A Maryland angler just broke the state's longnose gar record with a nearly 18-pound fish he pulled from Marshyhope Creek.
David Confair of Secretary, Maryland on the Eastern Shore, was fishing for blue catfish above the historic Brookview Bridge on Marshyhope Creek. A few hours into his outing, Confair thought he had hooked a nice cat, and therefore reacted accordingly.
"Get the net," he yelled to a friend. "This is a big fish!" He was surprised to see the toothy beak of a longnose gar instead of a catfish at the end of his line.
Confair caught the fish Jan. 23, a 17.9-pound longnose gar, and as such became the Maryland state record holder for that fish. He beat the previous record longnose gar weight of 17 pounds by Justin Kelly, which was pulled from the Potomac River in 2011, holding the top spot for nearly eight years.
Longnose gar (which go by the scientific name Lepisosteus osseus) are a prehistoric fish that can grow to six feet in length. Confair claims to have seen some even bigger ones than his 18-pounder in the waters of Maryland. "I know there are bigger ones," he declared. "I've seen them." We'll maintain reliance that he'll be back in the water, fishing for them again soon.
Confair, an experienced angler, kept the gar alive while getting it confirmed and certified scales were checking the fish's official weight at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge. He then released it back into the creek unharmed. "It deserves to live," he said. "I'm hoping to set a bigger record."
Good on him for releasing the living dinosaur. He has photos and measurements, so he should be able to get a fine-looking replica mount made.
Maryland maintains state records in four divisions - Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal and Invasive - and awards plaques to anglers who achieve record catches and complete state record applications. Fish caught from privately-owned, fee-fishing waters are ineligible.