The largest alligator ever caught

The term “river monster” seems to have been coined for the gar alligator. This prehistoric-looking creature named for its resemblance to the American alligator could have been dreamed up by a master of Hollywood special effects: the long snout filled with double rows of needle-like teeth, the protective covering of intertwined scales valued by the American native to armor and arrowheads, and sleek torpedo-shaped bodies all seem built for combat. In reality, alligators are shy and wise creatures that can live for decades. Second only to freshwater whitefish when it comes to large weight, these slow-growing fish may take half a century to reach a trophy length of 7 feet, and specimens reaching 8 feet are estimated to be 80 to 90 years old.

However, unlike the lizard, which is highly protected in many parts of their North American range, most of the gar sub-species thrive in most of the south and lower midwest. Historically considered a “compost fish” by many, the alligator gar is becoming an increasingly targeted species among recreational fishermen. In Texas, which for decades has had some of the healthiest overall populations and most impressive individual specimens, wildlife officials set a daily limit for alligator races in 2009 and now manage the fish as a regulated species. who does not play games. It seems to be working: Alligator races weighing 200 pounds for decades are by no means rare, and 300 kilograms – once found mostly in fishing gear and old dusty record books – are appearing more and more on social media sources. fishermen and guides. who follow sharp-toothed giants for their fight and – conventional wisdom be cursed – for their taste. Here are 10 of the biggest alligator races ever caught.

1. The largest. Gar. sometimes.

photo of alligator gar
The pa 300 car was caught in the net of a commercial fisherman. Field editors and webcast

The largest documented alligator we could verify this 327 pounds, which had a length of 8 feet, 5 inches long with a belt of 47 inches. Commercial fisherman Kenny Williams discovered the tangled fish in a net he had pulled out for buffalo in Mississippi Lake Chotard on Valentine’s Day 2011. With his boat already loaded with the nearly weekly tough fish quota, Williams was tried for half an hour to undo the gar and get it on his boat, he told Field & Stream in 2011. He then returned the engine slowly to shore with only 4 inches of free plank. The fish, already weak when found, died quickly and Williams donated it to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Sciences in Jackson. His age is estimated between 70 and 95 years.

2. World archery record

photo of alligator gar
This massive fence easily reduced Brent Crawford’s 300-pound scale, but was never officially weighed. Brent Crawford

Brent Crawford was not even fishing when a friend reported him a “car-sized” fish in a canal near his home on Lake Corpus Christi in 2012. Crawford caught his bow and, after watching the massive race for nearly 45 minutes, finally got a kick out of it. According to newspaper reports, he thought he was lost, only to find out why the line connected to his arrow was not moving: a cord spiral had fallen from the coil and was lying at his feet. Thinking he had forgotten to secure the rope, he quickly wrapped it around his hand – just as the fish squeezed it by pulling Crawford with his head first into the water.

“At that moment I was just trying to keep my feet on the ground,” Crawford told Corpus Christi Caller. “There was no doubt who was in control and it was not me. “It was a withdrawal from the war now.” After nearly an hour, he won the fight. Wrapping the race in shallow water, he was able to grab it by the gills and pull it ashore. He then sat on it until a neighbor picked up a pistol, which Crawford used to send the fish. The big race reportedly reached a weight of 300 pounds, but Crawford did not consider contacting Texas Parks and Wildlife for an official weight, which he later called “a big mistake.” She measures 8 feet, 2 inches, more than half a foot taller than the state record.

3. Rod-and-Reel World-Record Gar

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Bill Valverde grabbed this 9 279 fence in 1951. Courtesy of IGFA

The IGFA all-rounder alligator was caught in the Rio Grande River by Bill Valverde all the way in 1951. The native Texas and World War II veteran was using a home-made bamboo rod, framed with mullet, to target catfish an early December day. Instead, he caught five races. Four weighed between 75 and 100 pounds. The fifth, which stretched 93 inches tall, later turned into a meat market scale at 279 pounds – and that was after Valverde traveled home with the massive fish tied to his spare tire, and his tail pulled back all the way. Not only does it rank at the top of the IGFA list by Valverde, but it is also the heaviest documented freshwater fish ever caught on a Texas rod, and – after more than 70 years in books – rod of the longest-lived freshwater in the state. record.

