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Alligator Gar

When we moved to the west end of Beaumont, our new house on Potter Dr. backed up to a drainage ditch. Because the land is so flat and the area is so prone to heavy rains, Beaumont has dozes of these ditches, designed to help move water away in the event of flooding (which happened all too often). The ditch was probably 20' across and 10' deep, and usually only had a stream at the bottom that was a few inches deep.

Behind our house, however, was a large culvert that fed (presumably) from the street-level drainage system into the ditch. Because of the extra inflow of water from the side, the ditch had formed a small pond there, maybe 10 feet in diameter and (I’m guessing) 2-3 feet deep. In the ditch we found crawfish, which we caught with pieces of bacon tied to string. In the pond there actually lived minnows and a few small perch.

One year we found a number of alligator gar. How they got there I have no idea; I presume that the the eggs fell off some visiting bird. In any event, we encountered these little gar in the ditch—about six inches long, and half of that was mouth with dozens of needle sharp teeth.

It was my brother Mark who came up with the idea of catching a few and putting them in our aquarium so that we could see them close up. We had a net; we caught the fish; we rushed them up the side of the ditch and across the yard, into the house, and deposited them in the aquarium alongside our Betas, neon tetras, and other beautiful (and expensive) tropical fish. And the gar really were very cool to look at—like little, deadly torpedoes.

When Mom & Dad got home, we proudly called them into the den to show off our catch.

“But where are all the fish?” said Mom.

Mark and I stared blankly at one another. “They were here earlier.”

Apparently, gar will eat anything. These seemed to have developed a taste for something exotic.

Glen Campbell
June 24, 2012