Fishing for turtles is a low-tech affair and requires very few licenses.

According to Len Yokum, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement captain for Region 7, a basic recreational fishing license is all that is needed to fish drop lines, jug lines or trotlines, whether for fish or turtles.

However, limits are low for alligator snapping turtles, he cautioned. Only one may be taken per day per person per vehicle.

No commercial take of the species is allowed.

No bag limits exist for softshell or common snapping turtles, and in fact with possession of the appropriate licenses the species may be harvested commercially.

There are no minimum size restrictions on harvest for any of the above species.

Common snapping turtles can be easy for the beginner to confuse with alligator snappers, but their appearance is very different. Alligator snappers have three prominent rows of ridges on their carapace (back shell). The carapace is smooth in common snappers.

The bite of both species is legendary, and both are willing biters. So care should be taken with common snappers because their powerfully muscled necks are built to shoot out at blinding speed to deliver their bite.

Alligator snappers have much larger and stronger jaws, but their necks are not built to extend their jaws out to deliver a lightning-fast bite like a common snapper’s. 

In simple terms, the alligator snapper is best described as a “biting turtle” and the common snapper a “snapping turtle.”