For Jimmy Parris, seeing the reaction of the crowd that his 10 1/2-foot gator drew on the docks Tuesday afternoon was almost as much fun as pulling it out of the bay.
Parris, along with buddy Chris Bent, both of Santa Rosa Beach, hauled in a huge gator in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday and brought it down to the scales at HarborWalk Marina to see how much it weighed.
"This is just as much fun," Parris said as he saw folks gather around snapping photos with their cell phones as the gator was hoisted up on the scales. "I guess this is my five minutes of fame."
The gator tilted the scales at 345 pounds.
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Even a couple of days after landing the gator, Parris was still reeling with excitement.
"I feel like I could run for county commissioner and win," he laughingly said Thursday morning. "It felt like I was a rock star!"
The two guys went out Monday evening about 8 o'clock in search of a gator. However Parris said, "We knew where we were looking. We've seen a lot up there before."
Parris and Bent, who have four gator tags between them, were not giving away any particular spots, but did say they were on Choctawhatchee Bay in Walton County.
Hunting for gator at night is a bit ominous.
"All you can see is red eyes" on the water, Parris said.
They hooked one early in the evening, but lost it.
A little after midnight they saw the big one.
"We had to run up on him twice and try and cast," Parris said.
At one point, "I happened to look behind us and saw a little wake and tossed out at it, and we were hooked up," he said.
Parris snatch hooked the gator on a spinning rod with 65-pound braided line.
Bent was able to get another snatch hook in him and they fought the gator for about an hour.
"He went out and got into deep water and he just wouldn't come up off the bottom," Parris said. "We'd pull him up and he'd go back down. He'd come up every once in a while and blow a bunch of air out and scare both of us.
"We finally tired him out … put another hook in him and then hit him with a bang stick. We hit him twice with a bang stick just for good measure. That was it. He was done. Then our work started."
The two tried to figure out the logistics of getting a 10 ½ foot gator on a 15-foot aluminum boat.
"We couldn't get it in the boat," Bent said. "It was too heavy, so we drug it back to the dock."
Last year, Bent had the gator tags and they snatched an 8-footer.
"We've got three more tags," Parris said. "We're going back when we rest … it was a long day."