FALLS LAKE (WTVD) --A local man has quite the fish tale to tell after hooking a gator in Falls Lake, and he has the pictures and video to prove it.
Stephen Rhodes was out at Falls Lake fishing for large mouth bass when he spotted something strange. At first glance he thought it might be a stick or a turtle, at least till he hooked it.
"When I realized I had something different is the weight of it and the way it grabbed it, "said Rhodes. "I caught whatever it was, and that's when I come to realize, reeling it in, it was an alligator. It started twisting, turning, and that's how the line got wrapped around its mouth."
As Rhodes got the gator closer to shore, he estimated it to be between 4 and 5 feet long. He kept it on the line in the water and called authorities. That's when he says he was told that wildlife officers were coming, although he says they never arrived while he was there.
"After 3 hours no one ever showed up, but after the alligator broke loose I called them back to let them know he did get away," explained Rhodes.
The experience has still left its mark on Rhodes. When asked if he'd go swimming in Falls Lake after this experience, he responded, "I would never go, only fishing" with a laugh.
Sgt. Kelly Brantley with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission told ABC11 their dispatch call logs from over the weekend show no one called to report the alligator at Falls Lake.
If the gator continues to surface in a specific area on the lake, Brantley says he will send out a biologist to tranquilize the gator and transport it down east.
Falls Lake State Park officials also tell ABC11 they will not post signs warning visitors of the alligator until they can confirm its exact location.
While alligators can be found along the coastal regions of the southeastern part of our state, it's unusual to find them this far north and inland. At least one local staff member at the Falls Lake State Park speculated that perhaps this was someone's pet that they let go in the lake.
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