Wild Florida: Amateur hunters make massive python catch

The hunters believe their catch could be a record breaker, making them the trio that accomplished the largest catch in Florida as amateurs.

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – Three amateur hunters are hoping to boast bragging rights, after they captured a nearly 18-foot-long python in Collier County.

Stephen Gauta, Jake Waleri, and Joshua Laquis were out hunting when they said the snake crossed the road right in front of them.

The hunters said they fought the 17-foot, 10-inch-long, 104 pound python for five to 10 minutes when they caught it.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission still needs to weigh and measure the python on Friday, but they believe their catch could be a record breaker, making them the trio that accomplished the largest catch in Florida as amateurs.

This comes on the same week as the beginning of the Florida Python Challenge, encouraging the public to take an online class and the go deep into the Everglades to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.

The title for the biggest catch belongs to a python captured by experts in June, that was 18-feet-long and weighed 215 pounds.

More than 600 people registered for the Florida Python Challenge in 2021. They caught 223 Burmese pythons.


About the Authors:

Eden Checkol co-anchors Local 10's 10 p.m. weeknight newscast on WSFL and also reports on WPLG newscasts. She’s a Minnesota native who is thrilled to leave the snow behind and call South Florida home.