On April 13, Paul Hefner landed the largest alligator gar ever taken from Lake Corpus Christi in Texas. A photo of the massive fish shared on Facebook by Texas Park & Wildlife (TPW) on May 22 shows that it was longer than Hefner by well over a foot. The gar is 99 pounds heavier than the previous alligator gar record for Lake Corpus Christi, which was caught in March of this year.
Hefner caught the big gar while jug fishing with his father. It weighed an astonishing 207 pounds and taped out at about 7.5 feet, Newsweek reports. After recording its measurements and posing for a side-by-side photo, he released the prehistoric giant “to swim another day,” TPW wrote in its Facebook post.
In an interview with KSAT, Hefner said he’s been fishing Lake Corpus Christi with his dad since the 1980s. He caught the record-breaking gar after baiting his jug fishing rig with a 12-inch live tilapia. It was the only fish of the day even though recent rains had produced better-than-average fishing conditions. “As an old man once told my dad in the 80s: the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish,’” he told KSAT. “We weren’t just targeting gar, we were also targeting flathead and blue catfish.”
A video posted to his Instagram account shows Hefner struggling to return the huge gar to the lake. At one point, the fish’s toothy snout gets hooked onto a guy line attached to a nearby pontoon. “Push! It’s only 200 pounds,” says the person filming the release. “He’s gonna bite your face off.”
Alligator gar are the largest of all the gar species, and they’re among the largest freshwater fish in North America—second only to white sturgeon. They typically take at least 50 years to reach the trophy caliber, and certain specimens have been estimated at 80 to 90 years old. The reigning International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record alligator gar was caught in Texas’s Rio Grande River in 1951 by Bill Valverde. That fish tipped scales at 279 pounds.
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