Catch & Release: Tri-State man baits 283-pound fish

The man caught the alligator gar in Texas.
Art Weston, of Union, Kentucky, was in Lufkin, Texas, when he caught this massive alligator gar.
Art Weston, of Union, Kentucky, was in Lufkin, Texas, when he caught this massive alligator gar.(Art Weston)
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 8:44 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2023 at 8:55 PM EDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (WXIX) - A Northern Kentucky man with a passion for fishing may have broken an international record while on a fishing trip in Texas over the weekend.

Art Weston, of Union, Kentucky, has been fishing ever since he was a young boy growing up in Illinois with his father and brothers. Over the past few years, the local man has been exploring several waterways with a guide service run by Capt. Kirk Kirkland, traveling around targeting International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records.

“Fishing is my main hobby, where I have targeted river fishing here in the states and in South America. I have been fishing in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, and Uruguay,” wrote Weston. “I have over 50 current (and pending) IGFA fishing world records.”

The fisherman says he recently broke a 70-year-old IGFA all-tackle world record while on an eight-day fishing excursion on Sam Rayburn Lake in Lufkin, Texas, on Saturday.

While on Capt. Kirkland’s boat, known as the Garship Enterprise, Weston says he reeled in a 283-pound Alligator Gar that was four feet around and 8′4″ in length.

“I caught this all-tackle record on a six-pound test line, which means it will break at 6 pounds of force, so when considering I caught a 283-pound fish on a six-pound test, that makes it even more special,” said Weston.

According to IGFA’s website, the current all-tackle world record for that type of fish is 279 pounds and was set by Bill Valverde on Dec. 2, 1951, in Rio Grande, Texas.

“The reason it was possible is Alligator Gar will surface numerous times during a fight to get gulps of air or to jump, and if you have a great guide like Capt. Kirk, he can get a rope on it and land it at the side of the boat, which is legal for an IGFA record,” he explained. “He keeps the boat right over the fish the whole time we are fighting it, as to be ready to land it when it surfaces.”

It took Capt. Kirkland and Weston over two hours and 45 minutes to land the creature.

“I was only targeting a 130-pound fish on a 6-pound test - what was needed to get the 6-pound record - but the 283-pound took the bait,” he explained.

After the pair took the measurements of the fish - weight, length, and girth - they released it back in the water “to live a long life.” This is something they do with all of their catch.

“What I enjoy about fishing and especially record hunting, is all the strategy and knowledge you have to gain and how well you plan for each trip where I apply learning from prior trips to keep me advancing in the sport,” said Weston.

He even makes his own fishing equipment, like lures and rods, with other manufacturers to help bait the species he is searching for.

Saturday will be the end of Weston’s expedition on the Texas lake.

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