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Saw this CBS news story. Looks like you better be getting one before they're regulated.

It's a toothy giant that can grow longer than a horse and heavier than a refrigerator, a fearsome-looking prehistoric fish that plied U.S. waters from the Gulf of Mexico to Illinois until it disappeared from many states a half-century ago.

Persecuted by anglers and deprived of places to spawn, the alligator gar — with a head that resembles an alligator and two rows of needlelike teeth — survived primarily in southern states in the tributaries of the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico after being declared extinct in several states farther north. To many, it was a freak, a "trash fish" that threatened sportfish, something to be exterminated.

But the once-reviled predator is now being seen as a valuable fish in its own right, and as a potential weapon against a more threatening intruder: the invasive Asian carp, which have swum almost unchecked toward the Great Lakes, with little more than an electric barrier to keep them at bay. Efforts are now underway to reintroduce the alligator gar in the northern part of its old range.

"What else is going to be able to eat those monster carp?" said Allyse Ferrara, an alligator gar expert at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, where the species is relatively common. "We haven't found any other way to control them."

Alligator gar, the second-largest U.S. freshwater fish behind the West Coast's white sturgeon, have shown a taste for Asian carp, which have been spreading and out-competing native fish for food. The gar dwarf the invaders, which themselves can grow to 4 feet and 100 pounds. The largest alligator gar caught was 8 ½ feet and 327 pounds, though they can grow larger.

Native Americans once used their enamel-like scales as arrow points, and early settlers covered plow blades with their tough skin and scales. But a mistaken belief that they hurt sportfish led to widespread extermination throughout the 1900s, when they were often shot or blown up with dynamite.

"Some horrible things have been done to this fish," said Ferrara, adding that sport fisheries are healthier with gar to keep troublesome species like carp under control. "It's similar to how we used to think of wolves; we didn't understand the role they played in the ecosystem."

Gar now are being restocked in lakes, rivers and backwaters — sometimes in secret locations — in several states. In May, Illinois lawmakers passed a resolution urging state natural resources officials to speed up its program and adopt regulations to protect all four gar species native to the state.

But the extent to which gar could control carp now is not well understood, and some people are skeptical.

"I don't think alligator gar are going to be the silver bullet that is going to control carp, by any stretch of the imagination," said Rob Hilsabeck, an Illinois biologist who says the best hope is that carp will sustain an alligator gar fishery to draw trophy hunters.

Others are more optimistic about the impact once the larger fish is established, which might require cutting notches in canals to give them access to spawning sites.

Asian carp reproduce more quickly but alligator gar also grow fast: Alligator gar stocked in one Illinois lake six years ago already are more than 4 feet long.

Quinton Phelps, a Missouri state fish ecologist, said the only way to effectively control carp is when they're smaller, before they can spawn. Which is where alligator gar come in.

"There is potential for them to be a wonderful weapon, but it's just potential right now," he said.

One challenge is that huge gar could become a temptation for trophy fishermen, even before they're old enough to spawn.

"It will be interesting to see if fishermen have enough integrity to pass up a 7-foot fish that's 200 pounds," said Christopher Kennedy, a Missouri fisheries supervisor who's working on catch regulations. "We'd love to create a self-sustaining population that we can turn into a trophy fishery."

Still, the fish has a public relations problem in some circles, including a boating group in Illinois, whose members recently derided it as a "trash fish" and questioned reintroduction efforts.

But avid angler Olaf Nelson, who in 2013 was the first to catch an alligator gar in Illinois in 50 years — a 2-footer in a stocked lake — said they're important whether anyone wants to fish for them or not.

"Whether they're loved or hated, they're a natural part of the Illinois ecosystem," he said. "It's pretty rare that we can fix a mistake."
 

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According to everyone that has read this they are thick and an invasive species. People are so dumb I hope they start spawning that would be awesome. There are far to many silvers for the to get them under control.
 

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According to everyone that has read this they are thick and an invasive species. People are so dumb I hope they start spawning that would be awesome. There are far to many silvers for the to get them under control.
X2 and as far as the stupid electric fence to keep them out of the Great Lakes,kind of like snakeheads spreading in the northeast, when the biologist finally realize and admit that invasives will spread by migrating waterfowl and water birds spreading fish eggs and there is no real way to halt the spread whether fish, plants or zebra mussels....
 

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I would think stocking snakeheads would be better than GG-they are far better suited to trim the numbers of silvers. They seem far more aggressive, and I'd imagine they have a faster metabolism, seeing how they are a hardy cold weather fish by nature. Higher metabolism means they need to eat more. GG, especially mature ones, just don't seem like they'd eat enough to put any kind of dent in the silver population?

