The Alligator Gar - A Living Dinosaur

The Alligator Gar

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The Alligator Gar

I grew up going to a local church every single Sunday, and my family was very connected to the whole of the church's congregation. They knew everyone there, and still do. When I was growing up the church was actually larger than it is now - and we'd often load up some weekends in our good time vans and packing our tents - and we'd go camping and fishing on a man's property out in the woods a good ways from town. Of course I thought the man who owned the property was a very old man then - but he is only now an old man. I'd heard this man speak of these creatures called alligator gars, and again in the not too distant past, within a year or two - I heard him once again talking about them.

Old Joe was out at my place fishing, and he caught one of them alligator gars, and when I drove up, do you believe he was trying to clean that darn thing? I told him, "Joe, you can't eat no alligator gar!"

I hope the very good man who I'm paraphrasing - were he to know about this bit of internet article - didn't realize I was talking about him, but the facts are that alligator gar meat is not only edible, it is delicatessen cuisine that costs as much as lobster - you only DO need to know how to clean it, and which parts of it are the prize bits of meat.

The Alligator Gar - Atractosteus spatula

Six Foot Nine Inches and One Hundred Sixty Four Pound Alligator Gar

Right after Hurricane Katrina had ravaged Louisiana and the organization known as FEMA made it clear that they were a fascist group bent on denying American Citizens their rights under the Constitution of the United States Of America - I was listening to National Public Radio one day and there was the warden for the Louisiana State Penitentiary talking to whichever talk radio host it was that day, and he was telling us all about this giant gar they'd found in a ditch. The creature had gotten caught up in a place where he couldn't get out of because the waters had subsided too quickly. It was the second largest alligator gar in state records, and I have a picture of it right here.

Technically, this creature IS a fish - it only seems to be half reptile - but quite a large and nasty critter, wouldn't you say?

The facts are that alligator gars are not aggressive towards humans, but would you like to handle something that size with an alligator's mouth full of teeth? I thought not, and neither would I!

A Little Alligator Gar - Just Ten Feet Long....

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Atractosteus spatula - The Alligator Gar

Besides being the largest of the gars, the alligator gar is also the largest freshwater fish in the United States of America - some specimens have reached as long as ten feet in length, and these fish have weighed in at two hundred pounds, and that weight is merely an average. On Valentine's day 2011 a man named Kenny Williams caught an alligator gar that weighed three hundred and twenty seven pounds, and was thought to be between fifty and seventy years old - still that is not the record, the heaviest alligator gar ever caught weighed in a three hundred and sixty five pounds, and the thing is reported to have had very large teeth.

Fishing For Alligator Gar

While it is perfectly obvious what the fascination is with these very large freshwater fish from a pre historic age, I have a major problem with persons fishing specifically for alligator gar, and that problem has to do with the fact that seldom are fishermen doing anything but killing the things, and for no reason. The back strap of meat on an alligator gar is a delicacy so far as meals go, but I assure you that most persons do not know this - and are not interested due to ignorance. What this means is that people are fishing for these large and harmless fish - simply to show off the body of something they'd caught, and to me - this should be criminal, as it is a total insult to nature and the lives of these alligator gar that can and do sometimes outlive humans.

If you look around on the internet you will find all the typical bullshit one would expect - reports of alligator gars attacking humans. What you won't find are any reputable websites that say any such thing. The fact that these fish have teeth is enough for any small mind to cry wolf from the waters, and imagine for themselves a monster that this creature is not. This is the sad fate of most alligator gars caught by fishermen - "here, look at this monster I caught!"

The alligator gar is a predatory fish, but this fish is no river monster, and a great disservice is done to nature each and every time someone catches and kills an alligator gar simply to take a picture of the thing and pretend they are some sort of dragon slayer.

The Alligator Gar

The Alligator Gar - A Living Dinosaur.

