As surprising as it may sound, almost all states of the United States have one or two state fish that symbolizes their state.
Arkansas, also known as “The Natural State” because of the abundant natural features like lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains, did not have a state fish until recently.
The Alligator Gar was raised to “State fish” status because of its exoticness and a small, 10-year-old boy’s dream.
The campaign that boy ran with the slogan “Don’t be a copycatfish! Vote for Alligator Gar!” succeeded, and the governor signed the petition to declare Alligator Gar as the state fish of Arkansas in 2019.
The boy gave some excellent reasons for choosing the Alligator Gar as the state fish and not any other fish.
The Alligator Gar is, in reality, a unique fish and has been present in Arkansas waters for a hundred million years.
Do All states have a state fish?
Like a state animal, bird, fruit or vegetable, etc., there is a state fish.
Almost 45-48 states amongst 50 states of the United States have their own state fish.
Most of them have a freshwater variety, but the states bordering the ocean have usually picked freshwater and saltwater varieties as state fishes.
Although home to nature, Arkansas did not have any state fish until 2019, when Alligator Gar, a unique fish, was declared the state fish.
What is the biggest fish in Arkansas?
Arkansas is home to many lakes and rivers, which are the perfect habitats for a very large variety of fishes and aquatic creatures.
Many professional and amateur anglers and fishers make their way to Arkansas to make a unique catch and try setting up records because many of Arkansas’s catches have made it to the fishing record book.
Some of the largest fishes that have set world records and are humongous include: the state fish-Alligator Gar, catfish, bluegill, smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, and trout.
Paddlefish, pickerel, bowfin, carp, and gar are less popular fish species in Arkansas’s waters.
Alligator Gar-The underwater monster:
The Alligator Gar, in appearance, is one scary fish with an elongated jaw and sharp-edged teeth that will scare you to the spine.
Although the first impression may not be that impressive, the Alligator Gar is passive to humans and will not harm or attack a human.
They are very tough, and, in the olden days, were even used as arrowheads.
They can also survive out of the water, making them ferocious and strong survivors.
The strong build and amazing strength made it the state fish representing strength, toughness, and mightiness.
What does an Alligator Gar look like?
The fish can grow as long as six feet, are very heavy, and can be heavier than 100 pounds.
Smaller sizes are also found, but they can grow huge.
It is usually olive-brown.
The fish has an unusual appearance: a long alligator-like elongated jaw lined with razor-sharp, jagged teeth.
The rest of the body looks like a torpedo and can move like a flash.
The body is covered with very hard scales that are difficult to remove.
Alligator gars usually grow huge, and many have made it to the fishing record book because of their humongous size and weight.
Where and how to catch them?
The Lower Mississippi River Basin is the home to these unique and amazing fishes.
However, they can also be found in other states.
The water bodies that make their perfect habitat are usually slow rivers, oxbows, reservoirs, brackish estuarine waters, and landlocked lakes.
If you are looking to catch a record-breaking gar, you must fish in July and August as they can easily be found in shallow waters.
Alligator Gar enthusiasts must have a free permit from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to get a hold of large Alligator Gars that are longer than 36 inches.
The commission only issues 100 permits for an entire year.
So if you are interested in making a catch, grab a permit between November 1 and December 31 before the permits run out.
Fishing of Alligator Gar is prohibited from May to July to prevent them from getting endangered.
Alligator Gar is a unique fish in terms of appearance and strength.
Although it looks like a crossbreed between an alligator and a pike and is equally strong, but, of course, it is no such cross breed.
Declaring the Alligator as Arkansas’s state fish is the best decision as it is one of the few fishes that have been present in Arkansas’s lakes and rivers for over a hundred million years, making it one of the oldest inhabitants of the area.