I know a Texan named after a fish that I thought was a Texas only thing, that being Gar the Fish and the Texan being Gar the Texan.
Both Gar the Fish and Gar the Texan look like somehow a big snake had mated with an alligator creating a very scary looking mutant.
I think the actual name of Gar the Fish is Alligator Gar. I think the actual name of Gar the Texan is Garland the Texan. Maybe he is named after the Dallas suburb of Garland and not the fish.
That is a guy named Tom Wingstad, from a Texas town named Draper, in the photo. Earlier this month he caught the Alligator Gar you see in the photo. He caught it in the Trinity River that flows through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and my backyard. It took Mr. Wingstad 25 minutes to land the 200 pound monster estimated to be about 50 years old.
I have only seen an Alligator Gar once. At a creek crossing at Village Creek Historical Area in Arlington. I was roller blading, ahead of me, on a creek crossing, I saw a guy looking at something. So, I stopped and asked what he was looking at.
He pointed to the creek and said something like, "on this side I'm looking at a big Garfish and on that side I'm keeping my eye on a big Cottonmouth."
I looked at the Garfish first. I'd never seen anything like it before. I was appalled when the guy told me that Garfish are in a lot of Texas lakes.
And then I looked at the Cottonmouth. It was slithering towards us. Both of us decided it was time to stop gawking at critters and move along.
A couple weeks after that I was mountain biking at trails at Lake Grapevine called Horseshoe. I coasted out on a dock where there were a couple of bikinied sunbathers. They told me a few days earlier one of their friends had stepped on to the teeth of an open-mouthed Garfish. A quick visit to an Emergency Room followed.
So, I went from not knowing this critter existed, seeing my first one and then hearing an account of someone stepping on a Garfish, within a couple weeks. I stayed out of Texas lakes for a long time after the Garfish revelation.
And then this morning I read that a garfish has been caught in Kiwanis Lake in Tempe, Arizona. Garfish do not belong in Arizona. They can cause all sorts of problem to a lake's ecosystem. So, Arizona Fish and Game officials are on the case.