Louisiana Man Catches Rare Black Fish in Tennessee River
Greg Ursin from Lafitte, Louisiana, recently enjoyed a catch of a lifetime. And he knew something was a bit different the moment he hooked it.
Ursin was fishing the French Broad River in East Tennessee with a guide when he hooked a gar. Being from the Bayou State, he surely knew what a gar looked like, but this one stood out.
This particular gar was all black.
Knowing that something was unique about his fish, Ursin sent a photo of it to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). It was then that TWRA Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds identified it as a melanistic longnose gar.
The TWRA's Angler's Guide to Tennessee describes the longnose gar as a predatory fish that typically prefers warmer waters and preys on other fish like sunfish, shad, minnows, catfish and carp. While the average longnose gar is about 20 inches long, they can grow up to 36 inches. The state record weighed in at 38 pounds and three ounces.
Basically, this particular black longnose gar is the opposite of an albino. And while the TWRA says that pigmentation mutations can occur in most species of fish, this particular all-black deformity is quite rare.
The TWRA says melanism is more rare than other odd color fish traits like leucism. Leucism is the lack of certain pigments so the fish appears a very light color like off-white, yellow or even orange.
Thankfully, either of the aforementioned deformities is known to be harmful to fish, but often times it makes the individual fish stand out and they become prey when they are very young. That's why so few are seen.
Ursin told a local TV station he spotted the gar and had no plans to cast at it initially. He even couldn't tell it was black at first. But after his guide told him to go ahead and give it a try, he hooked it within moments.
Neither Ursin nor his guide had ever seen a black gar before.
After taking a picture with the one-in-a-million fish, Ursin released it back into the river.