As is typical, the Native American cultures that once ruled the lands of what is now the USA had a much better notion of how to interact with nature, and besides that, they appreciated and honored it all much more. To put it bluntly, the Natives respected the alligator gar because without the gar - they'd get a lot less done. What do I mean? Well, the alligator gar is covered with such thick scales of armor that the natives used alligator gar scales to make arrow heads for hunting and for battle.

Literally - regarding an alligator gar as some sort of trophy to prove that your penis isn't undersized is disrespectful not just to nature, ecology, and a testimony to ignorance in the modern world, it is also a slap in the face of Native American tribes who used such creatures for vital functions within their lives and culture.

Personally, I've never caught an alligator gar, and I don't know how to go about it were I seeking to try. I've seen these fish very often, however, as they must come near to the surface in order to breathe, and I've also seen them try to eat my crayfish bait I was using to attempt to catch hybrid bass or catfish, and then jump out of the water to spit my hook out of their mouths - you can well imagine that it isn't a small feat to hook one of these gars, as their mouth isn't much shaped like that of any other fish not a relative, and you can also well understand how and why nobody much is interested in attempting to retrieve their hook or bait from an alligator gar's mouth!

For one hundred million years there have been alligator gar swimming these lakes, creeks, and rivers - and still there are more questions about these creatures than there are known facts. I think it is high time we all start to show the alligator gars a little more respect.

An Alligator Gar.

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Comments 31 comments

JKenny profile image

JKenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

Blimey!! What a monster! That has to be one of the scariest fish I've ever seen! Great work Wesman! Voted up and shared.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

Great look at a fish I am very familiar with, Wesman! I'm very pleased you took a look at the importance of such a creature to the Native Americans. As a survialist, Native American projectile and artifact collector and history buff, I can also tell you the earliest Americans used the hide of the Gar for making shields which are amazingly tough and impenetrable.

The scales were especially important as points here where I live. This is because the nearest source of usable flint, chert, etc. is at least 30 or more miles away.

An interesting creature, no doubt! I've never tried to eat one, though!

Randy SSSSS


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thanks JKenny!!!!!!!!!!!

They are definitely frightening looking, but from what I've read they don't attack people at all....HOWEVER, when folks catch one - they then can be very dangerous, and well...they should be!

But they never just up and try to take off anyone's leg or anything if someone happens to be in the water....at least that is what I've read, but I also can't help but think that the very big ones just might have a go at a human were they given the chance!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Hey Randy!!!!!!!! That is some awesome info right there!!!!

I'd read in one of the links that I put into this thing that the scales - if you hit them with glancing blows from a hammer or something - will throw off sparks!!!!

So the Natives used them to start fires in addition to using them for arrow heads and shields?


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

Not sure about the scales being used to start fires, Wesman. I sorta doubt this being a possibility but can't say for sure. I know a guy who works at as an instructor at a very interesting living type museum who knows everything about such stuff and will ask him next time I see him.

When he gives an exhibition of the Native Americans of this area he wears tanned hides he made and also makes wonderful points, bows, arrows, shields, blowguns, pottery, baskets, and anything else the indian's did. He taught me how to build a fire by rubbing 2 sticks together. Yes, it can actually be done as I show how in one of my hubs.

The shield he had made from gar skin still had the scales on it and the cured hide was unbelievable tough!

SSSSS


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Randy what is the title of that hub where you talk about starting fire with two sticks????

Hey, drop me a link here!!!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

I actually plan to edit and add a video to this older hub, Wesman but here it is:

http://hubpages.com/sports/Expert-Survival-Techniq...


aksem62 profile image

aksem62 4 years ago

Terrifying creature.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

What an amazing and awesome fish! Thank you for the information about this impressive animal, Wesman, and for your very interesting style of writing.


scottcgruber profile image

scottcgruber 4 years ago from USA

Well, at least I know what I'll be having nightmares about tonight...

