Lakeland man catches 719-pound gator

Lakeland, Florida -- A Lakeland man had a big wrestling match on Sunday night as he caught a 719-pound alligator in a private phosphate pit south of Bartow.

"We called him in with an electronic call,'' Clark Woodsby told The Lakeland Ledger. "This gator heard it from across the lake, and it came bee-lining right toward me.

"When it got within about 20 yards, we turned the call off. I shot it with a crossbow right in the shoulder.''

"It was a monster,'' said Woodsby, who is senior operating partner for Talk of the Town Restaurants.

PHOTOS:Hugh gator caught in Bartow phosphate pit

"It was technically 12 feet, 10 inches, but there was about 4 inches of tail missing because of a fight, according to the trapper I went with,'' he said.

Woodsby was hunting with Glen Grizzaffe of Winter Haven, a licensed trapper who owns an alligator processing business in Plant City. The landowner called them to take care of the gator, that was considered a nuisance.

Lakeland native George Tavrides of Tampa and Chris Rivers of Okeechobee also were in on the hunt.

After shooting the crossbow, with its string attached to a buoy, Woodsby and Grizzaffe managed to get a snatch hook with a heavier-gauge rope into the gator, and after pulling on it for an hour got the animal into a 14-foot jonboat.

The Florida state record for gators length-wise is 14 feet, 3 1/2 inches. It was killed in Brevard County in 2010 at the Lake Washington area on the St. Johns River by Robert "Tres" Ammerman of Pine Hills. It weighed 654 pounds.

The heaviest gator on record in Florida is 1,043 pounds on Orange Lake in 1989. The 13-foot, 10 1/2-inch brute was also a nuisance gator.

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