Whether Brent Crawford has captured the world’s largest alligator gar will never be known — his scale bottomed out emphatically at 300 pounds and he filleted the prehistoric-looking fish after attempting to obtain its weight.
But this much is clear: The gar Crawford landed while bow-fishing recently in Texas’ Lake Corpus Christi is among the largest specimens ever captured — and it was captured in a manner like no other gar captured beforehand.
(The largest-known alligator gar caught while bow-fishing weighed 365 pounds. The largest caught on rod and reel weighed 279 pounds.)
Crawford, who has lived on the lake for 20 years, was alerted to the presence of several giant gar in a wide canal feeding into the lake: an enormous female swimming with about five smaller males.
His reaction, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, was simply: “Oh goodness. That fish right there was worth chasing.”
The newspaper’s outdoors columnist, David Sikes, produced a detailed account of what transpired next. The following is a condensed version:
Crawford, with his fishing bow, stalked the great fish carefully, knowing he might only get one shot.
When he finally fired, he scored a direct hit, unleashing the fury of the 8-foot, 2-inch beast, which created an explosion of mud and water before it ran toward the lake.
Big problem, because the nylon cord had become tangled at Crawford’s feet, and when he grabbed the line, as it began to tighten, it became wrapped around his hand.
The line went taut and the fish yanked the fisherman into the water headfirst. That’s when Crawford’s dog, Bleux, grabbed him by the cuff of the jeans, creating a bizarre riverbank tug-of-war.
Crawford ultimately was able to free his hand from the cord and stand knee-deep in the shallow canal, gripping his fishing bow, the cord still attached to the mighty fish. “There was no doubt who was in control and it wasn’t me,” the fisherman recalled.
The gar stole 200 feet of cord in a battle that lasted 45 minutes, before Crawford reeled it to the bank. Soaked and exhausted, the fisherman straddled the fish, reached for his cellphone — which he had kept in a waterproof case — and dialed a friend.
The friend arrived with a pistol, which resoundingly ended the struggle, and the two men used a rope and an ATV to drag the quarry to Crawford’s house.
It wasn’t until after Crawford had carved up his catch that he learned the Texas bow-fishing record for alligator gar is 290 pounds, and the overall state record is 302 pounds.
Record or no record, it was a monstrous gar and one of the wildest angling feats in Texas history. It’s a shame that there isn’t a category for that.
— Image showing Brent Crawford with his amazing catch is courtesy of the fisherman