August 05, 2010 at 10:58am
I'll be happy to answer your questions best I can.
**NOTE: This is for the Lottery Alligator hunts. The rules are likely different if you have private land tags.
1. You can put out twice as many lines as you have tags. i.e. 3 tags, put out 6 lines. 2 tags left, put out 4 lines, 1 tag, 2 lines.
2. The height of the bait will help determine the size of the gator you can catch. I started off putting mine about 24' above the water. I caught a 10' on the first day. I also caught a 6' on one of my lower lines. I didn't fill my third tag because I kept my remaining 2 baits high trying to catch a 12 footer we had seen several times. I probably could have lowered the bait and caught a smaller one if I wanted.
You must keep and tag whatever you catch so if it's only a 3 footer-it's yours.
3.If available, you can tie off the line to a tree or sink a long willow pole or even a 2x4. The bait is then suspended over the water by clipping with a clothes pin hanging from a limb, stick or piece of PVC pipe. The gator will pull the bait out of the clip and swallow it and get hooked in the stomach. I used about 30' of heavy twine and a large hook. I bought the twine and hooks at Gus's Tackle in Slidell.
4.The law says you can only catch them on the lines and then shoot to kill them. Shooting them while free swimming is not allowed. (Also, they will sink if shot and you probably won't find them)
5. The market for gators last year was very poor and will probably be the same or worse this year. I didn't sell mine. I skinned them out myself for the meat and kept the hides to get tanned. I'm a taxidermist so I did it myself. They tell you at the mandatory lottery class that if you think you will make money, you should really just forget it. For me it was about the experience and the excitement.
6. If you end up catching more gators than you have tags for, they ask you to look for other gator hunters and offer to give the gator to them. If not, you cannot keep it and must cut it loose even though it will likely die.
The gators will generally stay in a home area. Riding at night and looking is a good way to locate one. Also large 'slides' on the bank where they lay and enter the water is also a good place. I saw my big one riding around during the day on the weekend before. I set and caught him in the exact spot.
If you have a lot of small gators, you want to keep the bait high enough to keep from catching a small one. I used chicken leg quarters and set my lines in the afternoon/evening and checked them the next morning. You can leave the bait if not eaten up by bugs or too dried out from the sun.
In addition to the recreational lottery tags, most WMA's also have some commercial hunters that get to hunt there. I've heard some stories of cut lines, etc. so I recommend trying to find an area that no one else is using.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.