A Texas fisherman just set a new record for Lake Corpus Christi after catching a 207-pound alligator gar, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Paul Hefner told KSAT he caught the massive 7-foot, 6-inch fish on April 13.
Hefner’s father, who has been fishing in that area since the 80s, stood on the family’s boat and took a photo of Hefner next to his catch to better show the size of the fish.
“We weren’t just targeting gar, we also were targeting flathead and blue catfish. We broke the Nueces River blue catfish record as well — four separate times,” Hefner said.
He told KSAT that he and his dad used cast nets to catch fish to use for live bait like carp, buffalo and tilapia.
“As an old man once told my dad in the 80s, ‘the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish.’ In this case, it was a live 12″ tilapia that caught the record gar,” Hefner said.
He credited rains in the area for an increased river flow, which also helped stir up the fish.
“We’re not sure if the extra flow helped with the gar since it was on the lake, but maybe the fresh water flowing in from the river got it moving. I think that was the only fish we caught that day, actually,” Hefner continued.
He and his dad released the alligator gar back into the river after posing for photos. You can see a video of the release in the Instagram post below:
The world record for an alligator gar goes to a 327-pound fish that was estimated to be 95 years old, according to TPWD. It was caught in Mississippi in 2011.
To avoid overfishing, the TPWD imposed a statewide bag limit of one alligator gar per day in 2009.
Despite their appearance, alligator gar aren’t known to attack humans and their teeth are designed to hold and subdue prey, not tear it apart.
“Alligator gar are an important part of Texas fisheries. Their ancestors have been found in Permian deposits as fossils from 215 million years ago, making them not only one of the most ancient fishes, but also truly native Texans,” TPWD officials said.
Here’s another photo of one of Hefner’s record catfish catches: