It’s not like there’s a new sheriff in town; it’s more like a deputized P.R. agent. We’re talking about the movement to reintroduce alligator gar into areas of the species’ historic range where habitat lost to man’s engineering brought about localized extinction several decades ago.
Some 50 years ago, these prehistoric giants roamed throughout the Mississippi River Valley from the Gulf Coast to Iowa to Illinois. Today, a lot of these waters are infested with invasive Asian carp and hopes are high that reestablishing alligator gar populations will mow down the intruders.
That’s an interesting premise — one with immediate and long-term considerations. For insight relevant to bass tournament anglers, we sought the input of B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.
Having spent 32 years in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, he knows well the destructive potential of Asian carp. Both silver and bighead varieties reproduce at alarming volume, aggressively compete for food with native forage species and disrupt sport fish spawning habitat.
“In my home state, we’re scared to death that the carp will reach Lake Texoma (via the Red River), which has a world-class striped bass fishery,” Gilliland said.
Wreaking havoc on bass populations wherever they’ve appeared, Asian carp have been on a northward march toward the Great Lakes with little more than electric barriers between them and some of the nation’s premier smallmouth fisheries.