Trophy Alligator Hunting in Central Florida
By Hayden Finnigan
Gator hunting is all about stealth. The best approaching method to catching these dinosaurs is to stay as close as you can to the brush or trees around the area you are hunting. Stay out of sight as much as possible and if needed put your boat into the duck weeds or lily pads to be less noticeable. Be silent, don’t move around in the boat or open and close hatches you will spook the gators. Keep the trolling motor on low to reduce noise. Keep the boat positioned in front of the gator’s nose or behind the gator – they cannot see directly in front with their eyes.
First you got to cast a heavy spinning outfit to snag the gator, then harpoon it and finish the job with a bang stick. The rod and reel combination is a Penn Battle 6000 reel on a 7ft medium heavy rod with 65 lb. braided line tied to a 11/0 weighted treble hook. The 65lb test works better than 80 lb. because you must deliver long accurate casts for huge trophy gators.
The best time to hunt is beginning of first light until about 10:30 am. Use binoculars to spot them swimming across the top of the water. The other best time is just as the sun is going down and into the night. At night, use big head lamps and/or spot lights. When you’re looking around the area, keep the beam of light up just above the water line and scan back and forth until you see big glowing red eyes. Don’t shine the light directly into the eyes, they will spook – especially the larger gators because they’ve been hunted before. When you get a gator in casting distance and you make a cast but miss, go right over where the gator was and look for bubbles rising to the surface then blind cast near those bubbles. When you hook a gator and you are fighting it they sometimes stick to the bottom and you cannot get them to move. The best technique is start up the big motor and rev the engine to scare him off the bottom so you can start working him in. Once up to the surface use a 3-inch harpoon tip on a 6-foot pole with about 20 feet of rope tied to a jug or buoy. Harpoon it in the body as close to the head as possible to maintain control. The harpoon allows you to bring the gator up close to use the bang stick – a 6-foot stick with a firing mechanism that shoots a .44 mag bullet. Fire the bullet right between the eyes, this spot is the softest part on their skull it is where the brain is located.
Captain Butch Finnigan and good friend Captain Matt Herndon are the best captains to hire for a trophy alligator hunt. Special thanks to Central Florida Trophy Hunts to allow us to bring our wild game harvest – whether it’s gator, deer, or wild hogs they do it all from skinning to processing the animals as well as mounts, belts and accessories.