Isaac Avery and Stormie Avery pose with a new Brazos River record alligator gar caught via bowfishing earlier this month.

Courtesy of Travis Davis

There might not be any records set on the football fields this year in Waco or College Station, but somewhere along the Brazos River between Bear Country and Aggieland, a recently-set fishing record has people both amazed and shuddering.

A few weeks back, Isaac Avery, his wife Stormie Avery, and friend Hunter Graham, of Longview, were on a bowfishing trip on the Brazos in search of a record-setting fish, and at the end of the day, when the tape and scales told the tale, they accomplished that goal.

“We were shooting some carp and small gar,” Avery said, “and at one point, Hunter told me the area we were in looked promising for a big fish. Hunter shot at a dink gar, and before he could get his arrow loaded back, I saw the big one.”

Avery tried to call out his buddy’s name, but all that came out was a stutter, but his friend saw the fish and said to shoot. After sinking the arrow into the monster-sized alligator gar, Avery was able to fight the fish back to the surface, and Stormie and Hunter were able to get some back-ups into it.

The fight lasted roughly 7 minutes, and after they got it aboard, they figured they had done something legendary. They packed up and headed to Waco’s Brazos Feed & Supply to get it weighed and measured, and a few minutes later, I got a text from Brazos Feed owner Gary Payne saying he had just weighed a record-setting fish.

The monster-sized gar, which set a water body record for the Brazos River, measured 7 feet, 4 ¾ inches in length and weighed 197 pounds, and had the kind of toothy grin that a swimmer’s nightmares are made of. However, these fish are not aggressive toward humans, and shouldn’t be thought of as a threat.

The fish had been tagged by Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists as part of a study of these magnificent fish to monitor their movements, growth rates, and other data.

Avery says the key to taking a trophy fish is spending as much time on the water as possible. “We look for deep holes in the rivers and lakes where the fish stage up,” he said. “We spend hour on the water during days when the level is rising, and patience pays off. When you pull up to an area, sit there a while to let fish calm down and roll up to the surface.”

He designs his own bows, which can be found at

Fish training?

If you’re in the market for a species of fish that will give you an upper body workout and please the palate, Lake Whitney striper guide Clay Yadon is the personal trainer you’re looking for.

“Fishing has been an absolute slaughterfest,” he said. “We’re catching them on topwaters, live bait, slabs, and pretty much anything else we’re throwing out there.”

Shad and sunfish are producing limits around submerged structures like road beds, channel edges, and humps in 25-35 feet of water, and Yadon says the hardest part of his job has been keeping baits in the water. “I’m putting them down as fast as I can, and they’re getting hit instantly,” he said.

He expects the fishing to continue improving as the water temperature cools off, and says he’s got some open dates in the book this month, so if you want to stretch your string, it’s a good time to go.


The Bell County Friends of the NRA is holding its annual fundraising dinner and auction Oct. 24 at Tenroc Ranch in Salado from 6-10 p.m.

Door prizes, games, raffles, and a live auction will top off the dinner. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Proceeds benefit youth programs, competitive shooting, firearms education, and more. Call 254-760-2784 or 254-718-4542 for more information.

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