as summer waned we had a decision to either hit a few ponds and creeks or call it quits for the season. the water was cooling fast and we knew the turtles would be shutting down soon. our catch had fallen off and we knew to push things would be a gamble. we decided to go for it one last run. win lose or draw we were turtle trappers first and the only loss we hoped would be not going for it.
it was labor day weekend and we decided to hit a few ponds first heavy and pull after one night. if we set heavy we figured we would have a good chance. we figured wrong as 6 nets in 3 ponds only netted one turtle. disappointed but still determined we decided to go to the creek we had been driving past all summer and set it up while our bait still had some freshness to it. we guessed it would only be good another day. not paying attention to the weather proved to be a big mistake.
that night a 2 inch rain fell and the creek swelled up over the banks. we hadnt staked our nets but i doubt it would have made little difference.
the next morning i went to pull the nets only to find the water was 2 feet higher and the nets were nowhere in sight. thinking i could rescue the nets from the rushing water proved wrong. a lot was learned that day on how powerful rushing water can be and it is not to be taken lightly. a mistake i will just say i wont be making anytime soon.
it took days before the water went down enough to venture back in. nearly a week in fact. we walked the banks every day but we could see through the murky water. we waded in when it felt safe and probed the waters but to no avail. once it had gotten back to its original level we decided to make a serious effort to find our nets. we expected the worst yet hoped for the best. nets could be replaced we knew. trapped turtles would have perished however and to waste their lives needlessly would be our biggest regret. the nets we feared may have been washed to the river.
we didnt expect much but luck would be on our side. sand bars with snags had indeed caught our nets. twisting in the strong current would prove too much collapsing them and sinking them to the bottom. the pvc poles had washed away but those are easily replaced. the nets were none for the worst. one turtle was all that was lost. a softshell. we took its remains and returned them to the waters. we knew with the crayfish and minnow population it would not go to waste.
and so with that we decided to call it a season. lucky we had one at all. a few days before the season opened my best friend and partner was involved in an automobile accident which nearly cost them their life. a slit second decision saved lives that day. it seemed at that moment the season would be on hold if at all. still determined we started later than expected but once we got things going we never looked back. a lot was learned this year on the line. some dreams came true and some did not. challenges were met and some exceeded our expectations while others handed us rears back to us. but we never gave up hope that come hardship or high water we finish out the year putting everything we had into it. we had learned near seasons end that a buyer had backed out leaving us with almost our entire seasons catch of over 2000 pounds of live turtles. never the less we explored other markets. regardless we felt we had a good season.