Turtle meat has a texture similar to chicken but with a more distinct flavor and therefore people have been using snapping turtle meat to put in soups and stews for years. If you have tried it or would like to try and cook your own pot of turtle soup, here are a few different ways you can go about catching them. Make sure you have the appropriate license, such as a regular fishing license, in the state that you are catching them in and find out how many you are allowed to keep. Make sure they are regular snapping turtles because alligator snapping turtles are endangered in several states.
1. Fishing poles- Put a piece of cut-bait on a few poles with heavy sinkers and sharp hooks, such as number 1 size hooks or bigger. You may see the tip of the pole moving just a little bit, as apposed to catfish that are more likely to just bite and take off. Make sure they have a good hold of the bait and set the hook. You may miss them some because it can be hard to hook them at times, but they are likely to come right back. You might also catch a few catfish!
2. Netted logs- Get some big hooks and screw them to a big log or tree in the water in a line going all the way to the end. Put a round or square net about 2 or 3 feet in diameter at the end of the tree in the water. The net should have p.v.c. or styrofoam to keep it floating and it should be closed at the bottom. You can also use some type of cage. Tie a piece of meat to the end of the tree and when the turtle climbs onto it and heads to the meat, it wont be able to go back down the tree because of the hooks, which leaves it the only option of jumping off the end where your net is at. You can do this to a few floating logs and check the nets regularly. Make sure there aren’t any laws prohibiting you from using this method in your state.
3. Throw lines- Grab some nylon string and some pieces off at 20 or 30 feet. Put a big egg sinker on each one with a sharp hook at the end. Put your cut-bait or any other bait they like that will stay on the hook, such as scrap deer meat or pork fat. Tie the other end to a tree or rock really good and throw out the bait. Wait a little while and check them by pulling the line up out of the water a little bit and see if there’s any tugging on it. You can also take an empty soup can, screw 3 hooks inside it with the tips pointing toward each other and drill a hole in the bottom of the can for your line to go through. Rig up a way to be able to tie some bait at the bottom of the can as well and use it instead of just a hook. When the turtle reaches his head in to get the bait, he won’t be able to pull his head out because of the hooks. Give a good pull to set the hooks and you will hopefully be pulling a big snapping turtle with a soup can on his head up on the bank!
Make sure you bring a fishing net with you to bring them on shore or into the boat. Be careful when catching snapping turtles because they will bite you if they get the chance, and they have a lightning quick snap that can reach up and backward over their shell. They may even run after you once they are on dry ground!
Further reading from the author:
Spinach Soup with Shrimp Recipe
Different Ways of Catching Catfish
Fishing for Crappie with Crank Baits and Deep Divers
Other related articles:
Reptile Facts: Alligator Snapping Turtle
Ben and Jerry’s Turtle Soup Ice Cream