Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

May 15, 2015

Gar Fishing on Trinity River

TPWD Temporarily Closes Alligator Gar Fishing in Trinity River Downstream of Dallas

AUSTIN — Due to flooding conditions on the Trinity River, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is temporarily prohibiting fishing for alligator gar in portions of the river between the Highway 31 Bridge near Trinidad and the Highway 7 Bridge near Crockett.

TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith issued the emergency order on Tuesday, May 12, to temporarily prohibit taking or attempting to take alligator gar in order to protect spawning alligator gar, which is a species of conservation concern in the Trinity River. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in effect for not more than 30 days and can be rescinded before that date if conditions warrant. While the order is in effect, anglers cannot fish for or harvest alligator gar in the Trinity River and flooded backwaters in the reach of the river specified above.

The temporary prohibition does not affect alligator gar fishing in parts of the state other than those areas of the Trinity River detailed above.

Department staff has been monitoring water conditions this spring for indications of conditions that normally trigger spawning by alligator gar. Water conditions targeted by staff, such as water temperature above 68degrees F and presence of a flood level at the moderate stage as reported by U.S. Geological Survey gauges http://www.srh.noaa.gov/wgrfc/ are currently occurring.

Typically, alligator gar do not spawn every year. Research data indicate alligator gar in Texas have the greatest chance at spawning successfully if the creation of preferred spawning habitat (the seasonal inundation of low-lying areas of vegetation) occurs in late spring through early summer. Because the conditions for spawning do not exist on a regular basis, and because spawning occurs in shallow waters where numerous gar can be concentrated in one area, alligator gar are extremely vulnerable to harvest during spawning.

The TPW Commission in 2009 adopted a daily bag limit of one alligator gar per person, which was intended to protect adult fish while allowing limited harvest, thus ensuring population stability. This action was taken to protect alligator gar populations in Texas, as Texas is one of the last remaining strongholds for the species in the U. S. Since 2009, the department has been conducting research to determine the estimated harvest of alligator gar, quantify reproduction, understand habitat usage and determine geographic differences in populations.

gar

October 4, 2011

Gar Research

Gar research intended to help trophy fishery

alligator_gar_cromped
OLD TIMER: Some alligator gar live to be 50 years old, according to biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Photo by TPWD.

Despite being one of the largest freshwater fish species in North America, scientists knew little about alligator gar until relatively recently.

In the last two decades, knowledge about the species has grown tremendously in response to evidence that alligator gar populations are declining in many areas.

The primary reasons these gar have declined throughout much of their historic 14-state range are loss of floodplain habitats necessary for reproduction (from reservoir construction and river channelization) and overfishing, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

As a result, the American Fisheries Society has considered alligator gar “at risk of imperilment” since 2008.

TPWD in September 2009 adopted a one-fish per day bag limit for alligator gar. This made Texas the eighth state to adopt harvest regulations for this fish.

TPWD biologists say alligator gar longer than 6 feet are vulnerable because of their more desirable “trophy” size. Although alligator gar may reach 3 feet in length in three years, their growth rate slows with age, and the fish may take 20 to 30 years to reach a length of 6 feet.

Biologists have discovered that alligator gar can live more than 50 years and take about a decade to become sexually mature. It could take several decades to restore their numbers if depleted.

A number of research initiatives have been completed or are underway to better understand gar populations throughout Texas.

TPWD biologists have conducted studies to evaluate growth rates and life span, understand their reproduction, and track the seasonal movement of alligator gar. Biologists have also conducted studies to evaluate angler harvest rates of alligator gar and estimate population sizes.

Since 2009, 130 harvested alligator gar have been collected and aged from anglers at Trinity River bowfishing tournaments. Using information obtained from tournaments, biologists were also able to estimate harvest rates of alligator gar at the events.

While the Trinity River is a well-known stronghold for alligator gar in the state, many Texas reservoirs, such as Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Amistad, also support healthy populations.

TPWD began a tagging study of alligator gar in this year at Choke Canyon Reservoir. Tags returned by anglers will provide biologists with information on harvest, abundance, size structure, and survival.

In addition, recaptures of tagged fish during the spawning season will provide clues to number of spawning locations, how often fish spawn in the reservoir, and if fish return to the same locations to spawn each year.

Through the various research projects throughout the state, biologists plan to refine management objectives specific to certain rivers and reservoirs around the state to better maintain or enhance the alligator gar fisheries.

A population study of alligator gar in the Brazos River below Waco is currently in the planning stages.

TPWD officials say they plan to study and manage Texas alligator gar populations to sustain excellent fishing opportunities for this species for present and future generations to enjoy.

Information for this article came a news release issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

July 17, 2011

Three Indicted in Alligator Gar Smuggling Operation

BEAUMONT, Texas – Three men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for smuggling alligator gar in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Loren Willis, 62, of Eminence, IN, Gerard Longo, 46, of Greenacres, Florida, and Michael Rambarran, 55, of Miami, were charged today with Lacey Act violations, specifically conspiracy to submit a false label for fish transported in interstate commerce, conspiracy to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation; and conspiracy to transport and sell fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation.

According to the indictment, on July 26, 2010, the defendants are alleged to have conspired to develop a scheme to transport fish, specifically alligator gar, harvested from the Trinity River in East Texas for the purpose of selling them in Japan.

If convicted, they each face up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

This case is being investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department of Special Operations Unit and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reynaldo P. Mori.

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Alligator gar smuggling can be lucrative. A dealer in Tokyo proposed to pay these guys $15,000 for four alligator gar…and an eight-footer would have brought $30,000!

Japanese want alligator gar to put in their huge aquariums.  The aquariums are so large that you could swim in them.   Not sure if you would swim with the alligator gar.

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Alligator gar are prehistoric-looking fish unlike anything you’ve seen before. Even their scales
are unique. They are bony plates that overlap and secrete a slimy coating. Some people even
dry and bleach the scales for use in jewelry.

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