Bow Fisherman Lands 8-Foot Alligator Gar


Gar-gantuan feat at Lake Corpus Christi » Corpus Christi Caller-Times


"Even together the two men could not lift the fish. Jim offered a forklift from his garage, which was just the tool they needed to hang the catch for photos and to weigh it.


But their scale's 300-pound capacity was inadequate. The fish measured 8 feet 2 inches. And it bottomed out the scale in resounding fashion.


The actual weight, which was more than a few stones greater than 300 pounds, will never be known."

15 comments:

  1. What a shame. Such a huge, ancient creature. I insist this is like cutting down one of those ancient trees, and no one seems to see it as a crime. :S

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  2. One fish I was surprised you never covered in Deadly Kingdom (unless I totally missed something) was the European giant catfish, or wels (Silurus glanis.) Unlike our "man-eating" channel and blue catfish with the friend-of-my-cousin's-ex-girlfriend's-godfather pedigree, the wels not only routinely achieves a size comparable to this gar (and in the past, larger ones may have occurred with greater frequency, prior to modern fishing techniques) has been reliably documented as being found with human remains in its belly (Ricciutti quotes a couple instances) and has on a few occasions been known to bite and harrass swimmers--though this may have been a territorial issue. Given the scavenging behavior of catfish, it is impossible to say if the fish merely chanced upon a drowning victim or a dumped body, but since they are also active hunters, it's at least theoretically possible that a small child could fall prey to one (they're comparable in size, after all, to sand or nurse sharks, far exceeding even the biggest of our catfish in size.)

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  3. Yes, my entire discussion of the man-eating catfish amounted to less than a paragraph, and I didn't specifically mention the wels. In an early draft of the book I wrote of an Indian species with confirmed kills, but apparently I wasn't satisfied with the documentation and ended up cutting that part. Anyway, I agree that catfish have scavenged human remains and bitten people. I doubt they are constitutionally opposed to eating us, but I couldn't find convincing evidence, so they only got the brief mention. (I went through the same process with the alligator gar, but couldn't document anything much.) I really ought to start a wiki for these uncertain cases. . .

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  4. Jeremy Wade investigated both the wels catfish and the gator gar I think. He found cases of them biting people but couldn´t confirm any man-eating cases.

    Here in Mexico the gator gar is the largest freshwater fish but I've never heard anything about them attacking people at all.

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  5. I seem to remember Wade looked into an old newspaper story of an alligator gar and concluded the real culprit was an alligator.

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  6. Talking of catfish, James--have you read Irvin S Cobb's short story Fishhead? It's in the same vein as "Day of the Dragon" and "Mimic."

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  7. Yes--that's another one I occasionally haul out and read when in the mood for a good scare! There's something about large freshwater fish that's somehow a little more unsettling than sharks...and large catfish, due to their slimy skin, big thick-lipped mouths and nocturnal habits rank high on my list of creepy animals. (They also taste great, and I have kept electric catfish as pets--one of them, Edison, was not stingy with his current!)

    I suspect the idea of giant freshwater fish is so disturbing because, at some level, we can accept that the ocean holds huge and dangerous creatures that see us as prey--when you enter the sea, you gamble. But in our arrogant tendency to assume that we're automatically masters of dry land and the fresh water therein, we forget that the fish don't automatically perceive us as their overlords--and in the water, a child certainly is at the mercy of a hungry wels or a territorially enraged pike or gar, and even an adult could theoretically sustain incapacitating injuries that would lead to drowning or shock from blood loss. (I know other freshwater fish--the African tiger fish, for instance--have decidedly unsavory reputations, possibly deserved, but I'm speaking here of fish in developed countries where most people only stop to worry about the possibility of eating bad sushi.)

    Granted, this is not a freshwater species, but in Shark Trouble, Benchley cites an instance of a small grouper about 2 feet long attacking a menstruating female crew member and inflicting a nasty bite. This suggests that a large enough freshwater fish, excited by blood or perceiving a threat to its territory, MIGHT launch an attack, and a large and determined specimen, in its element, could prove to be a tough customer.

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  8. Great comment, James. Here in Wisconsin, people tell a lot of horror stories about muskies, which have been known to nip off a toe or two.

    I'd love to hear more about your electric catfish. If you're interested in writing about them, we could feature them on the blog sometime.

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  9. I'd love to--I don't have pictures, I'm afraid, but let me know how to go about it and I'd be glad to write a piece on electric cats, or for that matter some of the more intimidating aquarium fish I've kept overall.

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  10. Wonderful, James. I'll send you a note on Facebook.

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  11. Facebook is irritating me, so I'll just say it here. I'm looking for true, first-person, informal writing, ideally mentioning hands-on experience with the animals. I usually keep posts under 1500 words, though I can serialize a longer piece. Beyond that, I don't get bossy. Here are some pieces others have written for the blog, just to give you an idea of the range of possibilities:

    http://deadlykingdom.blogspot.com/2012/05/giant-snakes.html
    http://deadlykingdom.blogspot.com/2012/05/better-mousetrap.html
    http://deadlykingdom.blogspot.com/2012/05/attack-of-ticks.html

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  12. Getting it from point A to point B, though--should I just send it as an e-mail attachment? If so, to what address, or how do you prefer to get these things? Or I can see if I can send it via FaceBook. Let me know what the best way would be.

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  13. Email is probably simplest: deadlykingdom [at] yahoo.com. You can attach it as a word-processing document (not PDF, please) or just paste it into the body of your message.--gg

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  14. All set and sent. I hesitate to include the electric catfish in a blog devoted to DEADLY animals, as mine, while occasionally stinging me enough to provoke a string of curses, had no real effect otherwise, probably due to the small size of my catfishes--during their tenure with me, 6-8 inches. Even on the one occasion I actually witnessed a defensive shock used on another fish, he was stunned, but not hurled the length of the tank as some accounts assert. On the other hand, the shocks certainly hurt and ultimately proved fatal to some of the other aquarium inmates, and in the case of Edison, were enough to fend off a very predatory housecat. I expect much has to do with how much current the fish feels like releasing (it takes 15-20 minutes, according to most scientists, to recharge)the relative sizes of the fish and the target, and in the case of the cat, I believe 9/10's was the sheer surprise of even a mild shock. But there's just something inherently menacing about strongly electric fish!

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  15. I've received it, James--thanks very much. I look forward to reading it tonight.

    Not to worry about the (not so) "deadly" part; I've long since shifted the blog to the more general topic "the night side of nature." Which mostly means I just put what I like on it.

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