Joseph Williams of Cleveland, Texas, fishes the Trinity River below Lake Livingston dam about 30 weekends a year, trying to catch big alligator gar and release them alive.
In April he landed a 200-pound-plus monster that did not survive and became the rod and reel record for the Trinity, but he had a higher goal in mind: the state catch-and-release record, which requires that fish be photographed, measured and released alive.
On July 4 Williams succeeded, landing and releasing an 88-inch-long gar that he will submit for recognition as the new state catch-and-release record.
Williams is passionate about conserving these trophy fish, using a circle hook or small treble hook to hook them in the mouth. He fishes from a small, 14-foot boat that lets the fish tow him around without straightening the hook.
Williams’s fish topped the previous catch-and-release record of 80 inches caught by Leo Flores from Choke Canyon Reservoir in March 2011.