How To Catch A Turtle With A Fishing Pole – Tricks And Facts

Are you looking for an effective way on how to catch a turtle with a fishing pole? Using this technique can be quite tough because you need some tools to do that. If you know how to use this fishing technique, then you will have an enjoyable experience.

In many areas, anglers hunt turtles for their meat and eggs while some people fish to keep them as pets. Catching them can be a little bit tricky but it is not impossible when you come prepared. You should be in the right location and with the right tools. Let’s get right into it.

There are several things that you need to catch a turtle with a fishing pole. These essential things include:

1. Strong and Sturdy Fishing pole

As turtles are heavier than fish, you will need a substantial fishing pole that has the right flexibility and right tension and one that is not lightweight to prevent the pole from breaking after trapping the turtle. Choose a strong fishing pole.

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2. An Appropriate bait

Fish makes the right bait for turtle because it has a good portion of the wild turtle's diet. Additionally, it is the most effective bait you can have in a live trap. Meaty foods either dead or alive attract turtles the most. Fish such as minnows, bluegills, and small bass are great options for live baits.

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When setting the bait, make sure it’s not loose. A looser bait will not work for turtles as they’ll pull it right off the hook and run with it. Anglers also use fish scraps or catfish heads as they’re easy to find and inexpensive.

3. Bobbers and Hooks

Bobbers help tell if you have something on the hook and possibly determine if it’s a turtle or a fish on the line. When turtles catch the bait, they pull the bobber down remaining with it down. 

Turtles do not swim around as a fish does. They head straight down to the bottom of the water to feed. Therefore, having the right bobber can save you trouble and make the catch easy and worthwhile.

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4. Slip Sinkers

Slip sinkers are lead weights that are slid onto the line. You will need one that separates the bobber and the hook as you know they should be very close to each other. Add a slip sinker to not only separate the two but also to give additional weight to the line, thus sinking the bait underwater where the turtles stay. 

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So slip sinker prevents the bait from floating up too high which makes it difficult for the turtle to get close enough. The sinkers come in various sizes and shapes, choose the one that suits your preferences.

Fishing In The Right Spot

Fishing In The Right Spot

Sometimes it’s not about the right bait but the right spot, now that turtles live almost anywhere in the water but concentrated in specific places.

While looking for signs of turtles, it is easier to notice their presence since they like to come out of the water to bask in the sun, therefore, check for turtle tracks in muddy sand or you can set out a bait, and if it disappears then you might just be on the right spot.

In a spot where they’re hiding underwater, you are likely to see a little turtle nose that is less than an inch above the surface, sticking out to breathe.

Also, it might be difficult to find turtles during the day unless if they are enough in the area while after dusk and up to midnight you might spot one or two using a flashlight.

Be Familiar With Local Laws

Due to excessive fishing and the commercial pet trade, turtle fishing is now illegal in some areas. They can be a part of the ecosystem and removing too much of them can have negative effects on that ecosystem.

It is crucial to check first with the local laws to determine a place to fish. Other areas now require permits to be able to fish, so be sure to inquire if there’s one before going fishing.

Also, inquire if the place you intend to fish is private or public land. Not all places are free for fishing and some may require a permit to avoid trespassing.

Using a Fishing Pole

Using a Fishing Pole

Gripping the fishing pole with your dominant hand, your hands need to be placed closer to the reel. Cast out the pole and allow it to make a catch. You’ll feel the weight if there’s a catch on the end of the line. Then, reel the line gently while keeping the turtle at the surface of the water.

Depending on the scarcity of turtles at the spot you’re fishing give it some time. You can also change spots if you miss a catch after a specific time.

Unhooking a Turtle After Trapping

When unhooking, use extreme caution as turtles can extend their neck to more than one foot and bite. A bite from a turtle can be very serious and in most cases causing finger loss or severe lacerations.

Turtles come in various types, some small, some large, some more aggressive than others. The Snapping turtles, for example, can bite hard even though they have no teeth. Oftentimes they swallow hooks, forcing you to cut the fishing line as close to the turtle’s mouth thus giving the turtle the best chance to survive.

For a small turtle, you can remove the hook using your hands or needle-nose pliers. Apply the same method you would apply for a fish and then do the reverse of how you had the hook in place before fishing after getting a good grip with the pliers or hands.

The big-sized turtle is always very aggressive and they struggle too much wanting to go back to the water. So covering them with a piece of clothing will help when holding them.

Place a large stick in their mouth for them to bite if too aggressive. And after a while, if they’ve calmed down, remove the hook with a pair of pliers. Also for more protection, you can wear a pair of thick gloves.


Fishing for turtles is easy, just with the right technique. Turtles may get very nervous. Therefore, make sure you remove your new catch immediately from the hook before it gets stressed. Always remember the basics when catching turtles with a fishing pole. Doing so can make you get a good catch or miss a great catch.

Watch To Learn how to catch a turtle with a fishing pole

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Matt Bartlett

Outside is always better .I'm an avid Traveler, Cyclist, Paddler,Hiker, Outdoor Adventurer, Sports Lover & Wannabe Runner. I write about adventures and share them on my website and for other outdoor publications. . Wannabe Runner Love being outdoors.I enjoy sharing outdoor experiences with others.

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