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Paul Easley poses with alligator gar; photo via the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

An Oklahoma angler has landed the largest fish ever caught in the state: a 254-pound alligator gar that measured 8 feet and boasted a 44-inch girth.

Paul Easley snagged the primitive-looking fish this week on Lake Texoma, and released the behemoth after obtaining a weight and measurement.

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation reported via Facebook:

"Snagged from Lake Texoma, this 8 ft. alligator gar weighed 254 pounds with a girth of 44 inches and is the largest fish ever caught in Oklahoma waters. Not only is this a massive fish, but it is also a very special and unique fish. Alligator gar are long-lived with only periodic spawning opportunities."

Alligator gars, which are named because of their gator-like snout and long, sharp teeth, are ferocious-looking and have been known to prey on fish, turtles and birds. But unlike alligators, they have not been implicated on attacks on humans.

They reside only in North and Central America. In the U.S., they inhabit coastal waters throughout the Southeast.

These fish have a fairly rich history. Native Americans and Caribbean natives used their scales to fashion arrowheads and breastplates, while early settlers tanned their skins and used them as leather. Gar oil was used by Arkansans as a gnat repellent.

Alligator gar populations have been decimated over time, but in recent years states have enacted conservation measures to help recovery efforts.

For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Association lists as the all-tackle world record a 279-pound alligator gar caught on the Rio Grande in Texas in 1951.

Easley wasn't too far off that mark.

 

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