Ode to an alligator gar

I read Todd Nafe’s Oct. 1 “Outdoors” column and noted with regret the story of the near-200 pound, bow-hunter-killed alligator gar. I admire people who catch and release these giant fish to breed, reproduce and be caught again and again. Catch-and-release gives many fishermen the bragging rights for one wonderful fish and all of the great experiences that go with each catch. An arrow eliminates that possibility on the spot. And that great fish and its genetics are lost forever.

These remarkable gar slowly reproduce; conditions are not always right and, in some instances, years pass before good gar breeding conditions come around, so losing large individuals like this can affect the future of the species.

Many fishermen of today prize them as wonderful examples of an ancient species, one that lived with the dinosaurs and has successfully survived millions of years to swim the rivers of Texas today. Alligator gar live in fishable numbers in only a few states now, killed out of large portions of their former range by overfishing and public misunderstanding and poor information.

One of the most common misstatements, often heard but not based in fact, is that gar will kill out all of the game fish. This is not true. If gar were capable of that, they would have killed all of those “game” fish long before man came on the scene because they have been swimming the rivers long before humans first walked the earth.

In truth, alligator gar are the ultimate freshwater game fish. Few reach the size these large gar attain and no others in the South and Southwest. The only way to ensure the alligator gar’s great success of longevity, popularity and success is through catch-and-release fishing and not killing them off.

Killing alligator gar robs future generations of the joy and delight of seeing these massive fish roll on the surface of the Brazos or catching and releasing them ourselves.

Fish for alligator gar, catch them and release them to live and reproduce another day so others can enjoy them tomorrow and for years into the future. I want my and your children and grandchildren, along with coming generations, to be able to enjoy this great fish species should they desire.

Harold Ray Emerson, D.V.M, Waco

Shame on athletes

Standing when the national anthem is played with your hand over your heart or with a salute is a longstanding symbol of your love for this nation and a respect for all those who have sacrificed their lives to preserve the freedoms we have. This is still the greatest nation on earth, but that greatness appears to be diminishing.

Professional athletes used to be role models. They are now nothing more than overpaid prima donnas who try to force their political beliefs on fans. Their actions are un-Aamerican and a disgrace to our nation.

Mylie Hudson, Robinson