Jerrime Tucker of Conway used his bow recently to take the biggest spotted gar ever recorded in Arkansas, topping a mark that had held for almost 12 years.
Tucker was bowfishing in Lake Conway on March 18 when he caught the spotted gar, which weighed 12 pounds, 5 ounces, setting the mark for largest spotted gar taken with unrestricted tackle. Unrestricted tackle is anything other than rod and reel. The previous mark of 11 pounds, 12 ounces was set by Joseph Miller of Clinton, who took his fish on April 9, 2005, in Lake Overcup.
Tucker's record-setting gar, which measured 41.3 inches from tip of nose to tip of tail and had a girth around the dorsal fin of 10 inches, was weighed at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Mayflower office. Tucker was fishing with Brandon Capps of Jacksonville in a bowfishing tournament at night on Lake Conway.
"We were trolling through some buckbrush and saw it," Tucker said. "At first, neither one of us thought it was that big. It came off the first time, but we chased it down. When I pulled it out, Brandon said, 'That looks like a state record. Heck, that might be a world record.'"
They put in a call to Mark Lee, Arkansas Chapter president of the Bowfishing Association of America, who checked and confirmed they had a state record contender. Tucker said they put the gar in the cooler and had the AGFC's Tom Bly weigh it the next afternoon in Mayflower.
Tucker is a bricklayer in Conway. He says he's shot an 80-pound buffalo in the past, but most of the gar he's encountered have been around 7-8 pounds, though some he caught around Lake Dardanelle might be closer to 10 pounds. He also likes to bowfish for catfish when they are in season, as well as carp and sucker, he said.
"I hope to get out and try to get an even bigger spotted gar," he said. "In fact, a couple of weeks after this one, I was out at Lake Conway with another friend and we had one that fell off that sure looked like it was bigger than this one. And it was pretty much in the same place where I got this one. So there's another record-size one out there."
Anglers who believe they have caught or shot a record fish can fill out a State Record Fish Application through a local AGFC District Fisheries Office. A fisheries professional of the AGFC or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must verify the species and the weight of the fish. A digital photo of the angler with the fish must be included with the application for it to be considered and certified as a state record.
For more information, contact the AGFC Fisheries Division at 501-223-6428.