Longnose Gar Shot By Virginia Bow Fisherman Shatters State Record

by Matthew Memrick

A bow fisherman broke the Virginia state record for a longnose gar in September by two pounds.

According to WhiskeyRiff, Shawn Kennedy pulled in a 23-pound gar recently. He beat the record of 21 pounds from 2019. His fish came in at 4-feet, 6-inches long, with a 17.5-inch girth.

Kennedy said he didn’t realize how big the Gar was until he got it next to the boat.

“I was like ‘wow!’” Kennedy said. “I have a 55-gallon drum that I put my catch in. I knew right away that it wasn’t going to fit in there. It was bigger than any I’d gotten before.”

Gar Fishing After Midnight

Kennedy and his 18-year-old stepdaughter were fishing along the Pamunkey River, just northeast of Richmond. A combination of good weather and luck turned into a prize-winning fish.

Though he was unfamiliar with the river, he noticed two shadows swimming for his jon boat and took a chance at the second shadow. 

“I was in shorts and sandals,” the Providence Forge resident said. “and I thought because I had an arrow in it and it was flopping around, that all the blood I was seeing was from the fish.”

Strangely, the blood he got in the boat from the catch was his. He didn’t say if he cut himself on the longnose gar’s sharp scales.

The bow fisherman said he only started with the fishing method in 2018. Kennedy was tired of the slow pace and inconsistency of regular fishing and wanted to get faster results. 

A Taste For Longnose Gar

The former Marine said he’s got a preference for gar fishing, saying they taste like venison tenderloin. Yes, he’s knows it’s a rough fish, but that hasn’t stopped him from gar fishing.

“I knew all the tales that they’re a trash fish and eat up more fish than their body weight,” Kennedy said. “But they’re actually pretty cool.” 

But, in this case, he donated the prized fish to the Department of Wildlife. That is, of course, after it was certified and recognized by the State Record Committee.

According to Field and Stream, the agency has never had a longnose gar that large to study. But now, they will check the dead fish for toxins, age, and dietary habits, among other things.

Though he doesn’t get to fish as much as he likes, the metal yard worker said he likes to bow-fish once a month. 

The constant movement of bow fishing, Kennedy said, is about “cruising through creeks and constantly exploring.” 

Checking out the nighttime aquatic life is also a bonus, he said.

Blake Deal held the previous Gar record. He caught a 21-pound, 13-ounce longnose gar at Lake Gaston, which runs on the Virginia-North Carolina border.