Rensselaer County Angler Catches State Record Fish

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Rensselaer County Angler Catches State Record Fish

Longnose gar is third state record fish caught this year

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner (DEC) Basil Seggos announced today that a new state record fish - the third this year - was caught in August, breaking a longstanding record for longnose gar. Michael Gatus, of Hoosick Falls, caught a 14 lb., 10 oz., longnose gar from Lake Champlain in Washington County on Aug. 18 using chunk bait. The catch broke the 1999 New York State record by more than 1½ pounds.

"Fishing is better than ever in New York State, and Mr. Gatus' noteworthy catch is a great example of the world-class angling opportunities our state has to offer," Commissioner Seggos said. "Whether it's bass, trout, or lesser-known species like longnose gar, New York has something for everyone when it comes to fishing."

Gatus was actually fishing for channel catfish in Lake Champlain's South Bay in Whitehall when he bested the state record.

Evolutionarily speaking, longnose gar are considered living dinosaurs. Their long, needle-like snout is filled with rows of teeth, making them unmistakable from any other fish species. Longnose gar are commonly found in shallow weedy areas and are often found swimming near the water's surface. In New York, longnose gar are found primarily in the St. Lawrence River, Niagara River, Lake Champlain, eastern Lake Ontario, and the larger tributaries to these waters.

Gatus submitted details of his winning catch to DEC's Angler Achievement Awards Program, which tracks state record fish. Through this program, anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and a distinctive lapel pin commemorating the achievement. Three categories make up the program: Catch & Release, Annual Award, and State Record.

Photos of the record fish can be found on the New York State Freshwater Fishing Records page of DEC's website.

Gatus' gar joins William Wightman's 4 lb., 1 oz. black crappie caught from Lake Flavia, Cattaraugus County, on May 6 and Brian Hartman's 18 lb., 2 oz. walleye caught from the St. Lawrence River on May 5 as new state records set this year.

For more information about the Angler Achievement Awards Program, including a downloadable application form, go to DEC's website. Program details and an official entry form can also be found in DEC's current Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide (PDF, 8 MB).

For additional information on the Angler Achievement Awards Program, call (518) 402-8891 or email