So the family decided to get together and fish for Mother’s Day Weekend. We opted to chase largemouth bass but didn’t bargain for the alligators.
Especially those in excess of 10 feet long.
We wanted to hit the grass flats and chase drum and trout, but heavy rains the week prior to our outing and high winds changed those plans. Then we thought we might hit a slow moving black-water river, but the gauges rose all night long the night before, so we again made an audible.
Greenfield Lake it was. It was small, close to us in Wilmington, and would be far more protected from high winds than anything else we could think of. This is a really beautiful place. The fishing pressure it gets is obvious, so I don’t really recommend it for a trip as far as angling, but as far as a place to see some really cool wildlife, both reptilian and avian, it’s a must see.
There are bass, gar, bowfin, perch, bream, crappie, pickerel and catfish, but they obviously see everything off the Wal-Mart shelf daily. So we caught fish, and some nice ones too, but it was a serious grind. This was my best bass of the day; a 4 pounder that ate a weightless senko.
As the morning began we drifted slowly and quietly through Cypress trees covered in everything from Bayberry to Poison Ivy. Wax Myrtles and Azaleas surround the lake too, but the Old Man’s Beard hanging from all the Cypress and Sweet Gums is what really catches the eye here.
We had been told that there were rumors of a big alligator here; like a 14 footer. Let me rephrase that, we figured after what we’d been told; there might be an alligator in these waters, like maybe a small one with an exaggerated size to keep people from the small city lake. But we didn’t expect to see close to 10 alligators with 2 of them around 10 plus feet.
But that’s what we got. Here is the video of an 8 plus foot alligator I saw after a few smaller ones.
Then I encountered a bigger gator. This one was easily in excess of 10 feet! Two videos of him follow…
So yes, I probably did cross a line while filming these alligators. It could be said it wasn’t smart to get so close (even though the videos in no way show how close I really was). But I was ready to get away from them at a moments notice, and I kept them in my sight the entire time I was close. When they submerged I stopped filming and got out of the immediate area. I’ve also kept reptiles, both native to NC (when I was a permitted NC wildlife rehabilitator) and exotics in my lifetime (including large constrictors). I am also keenly aware that the intelligence these prehistoric creatures have far surpasses what science would grant them based on their brain size. I knew when I was filming when they were aware of me, when they were ok with me, and when they were tired of my presence. Body language does reveal a lot in the animal kingdom.
I also knew these gators have been in this location a long time and they have never had an incident, even though there are houses all around the lake, and visitors in the waters on a daily basis (there are even kayaks and pedal boats available for visitors to rent in this small lake loaded with alligators).
So I certainly don’t encourage anyone to get as close as I did to a big alligator; no more than I encourage anyone who doesn’t feel able and comfortable to kayak fish in swift water, or to go rock climbing without experience and knowledge. But I do encourage people to get out there and experience stuff like this at whatever level they happen to feel comfortable with. I know my life was enriched by experiencing this yesterday and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Here a few pics of Mom catching her bass.