You might not know exactly what you’re gonna catch out on a day fishing, but you probably have a general idea. This stream is good for rainbow trout. That lake is good for bass. Salmon usually like this body of water, so on and so forth. Very rarely do you end up bagging a species not even native to the area. Well, one Kansas man did just that and had to do a double-take after reeling in what appears to be a massive Alligator Gar. His wild catch stood out for more reasons than one. Read on to snag all the details.
A State Record and History-Making Moment
Though the lucky Kansas angler remains unnamed, his impressive feat is getting marked down in Kansas history books as we speak. It’s probably not breaking news that the 4.5ft, 39.5lb Alligator Gar doesn’t typically call Kansas its home. What turns heads, however, is the fact that the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks says that, if authenticated, this is the first-ever recorded instance of the species in the state’s entire history.
Check out the catch in all its glory here:
How Certain Are We That This is Actually an Alligator Gar?
“We’re confident the information from the angler is accurate and the fish was, in fact, caught from the Neosho River,” said Fisheries biologist Connor Ossowski from the KDWP. “However, that doesn’t mean the fish originated from the river.”
On rare occasions, KDWP writes, Alligator Gar get distributed from the bottom parts of Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois towards the Gulf of Mexico. Now, this typically happens through official reintroduction efforts. Still, this alleged Alligator Gar lacked a tag, and because it’s so rare, the KDWP wants to do their due diligence in identifying the fish.
“Microchemistry is another technique at our disposal,” says Koch, assistant director of Fisheries research. The director chimes in with his own theory. He says “It’s not unlikely that this fish was once somebody’s pet or purchased from a pet store, and simply released into the river once it became too large. These techniques should allow us to determine which mode of introduction occurred.”
While their identification process gets underway, KDWP also wants to remind people that transporting fish and other species (native or non-native) to public waters is illegal. “Transporting and releasing fish risks spreading other harmful species such as microscopic zebra mussels, fish diseases, or aquatic vegetation that might be present in the water used to transport the fish.”
The History of the “Living Fossil”
The Alligator Gar is a predatory fish. It gets the nickname of a “living fossil” for its traces back as far as 100 million years ago. They get the name for their appearance, but you probably could have guessed that. Alligator gar generally boast broad snouts. They are also the largest of all the gar species. Records in other states show some as big as 300 pounds and 8 feet long.