Monster, Record-Breaking Longnose Gar Caught by Georgia Woman

A "monster," record-breaking longnose gar has been caught by a woman in Georgia. The fish weighed in at 31lbs 2oz, breaking the previous state record of 30lb 13oz set almost a decade ago.

Rachel Harrison, from Adairsville, was fishing on the Coosa River near Rome on March 19 when she reeled in the giant longnose gar. Two days later, The Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) confirmed the catch surpassed the previous state record.

"Congrats to Rachel Harrison!" WRD fisheries chief Scott Robinson said in a statement. "State records do not get broken every day, so for Georgia to have three new records in this short time span just shows you that our waters are producing great fish right now.

longnose gar
Rachel Harrison, from Adairsville, with the state record-breaking longnose gar. Georgia DNR

"Who will catch the next one? It might be you–but you have to get outdoors and Go Fish Georgia!"

The longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) is a prehistoric species of fish thought to have lived in North America for around 100 million years. They are long, thin torpedo-shaped fish with toothy snouts that are twice as long as their heads. Their bodies are covered with thick, overlapping scales and they grow to around five feet in length.

In North America, longnose gar are found in river systems across the eastern coast and into the Gulf of Mexico. They are found in all of the Great Lakes bar Lake Superior. They tend to be found in slow-moving streams, rivers, bayous and estuaries, preferring backwater to moving streams.

Longnose gar serve as the apex predator in many of the areas they are found, meaning they controls the ecosystem and the populations of other species within.

An image of Harrison with the record-breaking longnose-gar was shared to Facebook by the Georgia DNR. The length of the catch was not revealed, but the photograph shows a tape measure that showed the longnose gar was around five feet long.

Jim Hakala, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor for Northwest Georgia, told Newsweek the longnose gar is a very common native species in the Coosa River.

"While some anglers pursue longnose gar specifically, they are often caught incidentally by anglers fishing for other game fish," he said. "While not necessarily hard to catch, they can be hard to 'hook' and land given their armored, boney exterior, sharp teeth, and powerful body design.

"It can be difficult to get a good hook set on a longnose gar given their hardened mouth structure. Even once hooked, their conspicuously sharp teeth, rough skin and sheer power can wreak havoc on fishing line, resulting in breakoffs for many."

According to The International Game Fish Association, the world record for the biggest longnose gar was broken by Rock Shaw, who caught a 43lb specimen in the Trinity River, Texas, in 2017.

Another 43lb 1oz large longnose gar was caught by Don Henson, from Mississippi, in 2017. According to the Clarion Ledger, after confirming the catch with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Henson fileted the fish and shared it with his friends. "They were excited to get that fish," He told the newspaper. "They devoured it."

This article has been updated to include quotes from Jim Hakala.

Correction March 24 3:44 a.m. ET: This article has been corrected to say longnose gar grow up to five feet.