A bow fisherman recently caught a rare fish in southwestern Indiana.
The fisherman harvested an alligator gar on the White River on June 1, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Officials say it measured 63 inches and weighed 55 pounds.
DNR says the catch is the first alligator gar verified by state biologists in recent history. Indiana is at the northern edge of the historic range of the species, so they are rarely encountered here, DNR says.
Biologists are trying to determine the fish’s age and whether or not it was tagged and released by another state. A tagged fish would indicate it was stocked, most likely by Illinois or Kentucky.
The fisherman, identified as Jake Jackson, met all Indiana fishing rules and regulations. He says he plans to have the gar fully mounted once he gets it back from DNR.
“In Indiana, we currently have no regulations on take of alligator gar,” said Brian Schoenung, fisheries chief for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “One alligator gar found in Indiana waters does not create a management need. However, our biologists will be sampling heavily in the area this fish was discovered to determine if any other alligator gar are present.”
DNR says alligator gar were once vilified as killers of game fish, but biologists and conservationists now recognize the unique role the species plays as a top level predator. Some states have implemented protective regulations, but a restoration program is not being explored in Indiana at this time.
“Should we find a viable population of alligator gar or as we see more of this species stocked in neighboring states moving into Indiana, we may look to institute management action to regulate take,” Schoenung said. “Such regulations would ensure the protection of alligator gar, while allowing other common species to be harvested.”