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  1. #1
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    Man lands 'once-in-a-lifetime fish'

    When Blake Shelby’s arrow found its mark on an alligator gar in Bayou DeSiard near Frenchman’s Bend, he found himself in a fight reminiscent of “The Old Man and the Sea.”

    “It drug me all over the bayou,” said Shelby, the marketing director for PSE Archery. “It pulled me around for 30 or 40 minutes before I tied off the first arrow and got another one in it.”

    Finally, after almost an hour and three arrows, Shelby landed the prehistoric-looking fish with ganoid scales that work like medieval chain mail armor. It weighed 210 pounds and was 8 feet, 4 inches long.

    “I’ve never seen anything close to it,” said Shelby, who bow fishes for gar almost every afternoon when he’s home in Monroe. “I saw a fin underneath a grass matt and got a good shot, but I had no idea it was that big.”

    Shelby’s alligator gar is a Louisiana bow fishing record, according to Mark Lee of the Bowfishing Association of America.

    “It beat the old record by 60 pounds,” Lee said. The world record is 244 pounds, 8 ounces by Robin Parks, who landed that gar on Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas in 2005.

    Mike Wood, the statewide program manager for fisheries management, said the gar could be 50 years old.

    “It’s an enormous fish,” Wood said. “It’s an exceptional species, a beautiful fish that was around when the dinosaurs were here. It’s very hearty and tolerant of low water.”

    Though Shelby said the gar “was loaded with teeth,” Wood said the fish is no threat to people or pets.

    Since landing the gar during the late afternoon on May 26, Shelby said he’s received calls and e-mails from all over the country from people who saw a photo of Shelby and the fish being distributed on the Internet.

    “They wanted to know if it was for real,” Shelby said.

    It took him almost 14 hours to find scales that could certify the gar’s weight.

    “I finally took it to the post office and they weighed it on bulk mailing scales after putting some plastic over it,” Shelby said.

    Shelby said he has hired a taxidermist to mount the alligator gar. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime fish,” he said.

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    pgg's Avatar
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