Great hub, though! Very interesting. I'd never heard of an alligator gar before, so thank you for introducing me to it!


hazelwood4 profile image

hazelwood4 4 years ago from Owensboro, Kentucky

Hi Todd, I have actually hooked on to a couple of these HUGE fish in the Ohio River, and boy what a fight! I would get the fish reeled about halfway in, and the fish would break my line with those sharp teeth. After seeing these fish closeup I am glad I never succeeded.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

aksem62 - I think it is mostly just the looks...specifically the teeth. I do admit that regardless what I've read, I wouldn't want to be in the water with one of any size...from a fresh out of the egg alligator gar on up!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

AliciaC - thank you very much!!!!! I fixed several typos, grammar, and spelling errors after I saw your comment - I'm not sure why or how I've got an interesting style - but I sure do take that as a compliment! THANK YOU!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

scottcgruber - you are very welcome!!!! If you want nightmares - just focus on crocodiles, those truly are monstrous creatures - but I'm very pleased to have introduced you to these fascinating fish that I've been hearing about and sometimes seeing for my entire life!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

hazelwood4 - heck yeah!!!! They sure do put up a fight! I've never had one on my line...but I've watched a friend fight with one a bit ...up until the thing spit the hook out one way or another - probably a good thing it didn't get reeled in on both of our accounts!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

They probably don't eat humans. They wouldn't like the taste.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 4 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Interesting hub. Thanks for introducing me to the alligator gar Wesman, a fish I had never heard of before, and I agree with you that catching things just to show off as a trophy is wrong on so many levels.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

I think we need Dr. Evil, Chris, to fuse some Zombie ZNA with the alligator gars - to fix that problem!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

CMHypno - I sure think so. I dislike everything about that mentality. It all seems very disrespectful and all a bunch of ego posturing.

Sort of like the worst side of Hemingway. I'm told that the larger cities or anywhere in the US where there are Asian grocery stores - not Asian owned, but Asian THEMED groceries - that those will sell gar meat, and that it is very expensive.

I'd like to try it - but I can't support these fishing guides that just take people to catch and kill "a monster."


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

Sweet Hub WTS :) I was just watching River Monsters with my daughters and the man was looking into the alligator gar - such an impressive ...well...BEAST. When I heard the host of the show mention these things were in America I freaked out. I never heard of these before?! Where have I been??


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

You've not been fishing with me like you should have been!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I actually hooked an alligator gar one time while fishing for sand bass in a river. It fought like crazy, I knew it was not just a little bass. I got it up on a narrow rock shelf that was just under the water, when I saw what it was. Thankfully, it broke my line about that time, as I wasn't going to try to get that hook! He was about 4 feet long. He was fun to catch. I would never kill anything just to show off. Besides, I had 2 witnesses. Great hub!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

I hear they put up a heck of a fight!!!!!!!!!

I'll wind up with one on my line sooner or later - but if I get one to the bank, or otherwise see what it is, I'm cutting the line.

I see them often when fishing around here - as they are always coming up close to the surface, but I've been spared the trouble of realizing I've "got one" so far!

Thanks sgbrown!


DoItForHer 4 years ago

Amazing! I had no idea. How cool and scary is that?


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it!

One of these days I'd take you to my fishing hole were you around here - you'd see one for sure.


mikeydcarroll67 4 years ago

I have this sudden urge to snagging and "fishing" for Alligator Gar..................


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

mikeydcarroll67 - but ya gotta eat it!!!!!!!!!!

Hey, I looked at my search terms....somebody literally landed on this page from searching the question: "can an alligator get a gar pregnant?"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


mikeydcarroll67 4 years ago

That is amazing! You gotta love that! I've had a few of those search terms as well.....and makes you wonder about the people searching for those kinds of things.....


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

LOL! Sounds like biology is a.....niche with needs on the web!!!!!!!!!!!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

No way that last picture is real! Whoa! That is a huge alligator gar. These things are truly creepy looking in my opinion. Is it a fish? Is it a gator? Who can tell. ;)


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

LOL! The picture is TOTALLY real...but I'll bet the camera angle and position make the fish look a bit larger ...er....skews the perspective and proportion a bit!

But hey, at nearly 400 pounds - the thing could easily eat someone! They just aren't really aggressive towards humans, but I fear too many of them die due to idiotic trophy hunters.

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