THE MAN who caught the monster of Earlswood Lakes - an 80-year-old alligator snapping turtle - has this week told the News of the moment he tamed the beast.
Stephen Bellion, aged 23, said the 57lb giant turtle gave him a “real shock” and nearly bit off his finger.
Stephen, who is recovering from a broken shoulder, said: “I was fishing for carp on halibut pellets, and at first thought I’d just hooked a log as there was no struggle.”
Stephen, a Civil Servant who lives in Dovehouse Lane, added: “It was like I was pulling in a dead weight.
“Two other people helped me to get it in.”
As soon as Stephen and passers-by had landed the 3ft by 2ft turtle from the Engine Pool, he contacted British Waterways who moved it to West Midlands Safari Park.
The turtle is believed to have been a pet which grew too big - and some time in the 60s or 70s was released into the lake by its owner.
The ancient female, which has been snapping angler’s lines and reportedly attacking ducks for decades, has been caught a few times before but has always managed to escape back into the lake.
This time Stephen sat on her until help arrived.
“It was a real shock when it first came to the surface,” he added. “It was still until I got it into the net and then it started hissing and snapping at me.
“Luckily the hook came out as I netted it - I wouldn’t have wanted to put my hand in its mouth! Actually it nearly bit my finger off!”
The alligator snapping turtle, is native to the southern United States and can grow to more than 60lb in weight.
It is now residing at West Midlands Safari Park.