Snakeheads aren't the ideal solution obviously, but a river full of those would be better than a river full of silvers. Snakeheads are good eating, are able to be caught on rod and reel, and they don't jump and injure people like silvers. As far as native gamefish....they are pretty much screwed anyways with the silvers, so that's a moot point.

On a side note, whoever wrote this article needs punched in the nuts for even suggesting re-introducing Wolves was a good idea.
 

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I would think stocking snakeheads would be better than GG-they are far better suited to trim the numbers of silvers. They seem far more aggressive, and I'd imagine they have a faster metabolism, seeing how they are a hardy cold weather fish by nature. Higher metabolism means they need to eat more. GG, especially mature ones, just don't seem like they'd eat enough to put any kind of dent in the silver population?

Snakeheads aren't the ideal solution obviously, but a river full of those would be better than a river full of silvers. Snakeheads are good eating, are able to be caught on rod and reel, and they don't jump and injure people like silvers. As far as native gamefish....they are pretty much screwed anyways with the silvers, so that's a moot point.

On a side note, whoever wrote this article needs punched in the nuts for even suggesting re-introducing Wolves was a good idea.

Snakeheads are slowly migrating towards you, are now established and verified in the C & O canal above the Potomac tidal line at Great Falls and also in the Potomac above great falls.... And the C & O canal connects Chesapeake bay to Ohio River they are heading to you slowly
 

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Snakeheads are slowly migrating towards you, are now established and verified in the C & O canal above the Potomac tidal line at Great Falls and also in the Potomac above great falls.... And the C & O canal connects Chesapeake bay to Ohio River they are heading to you slowly
I'm sure they'll be coast to coast eventually.

I do wonder if they totally take over like silvers, or if they eventually find their niche and coexist with native predators like bass, catfish, walleye, etc?
 

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Down here the MDWFP has been stocking gator gar in public waterways for years, Ive never seen one eating a silver. But last time out I did see some longnose dinks about 18 inches or so chowing down on an injured bighead ,so maybe if they are in the mood for Chinese food. Another interesting trend is when the water gets hot down here in August there are massive die offs of silvers, they cant handle the hot water and low oxygen levels that gar can.
 

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They are stocking GG here too. They say it was because they were once native here, but I have heard they hope they will feed on the Asian Carp. We also had a HUGE die off a few years ago, estimated 500,000 fish died below Barkley Dam.
 

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Gar are not the ferocious beasts the uneducated often make them out to be. It just goes to remind us how moronic and quick-to-judge people often are. They see a fish with teeth and freak out, "OMG, I'm never setting foot in that lake again!" Really? So you swam there all your life and never had the flesh stripped from your bones by them, but now that you know they're there, they must be monsters out to get you? Please! Their tiny teeth are for gripping small fish, not tearing large animals limb from limb. Their torpedo-shaped body is for efficiently cruising along with little effort, not chasing down helpless prey to savagely destroy it. I have witnessed gar feeding on countless occasions, and most of the time it is absolutely docile. They simply cruise along and open their mouth when they see something edible, often not even speeding up to chase it. I have seen them attack swarms of fish fry that hole up in bays, but even then they are nowhere near as ferocious as something like a bass. They do eat asian carp fry. I have no experience with alligator gar, but I'm sure they share many traits with their smaller cousins. Bigger fish have bigger appetites, but there's no way they will put a crippling dent in the carp population. They are trying to re-introduce them here, but I don't see it working. They died off once (1970's?) and I don't see the conditions being much different today. If the conditions here were conducive to them, they would swim here through the rivers on their own. The dams have changed the river systems and some fish just didn't handle it well. I'm afraid the damage is already done. The only thing that will bridle the proliferation of asian carp at this point is Mother Nature herself. Humans are too selfish, lazy, and incompetent. The only way humans will ever do it is like Payphone says and make it "cool" to eat them and catch them. Not gonna happen.
 

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Don't know about gator gar but we tried shortnose gar in experiments in ponds to see how much silver carp they ate. Fact of the matter is that the gar ate silvers, but in reality they just didn't eat much at all of anything. They are very low metabolism unless it is very hot, so they just don't eat much (as adults - I think that is probably different for the really small ones, because they grow so fast when they are very little).
 

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As far as Silvers go: Every person with a boat could spend one day a week on the water, every week, shooting silvers with shotguns, and you wouldn't make a dent.

Gator Gar: are a beautiful native species; should be a prized catch. I don't mind regulation, as long as it's science based and reasonable to keep their numbers healthy. But the a fact is, there has been very little research done, and we know very little about their reproductive capacity.
 
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