Some of my best childhood memories revolve around fishing trips to the Trinity River, and I particularly remember dealing with alligator gar.
My dad, uncle, and grandfather would start a fishing trip by pulling out a net, stretching it across the river, and dragging it upstream to seine for bait fish. The alligator gar would spot the net coming and jump over it. So my cousins and I would walk behind the net in waist-deep water and carry sticks to hit the gar in mid-air for sport.
Alligator gar are some bad-ass looking critters in addition to being the biggest freshwater fish in Texas. They look prehistoric with an armor-plated body and long snouts filled with teeth. They’re downright scary looking, even when they’re only a few pounds. But they can grow to more than 200 pounds.
Cleveland, Texas resident Joseph Williams was using a rod and reel recently when he caught an alligator gar in Athens that was 7 feet 9 inches long and 200 pounds. That’s the new rod-and-reel record for fishing in the Trinity. Williams said the fish really weighed 230 but that he weighed it on truck scales that measured in 50-pound increments.
Texas remains one of the last places where alligator gar thrive, thanks in part to regulations on harvesting the fish, and to studies on gar population levels.