Two commercial fishermen fishing for carp last month in the Yakima River delta near Bateman Island reported catching what appear to be two alligator gars.
Alligator gars are native to the Mississippi River basin from southwestern Ohio and southern Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, and to the Gulf Coastal Plain from Florida to Mexico. They can reach nearly 10 feet in length.
The fishermen sent a video of the fish to Paul Hoffarth, a biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, who determined the fish appeared to be alligator gar. The fish were about two to three feet long.
After taking the video, the fishermen put the gars back into the Yakima River since they were only licensed to catch carp. Their fishing permit has since been amended to allow them to remove gars from the river.
Hoffarth guesses that someone bought the fish for their personal aquarium, then tossed them into the river once they got too big. He said aquarium fish normally don’t survive in Washington rivers.
WDFW is working to monitor fish populations in the Tri-Cities area to ensure this non-native fish is not creating a problem for local ecosystems.