Angler sets a new Vermont fishing record for the largest longnose gar

Angler sets a new Vermont fishing record for the largest longnose gar

A Pennsylvania angler caught a longnose fish in Lake Champlain last year, state officials announced this week.

At 54.75 inches long and weighing 18.6 pounds, the gar is the largest longnose gar ever caught with a bow since records began in 1969.

Jeremy Bicking of Pennsylvania caught the fish in May 2023. Bicking said every year he goes to Vermont with his younger brother and father to visit his uncle in Vermont.

Bowfishing is the art of hunting using a bow or crossbow with an attached line to catch fish. Peking used a compound bow to catch his prize-winning neighbor.

While many bowhunters choose to hunt at night, using lights to illuminate the water without the glare of the sun, Peking and his family hunt in daylight with the help of polarized lenses. It was earlier in May than they were used to and a little colder, and it took several hours of searching to find the fish, Bicking said.

“We shot a few gar, and then I was in front of the boat and saw the larger gar that I shot go through. At the time, we didn’t really realize how big it was,” Pecking said. “And then, after the fact, my younger brother said, ‘We have to “We have to really weigh this because I think it could be close to the state record.”

As it turns out, it was heavier than the then-record, 17.9-pound, 50.5-inch shot set in 1996 by Tom Casavant, according to state records. Bicking officially weighed himself on a state-certified scale the day after the record was confirmed and submitted with the required paperwork. Then he sliced ​​it, chopped it, and deep-fried it.

“We’ve always been taught that you don’t shoot or harvest anything unless you plan to eat it,” Pecking said.

While this was the largest longnose gar ever caught with a bow, one caught with a rod and reel in 2007 was a quarter-inch shorter and 3 ounces heavier. The state keeps separate records for fish caught with a bow and those caught with a rod because the former allows the angler to target the fish directly, said Sean Good, a fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

Like many fish species, female longnose gar are much larger than males. In Vermont, where the fish’s ability to grow is limited in cold winters, the average longnose gar is 30 to 40 inches long, Judd said.

Picking, who learned to fish as a child from his father and has been fishing for 12 to 15 years, said he is excited to return to Lake Champlain for a family trip this year.

“We now have a new record to try to beat ourselves,” Peking said.

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