After broken fishing lines, blood, sweat, and tears, one man claims he caught the largest alligator gar ever recorded in Texas. Let’s take a look at his record-setting fish and see if it is, in fact, a winner. Plus, let’s learn a bit about the alligator gar, one of the strangest fish in North America.
The Fish Pending As the Largest Alligator Gar Ever Caught in Texas
In the heart of Texas, a fishy tale (tail?) is getting fishermen excited. One angler claims to have reeled in what could be the biggest alligator gar ever caught in the state.
Texas has a history of big fish stories, with one record standing for over 70 years until recently. Bill Valverde originally set the record when he caught a 279-pound alligator gar from the Rio Grande River back in 1951. No other alligator gar in Texas has come close to that record, but that may have just changed.
Until recently, the second-largest gar caught in the state was a hybrid gar caught by Shelton Shoemake in 2018, weighing 70.22 pounds and measuring 70 inches long. But in 2023, a whopping 207-pound alligator gar was pulled from Lake Corpus Christi, breaking records for lake catches.
A 302-pound alligator gar was rumored to have been caught in a Houston bayou in 1953, but it was never officially verified and didn’t make the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s record list. That just goes to show how important it is to document these catches.
Will This Break the Record?
Now, back to the present. The recent catch making waves tipped the scales at 283 pounds and stretched 100 inches in length with a 48-inch girth. If the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) gives it the thumbs up, it’ll be the new Texas champ by quite a significant margin.
The IGFA is the go-to authority when it comes to fishing records, making sure everything checks out. Until they give their nod of approval, we’ll have to hold our breath to see if this alligator gar really takes the crown. Seeing as Capt. Kirk Kirkland posted a photo of the fish, its measurements, and its weight, it looks like we will likely have a new record on our hands!
How Big Do Alligator Gar Get?
Alligator gar are some of the most intriguing fish you can find in Texas waters (and, truthfully, the world). But just how big can these giants grow?
Adult alligator gar can commonly weigh between 100 and 300 pounds and measure anywhere 6 to 8 feet long. However, some exceptional individuals break the mold. As we’ve seen with historical records, some alligator gar has been rumored to exceed 300 pounds. That being said, verifying a catch’s legitimacy is an important step in the process. The world record is currently 301 lbs and was caught in Mississippi.
The size of alligator gar can vary depending on their age and the habitat they live in. In slower-moving waters like lakes and reservoirs, they tend to grow larger than ones that live in rivers. Similar to some snakes and gators, it’s worth noting that alligator gar can continue growing throughout their lives. Gar often has lives extending past 50 years! When you combine their natural size and propensity to grow through their whole lives, it’s no wonder they get so big.
Despite their size and name, alligator gar are not aggressive toward humans. They are primarily interested in non-game fish that are smaller than they are (thank goodness).
The Origin of Alligator Gar
Alligator gar are descendants of an ancient group of evolutionarily related fish that goes back something like a hundred million years. Essentially, they are living fossils and look the same as they did millions of years ago.
Native to North America, alligator gar have carved out a pretty significant presence in various regions. You can find them throughout the Mississippi River Basin, the Gulf of Mexico, and various waterways in the southern U.S. They prefer slow-moving waters and are found in places like swamps, bayous, and backwaters. Their ideal habitat makes the southern U.S. the ideal place for them to thrive.
The name “alligator gar” isn’t a reference to their species but to how their snouts look. They have long, slender snouts with visible teeth, just like an alligator. These incredible fish are somewhat uncommon, however, and they are facing some population threats.
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