Indiana added its first record for shortnose gar.
Teen's catch opens state record category
Lindsey Fleshood has liked fishing for as long as she can remember, especially when she gets to go with her father, Mike.
"We're really close," the 13-year-old Wabash girl said. "Fishing, that's something we get to do together."
She doesn't recall exactly when their fishing expeditions began.
"I had to be very, very little when it first started," she said. "Ever since I was old enough to go fishing, it's been a hobby of mine."
As a result of her hobby, Lindsey has become a regular contributor to the DNR Fish of the Year awards program. She got started in 2007 with a gar, followed with a grass carp in 2008, and then turned in the biggest common carp, goldeye and gar in 2009.
"I usually don't try to send them in, but every once in awhile when I think something is good enough, I will," she said. "It's not exactly a goal."
She took the fish-catching recognition a step further this summer after catching a shortnose gar July 17 on the Wabash River. Noticing that the DNR didn't have a state record listing for shortnose gar, she submitted the 24 ¼-inch, 1.58-pound fish on a state record fish entry form.
"We have three types of gar in Indiana - longnose, shortnose and spotted," said Bill James, chief fisheries biologist for the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. "We've always just kept gar in a single category for state record recognition."
Lindsey Fleshood's catch prompted James to separate the listings and create a new category.
"I was really excited," Lindsey said. "I thought it was cool."
The shortnose gar is the smallest member of the gar family, but Lindsey's catch was even small by shortnose gar standards.
The world record for shortnose gar according to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is 6 pounds, 6 ounces and was caught in 2001 by Kay Lyn Butterfield on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.
Ken Schultz's Fishing Encyclopedia describes shortnose gar as "the most tolerant of all gar" because it is "capable of withstanding murky and brackish water with the help of its specialized air bladder. The bladder allows the gar to gulp in supplementary air and release gases."
It has a long, cylindrical body with diamond-shaped scales and no spots on its head like the spotted gar. It does have spots on its fins, and it has a single row of teeth in the upper jaw (longnose gar have two rows).
Lindsey Fleshood said she knew right away that she'd caught a gar but didn't know it was a shortnose until reeling it in. Despite the fact it launched a new state record category, she still doesn't rank it as her most memorable catch.
"That was probably when I caught a 24-inch catfish, a channel cat," she said. "That always will be a memory to me. It's just a day that's kind of stuck in my mind as one of my greater fishing achievements."
(NOTE: For more information on the DNR State Record Fish and Fish of the Year programs, go to www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3577.htm)