TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A group of East Texans made a gargantuan catch over the weekend.
Zach Royce, Laramy Barber, Hunter Graham and Josh Gibbs racked up a 7’11”, 258-pound alligator gar on Sunday morning during a bowfishing tournament at the Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas/Louisiana border.
The catch set a new record for the largest alligator gar caught at the lake. The previous record was set on April 6, 2014, by Steve Procell, when he caught an alligator gar weighing 248 pounds and measuring 90.25″.
The Texas state record for the largest alligator gar caught was set back in 1953. The gar was caught on a trotline. The gar weighed 302 pounds.
Gars are easily distinguished from other freshwater species by their long, slender, cylindrical bodies, long snouts and diamond-shaped interlocking (ganoid) scales. The tail fin is rounded. Dorsal and anal fins are placed well back on the body and nearly opposite each other. Alligator gar is the largest of the gar species. It can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh more than 300 pounds. Adults have two rows of large teeth on either side of the upper jaw. Coloration is generally brown or olive above and lighter underneath. The species name spatula is Latin for “spoon,” referring to the creature’s broad snout.
Alligator gar are present in the Gulf coastal plain from the Econfina River in Florida west and south to Veracruz, Mexico. The historic range extends north in the Mississippi River basin to the lower reaches of the Missouri and Ohio rivers. In Texas, alligator gar may be found in large rivers and reservoirs, as well as in coastal bays. Recent surveys indicate the species is declining or has disappeared in many areas of the southeastern United States. Texas populations are still strong.