Texas Angler Lands Rare Melanistic Spotted Gar

Jerry Threet was fishing the Austin Bayou in southeast Texas on May 18 when he made an unexpected catch: a black gar. That morning, Threet had already caught a 5-foot alligator gar. The second fish that bit was something special.

“I set the hook, the gar jumped out of the water, and I seen it was black,” Threet told Chron. After a brief fight, Threet managed to get the unusual specimen to shore.

“Gar mouth is solid bone. It’s hard to hook. I try not to let the fish swallow hooks,” he added. “I got it up close to the bank, grabbed the leader and the gar’s tail, and drug him onto the grass. The hook was barely in.”

Threet took several photos with his catch before throwing it back into the bayou. According to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Facebook Post, the fish has a genetic condition called “melanism,” which causes the excessive production of melanin, resulting in darker than usual color variations in animals. It’s a similar but distinct genetic condition to leucism, which typically causes lighter-than-usual pigmentation. Melanism is a rare but not unheard of condition in gar; in 2022, Field & Stream reported on a melanistic alligator gar that was also caught in southeast Texas.

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Texas Parks and Wildlife identified Threet’s fish as an alligator gar. However, Dr. Solomon David, a leading gar researcher with the University of Minnesota, says that the fish is more likely a spotted gar based on its narrow snout and body morphology.

Regardless, it’s an awesome catch. “I hope that black gar lives a full life or that the next angler will release her healthy as well,” said Threet.

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