles look very different, even in the water. The first thing you notice is how flat they are. They look like a pancake! And their shell is usually a light brown, contrasting with the dark brown to black of most other turtles. Since they don't come out of the water except to lay eggs I guess the color blends in better with the lake bottom. They spend most of their lives buried in the sand or mud of a lake or pond bottom, often shallow enough to stick their long neck up to breath without moving.

Their heads look very different, too. The nose is very extended, almost like a snorkel. Since it is so long they can stay deeper in the water with more of their head hidden and still breathe. They usually come up for air then disappear for a long time if you see them swimming around.

Last Sunday in the Flint River Bass Club tournament I saw two soft shells swimming around. They were huge. One looked like it was well over two feet across its back. That means it was probably a female since they get much bigger then males.

Keep your eyes open while on area lakes. You might sight one of these strange turtles, especially if you are at West Point.

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