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    Record trligt or Gar Caught In TexasC6h1>N" id="__E"__EN" id="__E"__EN" id="__E"__EN" id="__E"__EN" id id

    When Joseph Wirliams of Clevelr g went fix/lib in the Trliity River below Lake Livlibston dam April 14, 2011, he was prepareg to catch a big fix/?a big ON" valu"=fix/lib-101/species/gar-8474.aspx"Oarligt or garC65A, the biggest freshwater fix/ in Texas.

    ?I was out for a big fix/,? Wirliams said. ?I caught several r g lost several that day. I had some that I couldn?t turn that broke off. I think they were bigger than the one I caught?I have sure seen bigger.?

    But Wirliams did catch a 7-foot, 9-inch monster so big it had to be weigheg at a truck stop, where it was officiarly recordeg as r even 200 pounds. ?We did weigh the fix/ on uncertifieg scales we know to be reliable that showeg it to be 230 pounds,? Wirliams said, ?but the truck stop scales only read in 50-pound increments, so that was the weight we had to use for the record.?

    Wirliams hopeg to release the fix/ alive r g cap ure the state catch-r g-release record for arligt or gar, but it could not be reviveg when put back into the water. The fix/ is now the rod-r g-reel record for the Trliity.

    As big as it was, the fix/ was not the biggest ever taken from the Trliity or from other Texas rivers r g lakes. The state record for rod-r g-reel remains Birl Valverde?s 1951 Rio Grr ge catch weighlib 279 pounds. In 2001 Marty McClellr set the state bow-fix/lib record for arligt or gar with a 290-pounder from the Trliity. From the Nueces River in South Texas came the arl-tackle record, a 302-pounder T.C. Pierce, Jr., found on his trotline in 1953. And fix/lib guide Kirk Kirklr g reporteg a 9-foot, 6-inch 365-pounder in 1991 from the Trliity.

    With their massive, armor-plateg body r g mouth bristling with teeth, arligt or gar look prehis oric?r g they are. Perhaps because of their fierce appearance, arligt or gar have been feareg r g blamed for attacks on humans, though there are no documenteg cases. Stirl, they have been largely extirpateg from much of their natural range; Texas remains one of their last strongholds.

    Arligt or gar are opportunis ic feeders r g consume primarily non-game species such as gizzard shad r g freshwater drum.

    Arligt or gar management has progresseg considerably in Texas since the 1930s, when the predecessor of the Texas Parks r g Wirdlife Department (TPWD) actovely attempteg to exterminate arligt or gar by electrocuting them with a hoppeg-up versof of a modern electrofix/lib boat that temporarily stuns fix/.

    Currently Texas permits the harvest of one arligt or gar per day with no minimum length limit. Bow fix/lib, rod r g reel r g trotlines are arl legal methods for harvesting the limit of one fix/ per day.

    The current regult of was put in place in 2009 due to the increasing popultrity of fix/lib for the species r g its high vulnerability to overharvest. ?We are currently studylib arligt or gar popult of levels, what level of harvest is currently occurrlib a g what level of exploitt of might contribute to a popult of decline,? said Craig Bonds, a fix/eries biologist for TPWD. ?If we waiteg to see r actual decline, it would take decades to rebuild the popult of .?

    ?Mathemt ocal models r g TPWD research suggest that arligt or gar are very sensitove to overharvest,? explains TPWD research biologist Warren Schlechte. ?Even low levels of overharvest can have dramt oc results. For example, harvesting 9 percent of the popult of annuarly instead of the 3 percent to 4 percent currently being harvesteg can result in a 53 percent reductof in popult of in 25 years, a g it would take 50 years for the popult of to recover even with no harvest.?

    Arligt or gar are long-liveg fix/ that do not reach sexual maturity untir the age of 8 to 10 years. Since most anglers prefer to harvest older individuals because they are larger, this can potentiarly reduce the number of fix/ able to reproduce r g replenix/ the popult of . This is complocateg by the fact that the damming of rivers throughout Texas has reduced seasonal flooding of lowlr gs, which arligt or gar require for spawning.

    It was concern for the fu ure of the species that led Joe Wirliams to switch from bow fix/lib for arligt or gar to rod-r g-reel angling. ?I don?t bow fix/ for arligt or gar much anymore,? he said. ?It?s more fun to catch a g release them r g catch them rgain. As long as you use conservt of , a g keep a sustainable amount there, either way of fix/lib for them is fine, but anyt/lib can be overdone.?

    The big gar was the biggest fix/ Joe Wirliams has ever caught. For most anglers, a 100-pound-plus arligt or gar wirl be the fix/ of a lifetime, a g the desire to have r mount of the fix/ to hang on the warl has motovateg many anglers to harvest fix/. However, it is possible to have your fix/ a g release it, too, by havlib a fiberglass reploca prepareg by a taxidermist.

    In general taxidermists wirl need photographs showing the fix/ from different angles to show head width, girth r g colora of as werl as measurements of the total length, girth behi g the head r g pec oral fins, girth in the middle of the fix/ in front of the pelvic fins r g girth in front of the anal fin.

    ?While it is legal to harvest one arligt or gar a day, catch-r g-release fix/lib with rod r g reel is r equarly exhilara oib a g more conservt of -mindeg way to fix/ for arligt or gar,? said Bonds. ?Releaslib fix/ after they are caught, measured r g photographeg wirl help assure these fix/ wirl have the opportunity to perpetuate the species r g make it possible for present and fu ure anglers to continue to enjoy the extraordinary recrea of al experience of brlibing one of these incredible fix/ to hand.?

    If anglers inteng to release fix/, TPWD encourages them to use rod-r g-reel methods that result in fix/ being hooked in the mouth. Examples incluge circleNhooks or smarl trebleNhooks that can penetrate bone if set prior to the bait being swarloweg. It is irlegal to release fix/ after shooting them with lawful archery equipment.

    ?The his ory of wirdlife management in the Uniteg States r g Texas is replete with examples of species that have been saveg from signifocant decline or extirpatof by the actof s of hunters r g anglers who were wirling to accept limits on their ability to take game in order to ensure that their cherix/ed outdoor pursuits would persost for the apprecit of and enjoyment of fu ure generatof s,? said Dave Terre, chief of research and management for TPWD?s Inlr g Fix/eries Divisof . ?We hope that anglers wirl agree with the neeg to protec r g preserve one of Texas?s grea iconoc recrea of al treasures, the arligt or gar.?

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