Discover The Largest Alligator Gar Ever Caught in Louisiana

Close up of Alligator Gar swimming
© tristan tan/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: May 10, 2023

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Are you looking to beat the record for the largest alligator gar ever caught in Louisiana? These large fish can reach impressive weights and lengths! Alligator gars have long elongated torpedo-shaped bodies and are true “living fossils”. They are also the largest “gar” species, but don’t let their size fool you. Alligator gars aren’t aggressive; there have been no confirmed attacks on humans. Instead, they are gentle giants, but you shouldn’t eat their eggs. Alligator gar eggs are toxic and can cause sickness in humans.

Although the largest alligator ever caught in the world was not found in Louisiana, there is still a pretty impressive record in the state. Follow along to discover the largest alligator gar ever caught in Louisiana.

The Largest Alligator Gar Ever Caught in Louisiana

The largest alligator gar ever caught in Louisiana was 179 pounds. It was caught by Jimmy L. Thompson in the Red River in May 1997. It gained the title and record for the largest alligator gar caught in Louisiana.

Interestingly, the second-largest alligator gar in the state was also captured in the same month and year. James Strickland caught a 134-pound alligator gar also in the Red River. Although a larger alligator gar was found in Louisiana, it didn’t qualify for the record.

In 2002 Brandon Saucier was bow fishing with his friends when he shot a massive alligator gar in two feet of water. It was over 8 feet long and weighed 215 pounds. However, he didn’t weigh it on a certified scale or catch it with a rod and reel. When he realized this, Saucier took the fish home to prepare, cook, and store. Experts believe this large fish could have been at least 50 years old.

The alligator gar is a "living fossil" found largely in the southern United States.

The largest alligator gar ever caught in Louisiana weighed 179 pounds.

©TKBackyard/Shutterstock.com

About Alligator Gar

Alligator gars are ray-finned euryhaline fish in the gar family. They are one of the oldest fish in the world, with origins dating back to the Early Cretaceous over 100 million years ago. These living fossils have retained many of their early ancestors’ characteristics.

The alligator gar is native to most of the United States and parts of Mexico. However, they’ve been introduced to other parts of the world and are now an invasive species in China. They are very common though in the southern United States. Alligator gars may also have lived as far north as Illinois or Nebraska, however, sightings have been little to none.

Size and Appearance

Alligator gar are unique fish and easy to spot and distinguish. They have long torpedo-shaped bodies and flexible elasmoid scales. Although the word “alligator” is in their name, alligator gars aren’t related to alligators. Instead, they have a similar head shape with rows of sharp teeth. Alligator gars have brown or olive skin that fades to a lighter color. However, some alligator gars have a high amount of melanin and are all black.

These large fish are well-known for their impressive size. For instance, the average mature alligator gar grows up to 6 feet long. However, some alligator gars have been recorded as long as 10 feet. These fish easily weigh over 100 pounds. Although some reports state alligator gar have been found weighing over 400 pounds, none could be verified.

Diet

Alligator gars are ambush predators. They are passive predators, mainly feeding on fish. Alligator gars hunt at night. They are opportunistic feeders and consume fish, turtles, and small mammals near the surface of the water. Some diet studies found that alligator gars living in brackish water consume a lot of blue crabs and hardhead catfish.

Predators

Mature adult alligator gars have few natural predators. They are mainly hunted by humans and occasionally by large American alligators. However young and small alligator gars fall prey to larger fish. Alligator gar aren’t aggressive, but they are large enough to scare away other predatory fish.

Fishing and Uses

Anglers from all over the continent travel to southern states in the U.S. in hopes of catching a large alligator gar. These large fish have been used by humans for hundreds of years. For example, Native Americans in the South, and Caribbean peoples created arrowheads from ganoid scales. They also dried the skin of alligator gar to make leather and saved alligator oil to repel buffalo gnats. For a while, alligator gars were considered trash fish, but are now popular sport fish.

alligator gar

The largest alligator gar ever caught in Louisiana was caught in 1997.

©Charlotte Bleijenberg/Shutterstock.com

The Largest Alligator Gar Ever Caught in the World

Although the largest alligator gar caught in Louisiana is impressive, the largest alligator gar caught in the world is almost double its size. On February 14, 2001, Kenny Williams was almost done for the day. He had caught a lot of buffalo fish in nets in Lake Chotard, Mississippi. Something weighed down the net and became tangled. When he took a closer look, he noticed it was a massive alligator gar. It took Williams about half an hour to place the large fish into his boat. When measured, the alligator gar was 8 feet and 5 inches long and weighed an impressive 327 pounds. Scientists believe this alligator gar could have been up to 95 years old.

Where is the Red River Located on a Map?

In Louisiana, the Red River acts as a dividing line between Caddo and Bossier parishes, flowing in a southeastern direction through Red River, Natchitoches, Rapides, and Avoyelles parishes, eventually merging with a partial discharge from the Mississippi River and flowing into the Atchafalaya River.

Here is the Red River on a map:


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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