These fishermen first thought they were hooked into a catfish, not a 198-pound alligator gar.
Mark VornKahl and John Williams of Cameron, Texas, were chasing catfish on the Brazos River when they hooked up with the fish of a lifetime.
Using live perch as bait, they first thought they had a large catfish on the line. Once they realized it was too heavy to be a catfish, they assumed they were hung up on a log in the river. Then the line started pulling.
When the fish finally breached the surface, they realized this was no catfish. It was no log. It was a monster, prehistoric fish.
"I told my buddy, 'Man, this thing is bigger than our boat,'" VornKahl said in an interview with The Eagle.
Because the alligator gar was so large, they took a patient approach to reeling it in, which ultimately paid off.
At 7-foot-7 inches and about 198 pounds, the fish provided the lifelong fishing partners with plenty to put in the freezer.
"A couple of years ago I tried gar, and it was actually delicious," VornKahl said. "But, you've got to be able to cook it right."
They donated the head to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which weighed a whopping 25 pounds.
Michael Baird, the wildlife biologist who went and retrieved the head from the fishermen, said most of the alligator gar in the area grow between 4 and 6 feet, although they do have the ability to grow much larger.
"I wouldn't say that a 7-foot-long gar is rare," he said. "We do run across those in our nets. But a fish that is nearly 8 feet—I do suppose that is pretty rare."
TPWD will study the fish head to learn its age and the health of wildlife in the Brazos River.
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