Cleveland Angler Sets New State Catch-and-Release Record for Alligator Gar

Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov

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ATHENS—Joseph Williams of Cleveland, Texas, fishes the Trinity River below Lake Livingston dam about 30 weekends a year, trying to catch big alligator gar and release them alive.

In April he landed a 200-pound-plus monster that did not survive and became the rod and reel record for the Trinity, but he had a higher goal in mind: the state catch-and-release record, which requires that fish be photographed, measured and released alive.

On July 4 Williams succeeded, landing and releasing an 88-inch-long gar that he will submit for recognition as the new state catch-and-release record.

Williams is passionate about conserving these trophy fish, using a circle hook or small treble hook to hook them in the mouth. He fishes from a small, 14-foot boat that lets the fish tow him around without straightening the hook.

Williams’s fish topped the previous catch-and-release record of 80 inches caught by Leo Flores from Choke Canyon Reservoir in March 2011.