207-pound alligator gar caught in Texas breaks local record and appears to be longer than fisherman
A Texas man has been recognized for catching the heaviest alligator ever recorded in Lake Corpus Christi.
Paul Hefner, a Texas angler, caught a 207-pound alligator gar with a fishing line in mid-April, and his record-breaking catch was finally recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Tuesday, May 23.
The Wildlife Authority publicized Hefner’s catch with photos on Twitter and Facebook showing that the giant fish was longer than its catcher’s body.
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“Move, Rover. This 207-pound alligator gar set a new record for Lake Corpus Christi before being released to swim another day,” Texas Parks and Wildlife wrote in both posts.
According to the Department of Wildlife’s All-Tackle Records for Lake Corpus Christi website, the alligator deer was caught on April 13 and is reportedly 90 inches long.
In early May, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issued a press release detailing “best practices” for capturing and releasing alligator gars in the state.
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials recommend three approaches to ensure alligator gar safety.
1. Use non-stainless steel fishing tackle and do not use hooks larger than 3/0
Texas Parks and Wildlife recommends stainless steel line and leaders because these fishing accessories don’t deteriorate easily. Bronze fishing gear is reported to degrade faster, but in some cases bronze hooks can be beneficial (as outlined in Best Practice #3).
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Using fishhooks larger than 3/0 could cause damage to an alligator’s internal organs or small fish, according to the Wildlife Authority.
2. Catch alligators and similarly sized fish from the shore, not from the boat
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, catching an alligator or other large fish species from shore is less likely to cause fish injuries.
“Using lassos or slings to lift a fish over the hull of a boat can cause internal injuries to a heavy fish like the alligatorgar,” the wildlife agency wrote. “If possible, keep the fish in or near the water. Fully support the weight of the fish when taking photos before releasing. Minimize handling time.”
3. Cut the line or leader on “deep hooked” alligator and similar fish
The Texas Parks and Wildlife states that scientific studies have found that caught fish have a higher survival rate when anglers cut their fishing lines or leaders.
“Hooks that are stuck outside the oral cavity (in the pharynx, esophagus, or stomach) should not be removed — most studies suggest that attempting to remove a deep hook often causes additional damage,” Texas Parks wrote and Wildlife.
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The Wildlife Authority added that using non-stainless steel hooks on alligator deer can help the fish survive because the metal “breaks down relatively quickly and is more easily thrown off a hake”.
Biologists at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have reportedly observed the capture-and-release alligator gar grow to a weight of more than 300 pounds and a length of up to 8 feet.
“Catch-and-release fishing for alligator gar is popular, and data from an ongoing evaluation suggests high survival rates for released fish,” said Dan Daugherty, chief freshwater fishery scientist at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, in a statement.
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“We even recorded some fish being caught and released three or four times over several years,” he continued.
Anglers wishing to submit their catches and releases for record-keeping must read the Texas Parks and Wildlife program rules, be able to locate and use certified scales, have a tape measure, take multiple photographs, and have an Angler Recognition Award fill out application.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the certification process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
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The largest alligator gar caught in Texas was caught with a trotting line in 1953. According to the Wildlife Agency’s current statewide record list, the state record fish reportedly weighed 302 pounds.