Payton Moore of Sugar Land posted a YouTube video over the weekend showing his 15-minute battle with a giant alligator gar that may have been one of the largest ever hooked in North America.
Moore caught and released the 8-foot-2-inch fish in a remote area of a Houston-area bayou which he declined to name. He estimates it weighed more than 300 pounds. The largest ever caught was an 8-foot-5-inch, 327-pounder hooked in 2011 by a commercial fisherman in Mississippi's Lake Chotard.
Moore, 32, regularly posts such catch-and-release adventures to his YouTube channel, "Wild Life." But he considers this encounter very special. Alligator gars have a unique breathing system - they come to the surface to take in air, and Moore described snagging one of the last remaining examples of the Cretaceous-era fish as "bittersweet."
Moore, a conservationist and former member of the Houston Zoo's education team, says he uses circle hooks for his videos because they're easy to remove from a fish's mouth.
Gars are considered "trash fish" since they're unfit for human consumption, and Texas has sponsored culling campaigns in the past to purge them from state waterways. Currently, Texas anglers are allowed to catch one alligator gar per day. Meanwhile, other states protect them as an ecologically vital species.