When Jack Pytel of Needville went fishing with his friends at a ranch at a runoff from the Brazos River, little did he know that he would bring home more than just catfish.
Pytel, 17, and his friends caught in Fort Bend County a 7-foot, 7-inch alligator gar, weighing 190 pounds with a rod and reel. Using chicken liver as his bait, he knew from the start that he was catching something bigger.
“I called out my buddies to help out by catching the gar,” he said. “I didn’t realize what it was until after a half-hour later it jumped out of the water.”
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, alligator gar are usually docile and not a threat to humans, although documentaries and TV shows have dramatized their behavior. They are also slow or hesitant to swallow bait.
For Pytel, he usually catches-and-releases fish. But this was a special occasion.
“My friend’s girlfriend took the gar with us and we cooked it,” Pytel said, “their meat is pretty tasty.”
Alligator gar can be found in lakes and rivers throughout Texas, including the middle and lower Brazos River, and parts of Galveston Bay. They can tolerate saltwater, but thrive in fresh waters.