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The Scoop

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9-year-old sets spotted gar record with Steuben catch

Statement issued Monday by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Nine-year-old Noah Smith represents at least the fourth generation in a long line of fishermen and the first among them to catch a gar.

But he earned more than just family bragging rights when he landed the 3.17-pound, 29 3/16-inch spotted gar June 30 from Crooked Lake in Steuben County. He earned a spot in the state record books.

“It feels awesome,” said Smith, who is from Delaware, Ohio.

Smith’s catch was not particularly large for its species. Spotted gar can grow up to 6 pounds. But his entry came at an opportune time. The Indiana Record Fish Program just recently began recognizing the different species within the gar family. In the past, the program grouped shortnose gar, spotted gar, and the much larger longnose gar into the same category.

Smith’s entry was the first submission for a spotted gar. On Aug. 17, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources sent Smith a letter certifying his record fish. How long the record will stand is unclear, but the family plans to enjoy it while it lasts.

“Nobody in our family has ever caught a gar, period,” Noah’s father, Ryan Smith, said. “To catch that one and catch a state record is pretty cool.”

Smith baited his hook with a minnow and tied his fishing rod to a dock, letting it stay there overnight. When he woke up the next morning, he reeled in the fish.

He plans on mounting the fish on the wall in his bedroom.

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