4. New Year New Record *

The Texas record book lists an alligator race that is bigger than Bill Valverde’s world record fish, but has a star: This one was caught on a trotle line by TC Pierce Jr. on January 1, 1953, on the Nueces River. Not much is known about Pierce or his mammoth catch, which weighed 302 pounds and stretched 90 inches tall – but it must have been a good way to celebrate New Year’s Day.

5. Behemoth Bayou

Proving that the 300-pound race is not just memories from the good old days, Payton Moore caught (could be a more accurate word) a massive alligator race in May from a bay near Houston, and he took the whole adventure on camera. Moore released the fish, but not before using a rope to restrain it long enough to measure its length (8 feet, 2 inches) and perimeter (48 inches), which it used to measure the weight of the race at 300 pounds. “If you remove anything from this video, it must be very good news that fish of this size are still here and that they are worthy of our protection,” Moore wrote on his YouTube page, where the video was posted. “Alligator gar are extraordinary animals and are very important to the inhabiting ecosystems.” You can read the full story of his capture here.

6. You will need a larger scale

photo of alligator gar
The official 200-pound weight of the Williams race is almost certainly very low. Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Sometimes the size of a fish can work against it. This was the case with a 7-foot, 9-inch alligator lined from Cleveland, Texas, fisherman Joseph Williams in April 2011. According to news reports, Williams initially weighed the fish on a reliable but uncertified scale and recorded 230 pounds. . The only certified scale large enough to withstand the clutter was a truck stop scale that weighed only in increments of 50 pounds. As a result, the official weight recorded in the Texas record book is 200 pounds – almost certainly an understatement of the true size of this impressive goalkeeper, but nonetheless good enough to stand as the rod-and-roll record on the Trinity River, Ylli lonely. Alligator of the state gar meka. Attempts to release the fish unfortunately failed. Later that summer, on July 4, Williams secured another record, catching an 88-inch alligator in the Trinity that set the record for Texas catch and release for the species.

7. Big Mama on Father’s Day

photo of alligator gar
The 247-pound Blasingame was more than 7-1 / 2 feet tall. Hunter Blasingame

It did not take long for the Blasingame Hunter to tie a trophy alligator trophy on a bow fishing trip on Father’s Day with racing guide Scott Meshell in June 2020. The Blasingame hit came just 10 minutes into the trip when the fish 7 feet and 7 inches appeared near the boat. The fish was finally inserted after the blow and Blasingame was able to bring it to the surface and take a second arrow. closely guarded secret. The Blasingame fish weighed 247 pounds and had a circumference of 47 inches.

8. Tournament ball

photo of alligator gar
Meshel and his 210 pounds. Scott Meshel

In May 2021, less than a year after leading Blasingame to his monster, Meshell took first place in the annual South Texas Gar Archery Tour with a 210-pound alligator of his own. His team was one of two that weighed in at a 200-pound race in the tournament. Behemoth 8 feet and 3½ nç is one of the four 8 feet that Meshel has shot in his guiding and fishing career.

9. Dinosaurs vs. Kayak

Kayak fisherman Chris Hernandez landed a 7-foot, 200-pound alligator while fishing near his hometown of San Benito, Texas, in 2019. The barber and 44-year-old athlete needed as little stamina as he could muster to defeat the fish, who nearly turned his kayak with a sliding tail. After the race pulled him up and down the river for 40 minutes, Hernandez managed to pull him ashore by driving with one hand and holding his stick with the other. His cousin helped him draw the fish on paper. “It was a really, really intense fight,” Hernandez told NPR. “My body was very tired, man. As I said, at one point I thought I was going to lose my stick from this race dinosaur. ”

10. Cold steel stunner

If rod and coil, bow or trotline methods do not sound challenging enough, what about the pistol? Texas iconic Deadly Buck Medley mounted a Cold Steel Master Slock pistol designed by primitive hunter Tim Wells to go “hit fishing” for racing in South Texas. Judging by this 200 200 specimen, taken in May 2020, the technique works.

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