Captain Kirk Kirkland is known as the ‘world’s best alligator gar guide’ and he has over 100 IGFA fishing world records to back up that claim.
Capt. Kirkland recently guided a client to another pending world record alligator gar while fishing on the Trinity River near Huntsville, Texas.
The behemoth 251-pound alligator gar would beat the existing IGFA fishing world record for the 80-pound line class by a whopping 60 pounds. And the best part of this story is that the fish was released alive and healthy back into the water.
On Instagram, Kirland described himself as “the original catch-and-release alligator gar fishing guide here in Texas.” This is an important point because most anglers targeting alligator gar, a remarkable species for many reasons, do so using a bow and arrow and they kill the fish for sport because they aren’t good to eat.
Check out this pending world record fish:
Captain Kirkland told Travis Hall of Field & Stream they “had a certified crane scale and a game wench on hand, and we recorded it and released it alive.” This was a crucial step in certifying the pending world record alligator gar.
Normally, a fish would need to be taken to a certified scale at a marina, or a shipping center. This requires keeping the fish alive in a cooler or baitwell on a boat.
Steps In Certifying The New IGFA Alligator Gar World Record
The fact that Capt. Kirkland had a certified scale with them almost certainly kept the 251-pound alligator gar alive. He also told Field & Stream they were using ‘cut carp for bait’ and they fought the fish for 25 minutes on rod and reel before they were able to lasso the fish and get it to the scale.
There are a LOT of IGFA world records for alligator gar. This pending record is specific to the ‘line class’, or the strength of the fishing line they were using. Specifically, 80-pound test.
The current record for 80lb line is a 86.89 kg (191 lb 9 oz) fish caught on, you guessed, the Trinity River, which is the same place this fish was caught.
In fact, of all 22 line-class world records for alligator gar (men’s and women’s records), 18 of the 22 world records were caught on the Trinity River in Texas.
The all-tackle (every line class) IGFA world record for alligator gar, however, was caught on the Rio Grande in Texas. That was a whopping 279 lb 0 oz fish that was landed by angler Bill Valverde in 1951.
What makes alligator gar so special?
The Alligator Gar is considered a ‘living fossil’ as the fossil records of these fish date back 100 million years virtually unchanged.
There are seven distinct species of gar on the planet (Alligator, Longnose, Spotted, Shortnose, Florida, Cuban, and Tropical). They are found throughout the United States and particularly throughout the South.
According to the Florida Museum, “Gars also have a highly vascularized swim bladder connected to the pharynx by a pneumatic duct. This enables them to gulp air, which aids in facultative air breathing. This allows gar to breathe when there are very low oxygen levels in the water.”
Alligator gar can grow up to 10-feet-long, and are said to have weighed over 300 pounds in the past.