I did not know how big they grew. An adult is 33 – 55 inches long (.8 – 1.3 m). That’s big, especially when they swim by you unexpectedly.
The first comment Ellen made was “wow, they are fast”. Being fast is one reason why these are the best shots I could grab on the fly.
This was in the 4 Holes Swamp region, home of the Francis Beidler Forest, a 16,000-acre (65 km) nature preserve of virgin cypress and tupelo forest owned and operated by the Audubon Society. Some of the trees are over 1000 years in age, and the forest is the home of a number of rare or endangered species.
I had the absolute worse lens for this with me, and it was the only lens I was carrying that day. I went as light as possible that day. My Tamron 18-400 mm is a decent all purpose lens. A dark wet swamp requires a much better (and heavier) lens.
The last image, above, is included to display how they can move through the water quickly. Not a good shot except as a reference.