Most people think of fishing as a relaxing way to pass the day. But for YouTuber and conservationist Payton Moore, recent fishing hasn’t been relaxing at all — instead, it’s turned into a real fearless monster hunt.
Last week, a Texan set sail on the Houston Channel in search of a truly giant alligator pike (Atractosteus spatula), which is over 8 feet (2.5 meters) long and weighs approximately 300 pounds (136 kilograms). And you know, in the end he found what he was looking for, moreover, he even managed to catch this giant fish.
After pulling a huge fish ashore and measuring it, he released the pike back into the wild. Then, on May 7th, he uploaded the captured video of the catch to his WILD LIFE channel.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, officially the largest such pike ever caught in Texas is a fish weighing 302 pounds (137 kg). She was caught in 1953 on a line – a thick line with shorter baited lines attached along its entire length at regular intervals. Moore’s catch might have outweighed the previous champion, but since the fisherman did not apply for official certification, his fish cannot claim the record.
Alligator pikes (or Mississippian shells) belong to an ancient genus of fish that were once widespread throughout the world. According to the Florida Museum, fossil remains of extinct pikes of this species dating back to the Cretaceous period (from 145 to 66 million years ago) have been found in Europe, Africa and South Asia. To date, only 7 species have survived.
The alligator pike, the largest living species of pike, is among the largest freshwater fish in North America, according to National Geographic. They live exclusively in the lower Mississippi River valley, where they feed on small fish, blue crabs, waterfowl and occasionally turtles. And although adult Mississippian shells may look intimidating, they do not pose a threat to humans. However, like other shellfish, their eggs (roe) are toxic to humans and should not be eaten.
Historically, various state and federal agencies have culled pike to make more room for game fish. But in recent years, there has been increased conservation efforts from organizations such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And while there are several bans on pike fishing (besides the alligator pike catch limit of one fish per day), Smith recommends that anglers interested in pike fishing take a catch-and-release approach.
Moore hopes that by sharing his video of the giant carapace, he will help inspire respect for nature in anyone who encounters such a huge fish.