Using bait is a very effective way to get an alligator
Bait is a very effective way to get an alligator even though it is not as exciting as sneaking up on them and harpooning them. The one important thing to remember is that in Florida you must keep the line attached to the boat at all times. The way that we have been most effective is to take a section of small rope and attach it to the bait with the peg. Then we attach a fifty foot section of ¼- inch rope. We then attach hundreds of feet of small rope or line and wind it all up on an electrical cord reel. When we put the bait out where a alligator has been hanging out, we just leave out line as we move the boat away. When the alligator grabs the bait he will then have line on the spool to run with if he wants to. Once you feel that he has swallowed the bait you can then have someone reeling in the line as you move towards the alligator. Once you get close to the gator you have a few options. One is to just slowly pull up the gator and harpoon it when you see it. Another option is to use a rope and a big hook to try to snag the gator and pull it up. Doing this you are less likely to pull the bait back out of the gator. However, some of the places you get them does not lend itself to using a big hook. If you are pulling him up by the bait and he goes to run we just let it take the line out and start over again. We have had baits come loose with little pressure and then we have had to pull gators out from thick nasty weed beds. If they go into thick weeds, having a wood pole with a hook on it, or long gaff, helps to be able to sort through the weeds and follow the line without having to put your hands down there. We have used the hooks used to hang bikes and screwed them in the end of a wood pole. Never use your hands to pull off weeds. You never know where the head of the gator could be. When reeling in the line you know when you get to the heavier line you are fifty feet from the bait. One other way we keep track of the bait and gator is to clip a buoy on the line a good distance from the bait. This will allow you to shine a light and easily see the bait from a long ways away. If you see eyes when you check on your bait, turn off the light wait a little while and see if he gets it. You can pull on the line and see if you feel the alligator on the bait. In order for the gator find the bait, the bait needs to float or be suspended above the water by hanging it from a tree limb, bush or a pole driven into the lake bottom. Keep in mind when hanging the bait above the water, the higher you hang the bait, the bigger the gator it takes to reach it.
If you want to use bait you might be wondering what should I use?. We have used many things successfully. Chickens, road kill critters, liver, lungs and fish have all produced. The key things to remember is it must not be submerged in the water and the easier it is to smell the quicker the gator will find it. The bigger the bait, the bigger the gator it will take to swallow it. We have had big gators quickly swallow a whole chicken and have had little ones just tear a chicken apart to eat the little pieces. We have caught many ten plus foot alligators on a tilapia from Wal-Mart.
To attach the small rope and peg to the bait we sometimes use a piece of wire or clothes hanger to thread the rope through the bait like a sewing needle.