Biologists hope to increase Alligator Gar conservation on East Texas waterways

Biologists hope to increase Alligator Gar conservation on East Texas waterways

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Alligator Gar are starting to become a big trophy fish in Texas and now biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division are starting to notice.

While they are predominantly on the Trinity River, the species of fish are starting to gain popularity on the Sam Rayburn Lake and on Toledo Bend. Biologist in the East Texas Region are working with Biologist all around the state to make sure there are enough gar to last future generations. With bass fishing, the state has the Toyota Sharelunker program which has been beneficial to growing the population of larger bass for anglers to go after. A similar program could be launched with gar if the state commissioners see fit after they loom over the results of a survey put out bu the TPWD.

The survey is in online form and will remain active until July31.

"We have about 10,000 completed surveys," Biologist Dan Ashe said. "We want as many people to help us figure out the future of gar in East Texas. The more the merrier. You don't even have to fish to fill it out. You can fill it out if you are just concerned about conserving the species.

Ashe has been in East Texas for 13 years. Some years have spawned larger groups of gar. It all depends on Spring time flooding events. The TPWD spawns bass and catfish in their fisheries around the state including ones in Brookland and Athens. Ashe believes the best option for gar growth is to happen naturally in the flooded waters in the spring.

"Hurricane Harvey did not do much for the gar population," Ashe said. "We really need it to happen in the Spring during the spawning season."

Ashe does not see an increase in gar population as a threat to the success anglers have had on Rayburn when it comes to catching bass.

"We did a study a few years back because people were concerned that the gar where hurting the bass population," Ashe said. We harvested 100 of them and we saw that they mostly fed on plants and on chad. We saw some bass but it looked to be from convenience and not a part of their every day diet."

TPWD is asking for anyone who has an interest in conservation efforts or in fishing to take the survey online that will be up until the end of the month. The survey can be found in English here and Spanish here.