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Fred Dahmer [00:00:00] Alligator gar were one of my favorite fish. Of course I didn't fish for them, and I certainly didn't eat them, but they were magnificent specimens of what Caddo Lake had.

Fred Dahmer [00:00:19] Alligator gar attained lengths of 12 feet or more. There were a lot of them in Caddo Lake that were at least 12 feet.

Fred Dahmer [00:00:31] And I well remember one instance when I was in the AnnPat boat that I mentioned before and was alone. And I remember I was going down the stretch of Alligator Bayou when a large gar surfaced right next to the boat. I could have reached out from the boat. Now I had the motor running and was just idling along, slightly more than idling, but running very slow, and this broad back came up right beside me. I could have put my hand on the back of this large alligator gar. The alligator's nose was a big, broad nose. And it looked like it reached almost to the front of the boat, the point of the boat. And the tail looked like it reached back really behind the motor a little bit of my boat. So that gar's length would have been comparable - I won't say it was 15 feet, but it was comparable to the length of my boat of 15 feet. That would have been an extremely large alligator gar. But I saw it. And I had something solid to compare it to and feel sure it was comparable to 15 feet. So say it was 15 feet, but maybe it was 14. On the other hand, maybe it was 15. And I'm sure in weight too, it weighed more than my boat does. In any event, that was the largest I've ever seen.

Fred Dahmer [00:02:28] But I also saw the death of alligator gars in Caddo Lake.

Fred Dahmer [00:02:33] And I told you about my neighbor, J.D. Spivey, who lived next door. And he had a friend, who was also a friend of mine. And I don't know if I told you about the spawning of the alligator gar at the head of the Government Ditch near my house. But the alligator gar - apparently all of them in Caddo Lake, so far as I knew - and I say apparently, all of them gathered at that point at a certain time in the spring, and the time was very close to near the same calendar date, but not exactly.

Fred Dahmer [00:03:25] The alligator gar congregated in this one group and so occupied the rather narrow though deep channel at the head of this upper ditch that they actually made passage of a boat impossible. You had to force your way through alligator gars, they were so close together. They were thickly packed in there, and they were sparring and jumping and splashing. It was, it was quite a sight. And it happened each year in the spring, and I'm sure it was the spawning rites. Now I don't know that it was the act of spawning. I doubt that that was taking place. It was a rite, I think. At least, that's my impression. And they were packed. I've heard the expression, "packed like sardines", and hard to compare these gar to sardines. They were far from sardines. They were huge. But they were putting on a demonstration that was remarkable.

Fred Dahmer [00:04:50] And at least it was a perfect situation for the work, which J.D. Spivey and this other man to perform. And they had been hired, they told me, by the state of Texas, to net all of the alligator gars in Caddo Lake. The state of Texas wished to get 'em out of the way, that they ate the game fish. And because the alligator gars ate the game fish and the fishermen loved to catch the game fish, why, they were going to improve Caddo Lake by eliminating gars that were detrimental to the game fish.

Fred Dahmer [00:05:44] So they had great big hoop nets, and at that time I had a camera with me and I photgraphed them in position with their hoop nets at the head of the ditch where the gars held their annual mating ritual. I think they did this on two seasons and I think I had more than one picture of it.

Fred Dahmer [00:06:14] And sure enough, they got 'em all, so far as I'm able to tell. I can't find anybody that claims to have seen one. So as I understand, any race when it's reduced below a certain point, that it goes on to extinction like passenger pigeons.

Fred Dahmer [00:06:41] And I think that was was after World War II. So it must've been about between, say, '47 and '50. So it must've been about '48 or '49.