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Bow angler gets rare fish – an alligator gar
Start Date: 6/7/2017 All Day
Event Description:

Alligator gar aren’t normally found in Indiana waters, but a bowfisherman harvested one June 1 in the White River in southwestern Indiana. The rare fish, which was taken legally, measured 63 inches and 55 pounds when examined by DNR fisheries biologists.

It is the first alligator gar verified by state biologists in recent history. Indiana is at the northern edge of the historic range of alligator gar, so the species is rarely encountered here. 

DNR fisheries biologists have sampled Indiana’s large rivers extensively for the last 30 years with no alligator gar being collected. Gar species commonly found in Indiana waters are shortnose, longnose, and spotted gar.

DNR biologists are trying to determine the fish’s age and whether or not it was tagged and released by another state. A tagged fish would indicate it was stocked, most likely by Illinois or Kentucky. Both states have current, active stocking programs.

The bowfisherman who harvested the gar met all Indiana fishing rules and regulations.

 “In Indiana, we currently have no regulations on take of alligator gar,” said Brian Schoenung, fisheries chief for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “One alligator gar found in Indiana waters does not create a management need. However, our biologists will be sampling heavily in the area this fish was discovered to determine if any other alligator gar are present.”

Bowfishing is becoming increasingly popular in Indiana and is legal all year for Asian carp, bowfin, buffalo, common carp, gar, shad, and suckers from rivers, streams and lakes or ponds. A fishing license is required.

“Bowfishing is a great sport that requires skill, specialized equipment, and can help use invasive species,” Schoenung said. “Our staff puts on several bowfishing workshops a year to introduce new anglers to the sport.”

Alligator gar were once persecuted and vilified as killers of game fish, but biologists and conservationists now recognize the unique role the species plays as a top level predator. Many states have taken interest in restoring alligator gar populations. To augment stockings, some states have implemented protective regulations.

A restoration program is not being explored at this time in Indiana. 

“Should we find a viable population of alligator gar or as we see more of this species stocked in neighboring states moving into Indiana, we may look to institute management action to regulate take,” Schoenung said. “Such regulations would ensure the protection of alligator gar, while allowing other common species to be harvested.”

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

Contact Information:
Name: Michelle Cain
Phone: (317) 234-8240
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State calendar entry type:
Press Release
State calendar entry category:
Alerts and Notification
State calendar classification:
  • Residents
  • Visiting and Playing
  • Agency Name:
  • Natural Resources, Department of

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