Texas’ murky waterways hide massive beasts, but it takes a rod, fish heads, and a lot of fight to reveal them, video taken by a Houston-area angler shows.
Payton Moore, a fisherman and YouTuber, could hardly see through the waves and wake when the alligator gar took his bait. At first he thinks he snagged a sunken tree, he says in a video recently posted on his YouTube channel, WILD LIFE. But then the thing on the hooks starts to wrestle with him.
“We are on something enormous,” he says.
The muddy river is somewhere “in the greater Houston area,” Moore told McClatchy News, but in the interest of protecting the fish, he declined to reveal anything more about his gar fishing spot.
The strength pulling away from Moore hints at what creature he has on the hook.
“It’s like walking a T-Rex,” he says.
“Every time I think I’m going to muscle him up, he muscles me back down,” Moore says in the video.
A rod won’t be enough, he decides. Moore readies a rope lasso as he pulls the gar closer to shore.
The fight goes on and the beast breaches the surface.
An “absolute dinosaur,” the angler says.
While alligator gar might not be literal dinosaurs, they are an extremely old species that existed at the same time as dinosaurs, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
When the moment comes, Moore moves in close, loops the rope around the gar and pulls it in.
On shore, he measures the fish at 8 feet, 2 inches long — 3 inches shy of the world record for length.
Moore didn’t get the chance to weigh the fish before releasing it back into the river — so there’s no way to know how heavy it was for certain — but he estimates it was about 300 pounds.
“This is by far the most amazing catch of my entire life and it’s not even close,” Moore says. “I could fish for the rest of my life and never see one like that again.”
With measurements done, Moore carries the gar into the water and back to freedom, video shows. It thrashes out of his hands, easily knocking him over in the process.
Catching and releasing is important, Moore wrote on his YouTube page, asking others to do the same, especially for gar.
Despite their intimidating name and impressive set of teeth, alligator gar pose no danger to people, according to Texas wildlife experts, and there is no confirmed instance of a gar attacking a person.
Their size and appearance make them a prized game fish, TPWD says. But the species has been declining and has even vanished from certain parts of the southern U.S., and overfishing is considered a large contributor.
Fortunately however, “Texas populations are still strong,” experts say.
With fossil records dating as far back as 215 million years, gar are “truly native Texans,” TPWD said.