Rare All-Black Fish Caught in East Tennessee by a Visiting Angler


(WJHL) — An angler visiting East Tennessee from Louisiana caught a once-in-a-lifetime fish while on the French Broad River.

According to a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency station (TWRA), Greg Ursin Jr. was fishing the river with a captain from the Smoky Mountain Fishing Co. when he snagged a guy. This particular guy stood out, considering he was all black.

Photo: Greg Ursin Jr.

A photo of the fish was sent to TWRA fisheries biologist John Hammonds, who identified it as a melanistic longnose gar.

Essentially, the gar is the opposite of an albino. While TWRA reports that pigmentation mutations can occur in most species of fish, this all-black deformity is particularly rare.

Ursin told News Channel 11 that he initially had no intention of casting the guy after spotting him and couldn’t tell he was black at first. After his guide told him to go ahead and try, Ursin said the fish was ready in moments.

Ursin said he had never seen a black guy before, nor his guide. After taking a picture, Ursin released the fish back into the river.

Photo courtesy of Greg Ursin

The deformation is not believed to be harmful to fish, but TWRA states that it can make fish stand out and potentially become prey.

The TWRA Angler’s Guide to Tennessee describes the longnose gar as a predatory fish that generally prefers warmer waters and preys on other fish such as pumpkinseed, shad, minnow, catfish, and carp. They can be found throughout the state except for the highest elevations in eastern Tennessee. While the average gar is about 20 inches long, it can reach 36 inches, and the state record weighed 38 pounds and three ounces.


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