01 March 2011

Mississippi man catches rare alligator gar fish, kills it

A couple of weeks ago a commercial netter in Mississippi came upon an unusual sight. While checking his nets in a lake along the Mississippi River, he found he had snagged an alligator gar fish—a rare, prehistoric looking monster that happens to be the largest fresh water fish found in North America. The alligator gar fish had become tangled in his net, which was intended to catch smaller species, such as buffalo fish.

Instead of releasing the fish, the man, Kenny Williams, decided to pull the already exhausted and struggling 8'5" long, 327 pound fish into the boat.

"I told myself you are only going to get one chance at a fish like this in your life," Williams told the Mississippi Sportsman. "You have to catch it. You have to get this fish in this boat." 

Although Williams said he wanted to try to save the fish, he drove the boat to the dock and loaded the fish into his pick-up truck to search for a live tank to put the fish in. The massive monster fish expired in transit.

Williams decided to donate the fish to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, where it will be mounted and put on permanent display. Museum officials said the fish was female and most likely between 50 to 70 years old.

"It's very rare," said Mississippi Museum of Natural Science Director Libby Hartfield. "There are people out fishing all the time and very seldom do you find a fish like this." 

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks confirmed that the fish is the largest of its kind caught in Mississippi.

Though the alligator gar fish is not considered endangered, its number has been in steady decline over the past several decades. Most state and local wildlife agencies where the animal resides advocate a catch and release policy for alligator gar fish.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City where she loves to check out all the vegan eateries. When she's not writing for TDIV, Robin enjoys taking dance lessons, reading, practicing yoga, hanging out with her cat Maggie, baking vegan treats, and volunteering at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/40295335@N00, MS-Sportsman.com